On a somber Sunday, the baseball world bid farewell to the legendary Roger Craig, a man of many accomplishments. At the age of 93, Craig, who had the distinction of winning the last game in the history of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the first game in the Mets’ history, passed away. Following an illustrious managerial career spanning eight seasons, Craig departed from the Giants, leaving a void that will be difficult to fill. In the wake of this profound loss, Larry Baer, the esteemed president and CEO of the Giants, expressed heartfelt sentiments, acknowledging, “We have lost an iconic member of our Giants family.” Baer further emphasized the profound impact Craig had on the organization, as he was revered by players, coaches, front office staff, and fans alike. It is undeniable that Craig’s unwavering optimism and sagacity contributed significantly to some of the most memorable seasons in the Giants’ history.
From 1955 to 1966, Craig played in the majors. He went 74–98 with a 3.83 ERA throughout this time. Roger had 186 starts and 368 appearances with the Dodgers, Mets, Cardinals, Reds, and Phillies. He played with the Dodgers for seven seasons, starting in Brooklyn. Craig won three World Series, including with the 1955 Dodgers.
Hailing from the state of North Carolina, Roger Craig embarked on a new chapter of his baseball career when he was drafted by the Mets in 1961. As a member of the franchise’s inaugural team, Craig became an integral part of a historic season marked by adversity. It was during this tumultuous time that the Mets faced the daunting challenge of enduring a record-breaking 120 losses in a single season. Amidst these trials, Craig himself experienced personal setbacks, with 24 defeats weighing heavily on his shoulders. Ultimately, he concluded his two seasons in Flushing with a modest 15-46 record and a respectable 4.14 earned run average.
After retiring, Craig became a prominent split-finger fastball teacher. In 1980, he advised future Hall of Fame pitcher Jack Morris. Before becoming the Padres’ first pitching coach in 1968, Craig was a Dodgers scout and minor league manager. He succeeded Alvin Dark as manager in 1978. Unfortunately, Craig’s two seasons with the Padres ended with a 152-177 record.
In 1985, Craig became Giants manager. This opportunity began an eight-season managing tenure in the fascinating Bay Area. In 1989, Craig led the Giants to the World Series, when a magnitude 6.9 earthquake ruined Game 3. The Oakland A’s swept San Francisco in four games when the series resumed. Craig left after three seasons.
Roger Craig’s influence on baseball went beyond the field. He was an influential player, teacher, and mentor. The sport will always remember his perseverance and passion. RIP, Roger Craig.