Everett Lamar Bridges
Born: August 7, 1927 (Refugio, Texas)
Died: January 27, 2015 (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho)
The baseball sage Rocky Bridges once said, “I know what the word media means. It’s plural for mediocre.”
Another time, he rejected a waiter’s suggestion of escargot at a fancy restaurant with the quip, “I prefer fast food.”
Bridges, a keystone infielder, spent 11 seasons in the major leagues on seven different teams, including the Cincinnati Reds, an assignment he feared because, as for Cincinnati, “I can’t spell it.” In truth, Bridges was a word master and a wizard at crosswords.
He spent 42 years in professional baseball. Three of those seasons were spent in Canada, two as a player for the Montreal Royals and one as a manager of the Vancouver Canadians.
Born in Texas but raised in Long Beach, Calif., Bridges was a 5-foot-8, 170-pound infielder in his third season of pro ball when he joined the Royals. Just 21, he succeeded the great Jackie Robinson at second base at Delorimier Stadium in Montreal’s east end. He hit .276 in 1949 and .280 in 1950, showing enough skill to be called up to the parent Brooklyn Dodgers the following season.
He bounced around the majors with the Reds, Washington Senators, Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians, and St. Louis Cardinals before closing out his big-league playing career in 1961 with the expansion Los Angeles Angels. His career average was .247.
Bridges managed in the minors for 21 seasons, mostly in the Pacific Coast League. He managed the Canadians, a Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, in 1987, guiding the club to a 72-72 season.
The manager enjoyed his chewing tobacco. As a young player and an old manager, he had the look of a classic ball player. The sports writer Harry Cheadle once wrote that Bridges “had a head like a concrete block, a gap between his front teeth, and a face that looked like it had been hit a few times after the mouth had downed a few too many drinks.”