Rocky Bridges, a journeyman infielder whose 11-year major league career was bookended by seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers and the expansion Los Angeles Angels, has died in Idaho. He was 87.
Bridges, who went on to be a minor league manager and major league coach, died Tuesday of natural causes in Coeur d’Alene, his family said.
During his baseball career, Bridges was better known for his wit and wordplay than his performance on the diamond. He played for seven teams from 1951 through 1961; the longest stretch was four seasons in Cincinnati. “It took me that long to learn how to spell it,” he liked to tell reporters.
A shortstop, second baseman and third baseman, Bridges had a .247 career batting average and never hit more than five home runs or stole more than six bases in a season while playing for the Dodgers, Reds, Washington Senators, Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Cardinals and Angels. He made the All-Star team in 1958 as the Senators’ sole representative.
“I never got in the game, but I sat on the bench with Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Yogi Berra,” Bridges told The Times in 1985. “I gave ‘em instruction in how to sit.”
In 2011 Bridges reminisced about his life in an interview with The Times. “I had fun playing baseball,” he told columnist Jerry Crowe. “Many of the players now, I’m not sure they have fun playing the game.”
After retiring from the Angels, he stayed on as a coach and then became a minor league manager in the Angels, San Diego, San Francisco and Pittsburgh farm systems, ultimately winning more than 1,300 games.
“I managed, I scouted, I coached, I did everything,” Bridges said in 2011. “I was like a house without toilets. I was uncanny.”
He was born Everett Lamar Bridges on Aug. 7, 1927, in Refugio, Texas, and grew up in Long Beach. After graduating from Long Beach Poly High School, he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
Bridges moved his family to Idaho in 1970. His wife, Mary, died in 2008. According to the Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman-Review, he is survived by his daughter, Melinda Galbraith of Coeur d’Alene; sons Lance of Post Falls, Idaho, Cory of Coeur d’Alene and John of Idaho Falls, Idaho; and grandchildren.