Al Campanis

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Alexander Sebastian Campanis (November 2, 1916 - June 21, 1998) was an Greek-American executive in Major League Baseball. He had a brief Major League career as a second baseman, playing in seven games for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1943, but is most famous for his position as general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1968 to 1987, which he was fired from as a result of a high-profile incident in which he made racially insensitive remarks during a live interview on April 15, 1987.


Campanis' infamous remarks took place on the late-night ABC News program Nightline, on an episode coinciding with the 40th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's Major League Baseball debut (April 15, 1947). Campanis, who had played alongside Robinson and was known for being close to him, was being interviewed about the subject, and Nightline anchorman Ted Koppel had just asked him why, at the time, there had been few black managers and no black general managers in Major League Baseball. Campanis' reply was that blacks "may not have some of the necessities to be, let's say, a field manager, or, perhaps, a general manager" for these positions; elsewhere in the interview, he said that blacks are often poor swimmers "because they don't have the buoyancy." He was fired two days later.

In an interview the next year, Campanis attempted to clarify that he was referring to the lack of African-Americans with experience in these areas, rather than their innate abilities; he also said that he was "wiped out" when the interview took place, and therefore not entirely himself. Many other figures in baseball, such as fellow Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda and former Dodgers player Don Newcombe, have also spoken in Campanis' defense.


  • In one of Campanis' first trades as general manager, Campanis traded his own son, Jim Campanis, a former Dodgers player, to the Royals for two minor leaguers. [2]
  • In the book Baseball's Golden Greeks by Diamantis Zervos, Campanis' son, Jim, relates one of the big moments in his life which he called "a Greek moment in Cincinnati in 1967" when Jim was batting against the Reds, Alex Grammas was coaching third base, Chris Pelekoudas was umpiring behind the plate and the Reds' pitcher was the great Milt Pappas.[3]

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