William Lester DeMars (born August 26, 1925, at Brooklyn, New York) is a retired American shortstop and coach in Major League Baseball. He threw and batted right-handed, stood 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) tall and weighed 160 pounds (73 kg) during his playing career.
Originally signed by his hometown Brooklyn Dodgers during the Second World War, DeMars was selected by the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1947 rule 5 draft after batting .328 with 88 runs batted in for the Class B Asheville Tourists of the Tri-State League – DeMars' best overall season in professional baseball. He played 80 major league games over three seasons (1948; 1950–1951) for the A's and the St. Louis Browns, batting .237 with no home runs and 14 RBI in 211 at bats. He spent the prime of his career with the AAA Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League from 1952–1955.
On May 25, 1958, DeMars began an 11-year minor league managerial career in the Baltimore Orioles' farm system with the Class C Aberdeen Pheasants of the Northern League, who had lost 23 of their first 25 games. While the Pheasants continued to flounder under DeMars, winning only 37 of 100 games, the improved performance earned DeMars an invitation to return to the Orioles' system with the Class C Stockton Ports of the California League in 1959, where he posted a winning record. He managed in the Baltimore organization through 1968 — working alongside future Major League managers such as Earl Weaver, Joe Altobelli, Darrell Johnson, Jim Frey, Clyde King, Cal Ripken, Sr., and Billy Hunter. He succeeded Weaver as pilot of the AAA Rochester Red Wings in 1968, and led the Red Wings into the playoffs. Overall, his managing record was 711 wins, 729 losses (.493) with one championship, won with the Class A Fox Cities Foxes of the Midwest League in 1964.
DeMars began a 19-year Major League coaching career with the 1969 Philadelphia Phillies, eventually becoming one of the most respected batting coaches in the game. He was a member of the Phillies' staff for 13 seasons, including the 1980 world championship club – first in Phillies' history — and National League East Division champion teams in 1976–1977–1978. DeMars left the Phils after the 1981 season and coached six more seasons with the Montreal Expos (1982–1984) and Cincinnati Reds (1985–1987), where he was a key advisor to playing manager Pete Rose; Rose called DeMars the best hitting coach with whom he had ever worked. Although his 1987 resignation from the Cincinnati coaching staff ended his MLB career, DeMars would remain in baseball, and return to the Phillies, as a roving minor league batting instructor during the 1990s.
- ^ Bill Conlin (2010-11-05). "Considering gray area in Phillies' search for Lopes replacement". Philadelphia Daily News.
By Dean Hanley
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