Born in West Springfield, Massachusetts, Durocher joined the New York Yankees briefly in 1925 before rejoining the club in 1928 as a regular player. After helping the team win its second consecutive World Series title in 1928, he was waived by the Yankees before the 1930 season, and spent the remainder of his professional career in the National League. After three years with the Cincinnati Reds, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in mid-1933, joining the team then known as the "Gashouse Gang" - an appropriate match, given Durocher's already wide reputation as a particularly fiery player and vicious bench jockey. Durocher remained with the Cardinals through the 1937 season, captaining the team and winning the 1934 World Series (their third title in nine years) before being traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Primarily a shortstop, Durocher played through 1945 (excluding the 1942 and 1944 seasons), and was known as a solid fielder but a poor hitter. In 5,350 career at bats, he batted .247, hit 24 home runs and had 567 RBI. He was named to the NL's All-Star team three times - once with St. Louis, and twice with the Dodgers.
While with the Dodgers in 1939, however, Durocher assumed the position for which most would remember him, that of manager. Coming off six straight losing seasons, he made a quick turnaround; apart from the war year of 1944, he would not have a losing campaign with the team. In 1941, just his third season of managing, he led the Dodgers to the National League pennant (their first in 21 years) with a 100-54 record. Durocher managed the Dodgers continuously until 1946, but was suspended for 1947 because of his friendship with known gamblers.
Prior to being suspended, however, Durocher played a noteworthy role in erasing baseball's color line. In the spring of 1947, he let it be known that he wouldn't tolerate the dissent of those players on the team who opposed Jackie Robinson joining the club, stating:
"I don't care if the guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a fucking zebra. I'm the manager of this team and I say he plays."
He would return for the 1948 season, but his outspoken personality would again cause friction with team executive Branch Rickey, and Durocher was fired mid-season. He was immediately hired, however, by the Dodgers' cross-town rivals, the New York Giants. He enjoyed perhaps his greatest success with the Giants, and possibly a measure of sweet revenge against the Dodgers, as the Giants won the 1951 NL pennant in a playoff against Brooklyn, triumphing on Bobby Thomson's historic game-winning home run.
And with the Giants in 1954, Durocher won his only World Series championship by sweeping the heavily favored Cleveland Indians, who had posted a record of 111-43 in the regular season.
Durocher managed the Giants through 1955 before leaving the field for a decade, working as a television commentator. He returned in 1966 as the manager of the Chicago Cubs, whom he managed until 1972. He then managed the Houston Astros for the final 31 games of the 1972 season and the entire 1973 season before retiring.
Durocher finished his managerial career with a 2008-1709 record for a .540 winning percentage. He posted a winning record with each of the four teams he led, and was the first manager to win 500 games with three different clubs.
From 1947 to 1960, he was married to film actress Laraine Day.