Al Campanis

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Alexander Sebastian Campanis
born Alessandro Campani

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Biographical Information[edit]

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Al Campanis played briefly in the majors and was a longtime general manager. He is best remembered for a series of insensitive racial comments made during a television interview.

An infielder, Campanis was born in Greece, attended NYU, and began his playing career in the Brooklyn Dodgers organization in 1940. He had a cup of coffee in the majors with the Dodgers in 1943, going 2-for-20 in 7 games, and thus became the only Greek-born major leaguer (through 2021). After a stint in the military during World War II, he was a teammate of Jackie Robinson with the Montreal Royals in 1946. He continued playing in the minors through 1948.

Campanis was Scouting Director of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1960 to 1968 and the team's general manager from 1969 until 1987. He lost his job after a series of ridiculous comments on the ABC news magazine show Nightline, in an episode dedicated to the 40th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's breaking the color line. When asked by host Ted Koppel and fellow guest Roger Kahn why there were so few African-American executives in the major leagues, four decades after Robinson's debut, he replied that "I truly believe that they may not have some of the necessities to be, let's say, a field manager, or perhaps a general manager." His response was seen as a perfect encapsulation of the barriers qualified African-Americans faced from the baseball establishment; his firing did have some positive effect, as it led Commissioner Peter Ueberroth to set up a program to promote more managers and other executives from minority backgrounds.

Campanis was the father of big leaguer Jim Campanis, His grandson, Jim Jr., was on the 1988 U.S. Olympic Team but never reached the bigs. Al died of coronary artery disease at 81.

Preceded by
Fresco Thompson
Los Angeles Dodgers General Manager
Succeeded by
Fred Claire

Year-by-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Playoffs Notes
1948 Nashua Dodgers New England League 84-41 2nd League Champs
1949 Lancaster (PA) Red Roses Interstate League 71-68 5th
1950 Newport News Dodgers Piedmont League 28-55 -- -- replaced by Bud Metheny (27-30) on July 21
1957 Montreal Royals International League 6-5 -- -- replaced Greg Mulleavy (19-35) on June 14
replaced by Al Ronning (2-2) on June 24

Further Reading[edit]

  • Richard L. Harris: "For Campanis, a night that lived in infamy", The Los Angeles Times, August 5, 2008. [1]

Related Sites[edit]