Roger Craig, the renowned pitcher for both the Brooklyn Dodgers and the original New York Mets, passed away at the age of 93, leaving behind a legacy that spans across baseball history. Having achieved the remarkable feat of winning the final game for the Dodgers in Brooklyn and the inaugural game for the Mets, Craig solidified his place in the annals of the sport. Throughout his illustrious career, he not only excelled as a player but also transitioned into a highly respected major league manager.
On Sunday, the Giants, a team Craig managed for eight seasons, solemnly announced his passing, marking a significant loss for their organization. Larry Baer, the Giants’ president and chief executive officer, expressed heartfelt sentiments, describing Craig as a beloved figure among players, coaches, staff, and fans alike. Renowned for his optimistic spirit and invaluable wisdom, Craig’s contributions resulted in some of the most unforgettable seasons in the Giants’ history. His impact extended far beyond the diamond, as he served as a father figure to many within the baseball community.
During his impressive twelve-year tenure in the majors, from 1955 to 1966, Craig showcased his skills with a 74-98 record and a commendable 3.83 ERA in 186 starts and 368 appearances for various teams, including the Dodgers, Mets, Cardinals, Reds, and Phillies. Notably, he spent seven seasons donning the Dodger blue, three of which were in Brooklyn, where he made a lasting impact. Craig’s remarkable career included three World Series victories, one of which he achieved as a member of the legendary 1955 Dodgers team.
Hailing from North Carolina, Craig was chosen by the Mets in the 1961 expansion draft, becoming an integral part of the franchise’s inaugural team, which unfortunately set a record for the most losses in a season with 120. Despite the challenges, Craig’s determination shone through, although he endured 24 losses that season, ultimately posting a 15-46 record during his two-year tenure with the Mets, coupled with a respectable 4.14 ERA.
Following the conclusion of his playing days, Craig embraced his role as an advocate and teacher of the split-finger fastball, a pitch he successfully imparted to Hall of Famer Jack Morris during their time together with the Tigers in 1980. Transitioning into coaching and management, Craig held positions as a scout and minor league manager with the Dodgers before becoming the Padres’ first pitching coach in 1968. In 1978, he further ascended to the role of manager, succeeding Alvin Dark.
Although his tenure as San Diego’s manager lasted only two seasons, Craig compiled a record of 152-177. However, it was his subsequent hiring by the Giants in the latter part of the 1985 season that marked a significant turning point in his managerial career. For the next eight seasons, Craig led the Giants, culminating in a memorable journey to the World Series in 1989, notably impacted by the 6.9 earthquake that struck during Game 3. Although the series ended with a sweep by the Oakland A’s when it resumed, Craig’s leadership propelled the Giants to the pinnacle of success.
Our deepest condolences go out to Craig’s wife, Carolyn, his four children, Sherri Paschelke, Roger Craig Jr., Teresa Hanvey, and Vikki Dancan, as well as his seven grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, and his extended family and friends during this difficult time. The profound impact Craig made throughout his life and career will forever be cherished by those fortunate enough to have known him.