Daryl Spencer managed Coors of Kansas which called El Dorado home from 1976-1978. Spencer actually started as a player/manager for the team in 1974 when they were based in Wichita. The 1974 team placed 3rd in both the Kansas State Tournament and the NBC World Series with Daryl batting .338 with 4 home runs and 23 RBI’s at the age of 46.
In 1976, the team moved to El Dorado and, while continuing to play in the Wichita Victory League, also joined the newly formed Jayhawk League along with Liberal, Hutchinson, Cowley County, Hays, Dodge City and Topeka. That season was not too successful with a final record of 42-25, but was memorable for the great fan support and the fact that the players really liked McDonald Stadium.
In 1977, the team won both the Victory League (19-1) and Jayhawk League (21-3). The team went on to capture the Kansas State Tournament, beating Hutchinson 8-6 but were upset in the early rounds of the World Series.
1978 was Coors last year of sponsoring a team and Daryl’s last year in baseball. The team again claimed the Victory League title with a 12-2 record but finished second in the Jayhawk League behind Liberal. Coors placed third in the Kansas State Tournament and 5th in the NBC World Series. The highlight of the season was a 15 game tour of Alaska and California. They played 4 game series against the three Alaska powerhouse teams, Anchorage, Kenai and Fairbanks. On the way back, they played a 3 game series against Eureka, California.
A couple of notable players on the El Dorado Coors teams were infielder, Ron Gardenhire, now manager of the Minnesota Twins and pitcher Eric Show who holds the San Diego Padres record for career wins. Coors overall record for their 3 seasons in El Dorado was 129-61, a .679 winning percentage. Spencer had this to say about his time managing in El Dorado, “I really enjoyed the three years and didn’t mind at all the inconvenience of driving there for our games. I’d like to give my thanks to Nick Badwey for supporting our program so well.”
El Dorado was just the last stop in a long and successful baseball career for the Wichita native. He played parts of 10 seasons in the Major Leagues for the New York and San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds. After a late season call-up to the New York Giants in 1952, he was in the starting lineup for 9 straight seasons. However, those 9 seasons were interrupted by two years in the army in 1954 and 1955 at Ft. Sill. Following his Major League career, Spencer played in Japan from 1964-1968 and again in 1971 and 1972 and was twice an All-Star.
His Major League career was filled with highlights. In 1958, the Giants and Dodgers moved to California. The Giants opened the season hosting the Dodgers and Daryl hit the first home run ever hit on the West Coast against Hall of Famer, Don Drysdale. That same season, he and Willie Mays each hit two home runs in consecutive games.
Spencer had 12 game winning hits in 3 straight seasons including 1960 in St. Louis. He started off 1961 the same way, hitting a game winning home run in the 10th inning off of Hall of Famer, Warren Spahn on opening day in Milwaukee to beat the Braves.
Later in the 1961 season, the Cardinals were playing a weekend series in Los Angeles. On Friday night, the Cardinals lost and Daryl went 0-4 against Drysdale. The next morning, Spencer got a call from General Manager Bing Devine telling him he had been traded to the Dodgers. That night, he started at 3rd base against his former team and went 0-4 against Hall of Famer, Bob Gibson.
That was not the way he wanted to start off for his new team. In fact, he was 0-11 before he hit a walk-off home run to beat the Giants 4-3. A week later, he hit another walk-off homer, a 2 run shot to beat the Phillies 5-4. The following Saturday, he hit a 2 run home run to beat Milwaukee, three straight Saturday night game winning home runs.
In May of 1963, Spencer went to the Reds. There, he got off to a great start. Spencer had 4 hits in his first game and drove in the winning run in the 10th inning. Once again, Saturday was his day with 4 game winning hits on Saturday.
One game that really stands out to Daryl was against the Dodgers in Cincinnati. Hall of Famer, Sandy Koufax (Daryl’s roommate with the Dodgers) was on the mound facing the Reds, John Jay. The game was scoreless in the bottom of the 4th when Vada Pinson doubled. Cleanup hitter and Hall of Famer, Frank Robinson was up next so Manager Walter Alston understandably chose to intentionally walk Robinson to face the next batter, Spencer. Daryl expected that but the way Alston walked to the mound and the snicker he made looking at Spencer in the on-deck circle drew his ire. Spencer said “He looked at me again leaving the mound after informing Koufax to walk Robinson. My adrenaline was boiling. I wasn’t facing Sandy, I was going against Walt” (his former manager).
Spencer said of Koufax, “You can’t hit his curveball and his fastball was no. 1, especially up high. I was looking for a low fastball and I got one on the third pitch and drilled a single to left and we won 1-0.” That year, Koufax was 25-5 with a 1.88 ERA.
That is quite a career for a boy who failed to make the high school baseball team his sophomore year at Wichita East. His junior year, he couldn’t play because of a broken arm. But, his senior year at East, he led the team with a .427 average and led in RBI’s with 27 and drove in the winning run in the Kansas State High School Tournament Championship Game to beat Topeka 2-1.
Another career highlight came while he was in the army. He coached his group’s team to the championship of the 4th Army Tournament and also traveled back and forth from Lawton to Wichita to play in the semi-pro tournaments for the Boeing Bombers. Boeing would send a plane for him to fly to Wichita, he would play in the game, take a 1:30 AM train back to Duncan, OK and then hitch-hike to Lawton in time for reveille. The 1955 Bombers won the Kansas State Tournament, the NBC World Series and the first ever Global World Series in Milwaukee and Daryl was named the MVP of all three tournaments.