Roger Craig, Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher and original Met, dead at 93

Roger Craig, who had the distinction of winning the last game in Brooklyn Dodgers history and the first game in Mets history and who was also a longtime major league manager, died Sunday.

He was 93.

The Giants, whom Craig managed for eight seasons, announced his passing.

“We have lost a legendary member of our Giants family.” Larry Baer, Giants president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Roger was beloved by players, coaches, front office staff and fans. He was a father figure to many and his optimism and wisdom resulted in some of the most memorable seasons in our history.”

Craig, played 12 seasons in the majors from 1955-66, posting a 74-98 record and 3.83 ERA in 186 starts and 368 career appearances for the Dodgers, Mets, Cardinals, Reds and Phillies.

He spent seven seasons in Dodger blue, including the first three years of his career in Brooklyn.

Craig won three World Series, including as a member of the famed 1955 Dodgers.

As the New York Mets work out, left to right, Frank Thomas, Gil Hodges, Don Zimmer, and Roger Craig on April 9, 1962.
© Bettmann/CORBIS

The North Carolina native was then selected by the Mets in the 1961 expansion draft and was a member of the franchise’s original team that holds the record for most losses in a season with 120.

Craig lost 24 games that season and posted a 15-46 record overall during two seasons in Flushing with a 4.14 ERA.

When his playing days ended, he became a great advocate and teacher of the split-finger fastball — which he taught to Hall of Famer Jack Morris when he was with the Tigers in 1980.

After spending time as a scout and minor league manager with the Dodgers, he became the Padres’ first pitching coach in 1968 and eventually their manager in 1978 — replacing Alvin Dark.

Former Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitchers, from left, Roger Craig, Carl Erskin, and Don Newcomb, point to the grand stand during the cliubs’ 50th anniversary celebration on their move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 2008.

Craig managed San Diego for just two seasons, going 152-177.

He was hired as manager by the Giants very late in the 1985 season. He would manage in the Bay Area for the next eight seasons.

Craig led the Giants to the World Series in 1989, which featured a magnitude 6.9 earthquake during Game 3.

San Francisco was swept by the Oakland A’s in four games when the series resumed and Craig was out three seasons later.

Brooklyn Dodgers pitchers Roger Craig and Don Bessent demonstrate a pitcher’s grip on a baseball.
Bettmann Archive

“Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife, Carolyn, his four children, Sherri Paschelke, Roger Craig Jr, Teresa Hanvey and Vikki Dancan, his seven grandchildren, his 14 great grandchildren as well as his extended family and friends,” Baer said.