Billy DeLury, a Dodgers fixture for 66 years, dies at 81

Billy DeLury, a Dodgers fixture for 66 years, dies at 81
Billy DeLury stands at the corner of Jackie Robinson Avenue and Sandy Koufax Lane at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., on March 27, 2007. (Jon SooHoo / Los Angeles Dodgers)

Billy DeLury, a Brooklyn native who joined the Dodgers in 1950 and never left, died Saturday, the team announced.

On the verge of his 66th season, he was 81.


DeLury, who hadn't been feeling well, checked into a hospital the day before his death, according to the Associated Press.

As the son of a vegetable truck driver, DeLury grew up in tenements before signing on with the Dodgers at Ebbets Field when he was 17.

Over the years, he worked in Dodger jobs far from the limelight and became a presence in the team's clubhouse, front office and press box. He sorted mail, washed towels, sold advertising in the team program, peddled tickets and helped choreograph spring training. As the team's traveling secretary for 20 years, he was a confidant of managers and a supportive presence for players.

"I was privileged to know Bill DeLury for more than 60 years, from the time he was an office boy in Brooklyn and rose to become a most valuable member of the organization as our traveling secretary," Dodgers sportscaster Vin Scully said in a statement.

He described DeLury as "a Dodger from head to toe."

Inside the organization, DeLury was nearly as much an institution as Scully or former manager Tommy Lasorda. He was "an inspiration in our front office as well as a daily reminder of our roots in Brooklyn," team President and Chief Executive Stan Kasten said.

DeLury spoke fondly of former owner Walter O'Malley, "who made it so you never wanted to work anywhere else."

In his thick Brooklyn accent, DeLury told of the awe that overcame him when a club official asked him a question on a winter's day in 1955.

"They said they wanted my ring size," DeLury told Times columnist Bill Plaschke in 2008. "And I said, 'Holy mackerel.'"

He kept his World Series ring in a safe deposit box.

"It's the most important thing I have," he said. "To lose it would just demolish me."

His service with the Dodgers was interrupted only by a 1957-58 stint in the military.

In the last few years, DeLury scaled back his club activities but still served as an assistant to broadcasters and to the traveling secretary.

He is survived by a daughter, the team said.