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managers

This is a list of managers that have not been profiled on this blog.  Their career records are given.

George Stallings (879-898), Don Zimmer (885-858), Chuck Dressen (1,008-973), Bill Rigney (1,239-1,321), Paul Richards (923-901), Pat Moran (748-586), Fred Hutchinson (830-827), Gene Mauch (1,902-2,037), Johnny Oates (797-746)

One of the top flychasers of his time, Virdon had a lengthy career with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The bespectacled center fielder was known for his ballhawking abilities and triples hitting.  He was a member of the famous 1960 World Champion Pirates and after his playing days he coached and later managed with the Pirates.  However, as a manager, Virdon is best associated with the Houston Astros.  He was the first skipper to lead Houston to the postseason.

Virdon was originally signed by the New York Yankees but before he was called up he was traded to the Cardinals for Hall of Fame veteran Enos Slaughter.  Bill, who grew up in southern Missouri, was affectionately referred to as “Quail,” had a terrific freshman season with the Redbirds in 1955.  He hit .281 and clubbed 17 homeruns on his way to the Rookie of the Year Award.  But St. Louis made a rash trade early in 1956 and sent their reigning ROTY champ to the Pirates for Bobby Del Greco and Dick Littlefield.  Bill only hit .211 in 24 early season games for the Cardinals but after the deal he hit .334 for the Bucs.  He led the NL in games played, finished fifth in triples and had the second best fielding percentage among center fielders.

Although Virdon hit 17 homeruns as a rookie and ten in 1956, he never again reached double-digits in long balls.  He instead became a triples hitter and posted three straight seasons of double-digit three baggers.  From 1957 to 1959, Quail finished in the Top Three among outfielders in putouts.  He helped lead the Pirates to an NL pennant in 1960 and they stunned the Yankees with an improbable World Series victory.  Bill smacked three doubles and drove in five runs for the Pirates in the World Series.  The Pirates fell back to their usual ways in 1961 and in ’62 Bill led the National League in triples and won a Gold Glove Award. 

In 1963 he posted his third consecutive season with 200 or more total bases.  After a down year in 1964 in which he hit just .247, Virdon redeemed himself by raising his batting average back up to .279 in 1965.  Although he wasn’t of the same ilk as Mantle, Mays and Snider, Quail was a solid player who possessed far superior leadership skills.  After a fairly productive ’65 season, Bill took to managing in the minors.  He was later summoned by the Pirates to serve as a coach in 1968 and the veteran even had a few pinch hit appearances that year.  However, after that season, he focused primarily on coaching.

Virdon succeeded Pirates legend Danny Murtaugh as skipper in 1972 and won the NL East flag his first year as skipper.  His Bucs went 96-59 as they were clearly the best offensive team in all of baseball.  The ’72 Pirates were the only team in the Majors to eclipse 1,400 combined base hits–they finished with 1,505 and a Majors best team batting average of .274.  However, during the off-season, tragedy struck the team as their star right fielder Roberto Clemente was killed in a plane accident.  Bill tried to rally his troops but to no avail and he was replaced by Murtaugh near the end of the 1973 season.

Not unemployed long, George Steinbrenner hired Bill as skipper for the Yankees in 1974.  He improved the Yankees from fourth place to second place but that wasn’t good enough for the cantankerous Big Stein who canned Bil in 1975 and replaced him with Billy Martin.  He didn’t have to look long for work as the Astros fired Preston Gomez in order to open up their managerial post for Quail.  He would have a long association with the Houston Astros and managed the club for the better part of a decade.  The Astros finished dead last in 1975 as Bill managed the last 34 games of the season.  They only had one way to go in ’76 and Virdon took them there, finishing third in the NL West.  The team ERA in ’75 had been 4.04 but Virdon helped trim it to 3.56 in 1976.

The Astros finished at .500 in 1977 and in 1978 they owned the National League’s top strikeout staff, thanks largely to J.R. Richard.  Big Richard served as the staff ace as Astros pitchers led the National League in combined shutouts in 1979.  Offensively, Virdon had to be more creative.  He didn’t have too much power so he employed the hit-and-run and his club responded in kind.  His 1979 Astros led the National League in combined stolen bases as Bill had four men who posted over 30 steals: Enos Cabell, Cesar Cedeno, Jose Cruz and Terry Puhl.  The Astros finally had an identity and they finished second in the NL West that year.

The Astros copped their first division title behind the leadership of Virdon in 1980.  The team scored 583 runs in their second place finish of ’79 and raised that total to 637 in 1980.  Thanks to pitchers Richard, Nolan Ryan and Joe Niekro, Houston led the NL in combined strikeouts but Richard suffered a stroke during the season and was lost for the postseason.  Had the imposing right-hander been able to take his turn in the rotation, it is likely that Houston would have beat the Phillies in the NLCS.  But the Phillies won and were the eventual World Champs.  Undeterred, Houston made the Playoffs again in 1981 with the National League’s best staff ERA.  But they couldn’t get passed the Division Series and would have to wait until 1986 for another shot at postseason play.  Virdon, however, was fired after a rough start in 1982.  His last managerial stint came with the Montreal Expos.  In 1983 he replaced Jim Fanning as Expos skipper but when he was canned in ’84, Montreal gave the job back to Fanning.

THE NUMBERS

G 1,583/R 735/H 1,596/2B 237/3B 81/HR 91/RBI 502/SB 47/BB 442/SO 647/BA .267/OBP .316/SA .379

AS MANAGER

W 995/L 921/PCT .519: Three divisional titles

Better known today as the long-time manager of the Montreal Expos, Felipe Alou was a fine hitter during the 1960s who led the National League in base hits twice.  A free-swinger at the plate, the three-time All-Star was an unusual high average hitter in an era regarded as a pitcher’s paradise.  Felipe was arguably the best of a trio of bothers, Jesus and Matty the other two, who played in the 1960s, and he is also the father of former star Moises Alou.

The Dominican born Alou joined the Giants in 1958 and showed a little promise as a 23-year-old.  After three years of sporadic play at the Major League level, Felipe broke out in the famous offensive year of 1961.  He hit .289 with 18 homeruns.  However, the next season, offensive numbers went backwards–but not Felipe’s.  He raised his batting average to .316 and upped his homerun output to 25.  The right-handed hitter came within two RBI of  notching 100 while he led the Giants to the World Series.  Felipe, whose brother Matty was a reserve on the ’62 Giants, hit .269 in a World Series loss.

In 1963, Felipe was one of just two Major League right fielders to post 30 doubles and 20 homeruns.  But the Giants coveted All-Star catcher Del Crandall and used Felipe was trade bait to acquire him from the Braves.  Alou’s first year in Milwaukee was atrocious but he got back on track in 1965 by leading National League left fielders in batting average.  When the Braves relocated to Atlanta in 1966, Felipe enjoyed his finest all-round season.  He led the National League in runs scored, base hits and total bases while making his second All-Star squad.  Used as a first baseman/corner outfielder, Felipe posted 32 doubles, 31 homeruns and a .327 batting average. 

After coming back down to earth in 1967, Felipe again tied for the National League lead in base hits, with Pete Rose, in 1968 with 210.  Alou’s 37 doubles were good for fourth in the senior circuit, but when his slugging percentage dipped mightily in 1970, the Braves traded him to Oakland for Jumbo Jim Nash.  For the rest of his career, which spanned until 1974, Felipe never again was among the league leaders.

His days after playing weren’t spent idle as Felipe became a minor league manager in the late 1970s.  Groomed by the Expos, Montreal called him to Canada in 1992.  The Expos finished dead last in their division in 1991 but when they gave Felipe the reins early in the ’92 season, the Expos caught fire and came in second place with a 70-55 record under Alou.  Montreal had plenty of athletic talent in Alou’s early years as they were a go-go styled team.  Montreal led the National League in combined stolen bases in ’93.

The Expos were on fire in 1994, running away with the National League East division, when the player’s strike put a halt on play.  At the time of the strike, Felipe had guided the Expos to a 74-40 record, but Montreal was denied a World Series run thanks to rampant greed.  The Expos faltered in 1995 before returning to second place in ’96.  At the heart of the Expos team was 1997 Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez.  But after Pedro left the club, the Expos were relegated to second division status, courtesy a failed youth movement. 

After a dismal start to the 2001 season, Alou was replaced at the helm in Montreal.  Not unemployed for long, the San Francisco Giants offered him their vacant post for the 2003 season.  Although the player’s strike denied Alou a 100-win season in 1994, he was able to get that 100-win campaign his first year with the Giants.  San Fran won the NL West in ’03 then came in second in 2004.  After two straight third place finishes in 2004 and 2005, the Giants terminated their marriage with Alou. 

THE NUMBERS

G 2,082/R 985/H 2,101/2B 359/3B 49/HR 206/RBI 852/SB 107/BB 423/SO 706/BA .286/SA .433.OBP .328

AS MANAGER

W 1,033/L 1,021/PCT .503: two first place finishes

One of the best shortstops of the 1960s, Fregosi made the All-Star team six times during the decade as a contrast to the speedy, no-power shortstops of his era.  Fans were used to guys like Aparicio and Carrasquel flashing leather up the middle but offering no power in the batter’s box.  Jim on the other hand was a fearsome hitter in a pitcher’s era who reached double-digits in homeruns six times.

Selected by the Angels in the expansion draft from the Red Sox in 1960, Jim was brought up to the Majors in the Angels first year of operation as a 19-year-old.  He had a 58 game showcase with Los Angeles in ’62 before he was given the everyday assignment at short.  In his first year as a regular Major Leaguer, Fregosi led AL shortstops in runs, hits and batting average.  An adequate defender who won one Gold Glove in his career, Jim had two seasons in which he accepted over 800 total chances. 

Named to his first All-Star team in ’64, Jim led Major League shortstops in RBI while driving 18 balls into the seats.  The AL’s top hitting shortstop in 1965, Fregosi also did the little things that help a team win, indicated by his league leading total in sacrifices.  But it was his run production at a typically defensive oriented position that set Jim apart.  He topped AL shortstops in RBI during the 1966 season when he was the only Major League shortstop to reach 30 doubles.

The pitching paradise that was the 1960s didn’t deter Jim.  In 1967 he hit a robust .290–he was the only American League shortstop to hit over .260.  The following year he led the American League in triples.  But his best year for power was right around the corner.  In 1970, Jim blasted a career high 22 homeruns and drove in 82 runs for the Angels.  When his numbers dropped off sharply in 1971 due in large part to injury, the Angels made a brilliant trade with the Mets when they sent Fregosi to New York for four players… one named Nolan Ryan. 

Jim never had success in New York as his contract was sold to the Texas Rangers halfway through the 1973 season.  In the Lone Star State, Jim saw more action at first base than any other station as he platooned at first with Mike Hargrove and Jim Spencer.  While still an active player with the Pirates in 1978, Jim announced his retirement in order to accept the Angels managerial job.  After a slow start, Jim was able to coax .500 ball out the Angels as a rookie skipper in ’78.

Fregosi showed his managerial wherewithal in 1979 when he guided the Angels to an AL West flag despite key injuries to players like Hall of Famer Rod Carew and stars Joe Rudi, Rick Miller and Frank Tanana.  When the Angels fell from first to sixth place in 1980, Fregosi was on the hot seat.  He was replaced in 1981 after a 22-25 start.  It was back to the minors for Jim where he excelled as a skipper in the bushes awaiting his next Major League trial.  That trial came in 1986 when the White Sox asked him to replace Tony LaRussa.

Jim managed the last half of the season for Chicago in 1986.  In 1987, the White Sox team batting average rose eleven points from the previous year under Jim’s tutelage.  But when the White Sox finished fifth again in 1988 they canned Jim.  His greatest success as a skipper was just around the corner when the Phillies offered him their managerial job in 1991.  The Phillies were a patchwork team of guys who looked more at home at a Sturgis bike rally than a Major League field and they showed it with a last place finish in 1992.  But Jim turned things around quickly.

The Phillies went from worst to first in 1993 as Fregosi’s charges showed the National League how an offense was supposed to function.  The Phillies led the National League in hits, runs scored, doubles and walks drawn while their pitching staff led the circuit in total strikeouts.  The Phillies captured the NL pennant and participated in a classic World Series against the Toronto Blue Jays.  Many a Phillies fan can still close his eyes and see Mitch Williams serve up the pitch that Joe Carter blasted for a series win.

The Phillies failed to repeat in the strike shortened 1994 campaign and after that, Jim never seemed to have a healthy group of guys.  In 1995, he had key players Lenny Dykstra, Darren Daulton, Andy Van Slyke and Tommy Greene miss time with injury, which kept them from catching Bobby Cox’s Braves.  When the Phillies had a 95-loss season in 1996, Fregosi was handed his walking papers.  His last managerial assignment came with the Toronto Blue Jays.  The team batting average rose a whopping 14 points under Fregosi in 1999 but after another third place finish in 2000, Toronto went another direction and replaced Jim. 

THE NUMBERS

G 1,902/R 844/H 1,726/2B 264/3B 78/HR 151/RBI 706/SB 76/BB 715/SO 1,097/BA .265/SA .398/OBP .338

AS MANAGER

W 1,028/L 1,095/PCT .484    1 pennant

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A Deadball Era star, Fielder Jones was widely regarded as a strategic genius.  He was player/manager of the “Hitless Wonders,” the White Sox team that won the World Series in 1906, utilizing sound defense and fundamentals to beat a much more impressive Cubs team in the Fall Classic.  Jones the player played the game like he managed: he excelled on the field, posted fine on-base percentages and took the extra base whenever possible.

Fielder Jones got his start with the Brooklyn Bridegrooms in 1896.  As a rookie, he paced the team with a .357 batting average and a stellar .427 on-base percentage.  The regular right fielder in 1897, Jones teamed with stars Mike Griffin and Honest John Anderson to give the Grooms an all .300 hitting pasture.  Fielder scored 134 runs in 135 games and tallied 22 outfield assists.  With a name like Fielder, and given his profession, it would seem logical that he came across the name on the diamond, but the fact of the matter is he was named after a Civil War hero family member.

Jones posted his third straight .300 hit campaign in 1898 by hitting .304 for Brooklyn that season.  He led the club in runs scored and finished second on the squad, behind Griffin, in on-base percentage.  Brooklyn shocked the National League by winning the pennant in 1899.  They finished a distant tenth in ’98 but captured the NL flag with an amazing turnaround season.  Fielder teamed with such luminaries as Wee Willie Keeler, Joe Kelley, Bad Bill Dahlen, Duke Farrell, Tom Daly and Hughie Jennings: all men with on-base percentages of .390 or higher.  Jones would remember this season when he would become manager of the White Sox.

Brooklyn repeated as NL champs in 1900 under the tutelage of Ned Hanlon.  Jones hit .310 and tied with Keeler for most runs scored on the roster.  But back-to-back titles or not, the big money offered by the upstart American League lured Fielder away and he signed with the White Sox.  In the AL’s first year fo existence, Jones finished second in the circuit in runs scored, walks and on-base percentage.  Fielder hit a nifty .311 and posted his third season of 100 or more runs scored. 

As skipper Clark Griffith’s everyday center fielder in 1902, Fielder paced junior circuit middle gardeners in hits and batting average.  He had a nifty .390 on-base percentage and came two runs shy of another 100 runs scored campaign.  The White Sox fell to seventh place in 1903 under skipper Nixey Callahan and in 1904, Jones replaced Nixey early in the season and guided the Pale Hose to a third place finish as player/manager.  The double duty took its toll on Fielder’s numbers as his batting average dipped to a new low of .243 (the worst it had been prior to that was .285).  Nevertheless, Fiedler led the league in sacrifices, leading his team by example: move runners over like I do!

Jones brought the White Sox in at second place in 1905 while he led American League center fielders in runs, triples and walks.  But Fielder wielded his magic wand in 1906 when he piloted the “Hitless Wonders” to a World Series title over town rival Cubs.  As a player, Jones finished second in the AL with 83 walks drawn.  Although Fiedler didn’t have a single man in the lineup hit above .280, his Pale Hose were adept at scratching out runs and keeping opposing runs from crossing the plate.  The White Sox played “Small-Ball” perfectly and had an exceptional pitching staff of Ed Walsh, Doc White, Nick Altrock, Frank Owen and Roy Patterson.

The White Sox fell to third in 1907 but Fielder topped American League center fielders in walks.  Fielder had his last fine year as a player in 1908 when scored 92 runs, pilfered 26 bags and posted an on-base percentage of .366.  As a manager, he was in fine shape as well.  He brought his Sox in second place in the AL, just a game and a half behind the Tigers of Detroit.

But Fielder grew disenfranchised with White Sox owner Charlie Comiskey and announced his retirement after the ’08 season.  He returned to Oregon, where he played minor league ball, and went into business there until he was called back to the show to manage the Federal League’s St. Louis Terriers.  He replaced Three-Finger Brown late in the season and piloted the last place Terriers for a little over a month.  The following year the Terriers shot up the standings to second place but then the Federal League folded.

The Terriers owner bought the American League St. Louis Browns and asked Jones to manage the Brownies.  The Browns finished above .500 in 1916 but with a roster that had the likes of crooked Joey Gedeon (later banned from baseball for throwing games) the Browns fell to seventh in 1917 and Fielder was replaced early in the 1918 season.  He never again made it back to the Major Leagues as manager.

THE NUMBERS

G 1,787/R 1,181/H 1,929/2B 200/3B 76/HR 22/RBI 633/BB 817/SB 359/BA .285/SA .348/OBP .368

AS MANAGER

W 683/L 582/PCT .540  One pennant and one World Title.

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Bob “Death to Flying Things” Ferguson had a lengthy career in baseball.  Regarded as the first switch-hitter in the Major Leagues, Ferguson was already an established baseball player when the game became a business in 1871.  With the adoption of the first legitimate Major League, the National Association, Ferguson was named player/manager for the old New York Mutuals.  On his team were fellow pre-professional legends Dickey Pearce and Joe Start.

Ferguson, who split his career between third base and second base (but was a much better third baseman) finished second on the Mutuals in RBI while leading the club to a fifth place finish.  In 1872 Ferguson shifted to the Brooklyn Atlantics as player/manager (he was a player/manager every season he played) and hit .280.  He stayed with Brooklyn for two more years before leaving the club and joining the Hartford Dark Blues in 1875.

His first year managing the Dark Blues, Ferguson guided the club to a 54-28 record thanks largely to his amazing pitching tandem of Hall of Famer Candy Cummings and Tommy Bond.  On the field, Bob finished second on the club in RBI.  His last year in Hartford, 1877, Bob finished eighth in the league in the RBI department.  His finest season came the following year when he left Hartford for the Chicago White Stockings.

Death to Flying Things paced the league in on-base percentage while hitting at a .351 clip (3rd in the league).  Rejoining Bob in Chicago was his old first baseman in New York, Joe Start, and he also had a youngster who would go on to become the first 3,000 hit man: Cap Anson.  As a skipper, Ferguson brought Chicago in at .500 ball and after the season he left to manage and play for the Troy Trojans. 

In his second year with the Trojans, Ferguson the manager shifted Ferguson the player to second base to open the door for a young slugger named Roger Connor, a future Hall of Famer.  Bob led the league in walks that season and the following year he paced the circuit in games played.  Ferguson brought his Trojans of 1881 in at fifth place as he was one of two players on the roster, Connor being the other, to hit above .280. 

As a 37-year-old player/manager in 1882, Ferguson brought the Trojans in at seventh place but had a roster of solid young talent that would star in the Major Leagues.  At first base he had a 24-year-old Roger Connor, his third baseman was a 22-year-old Buck Ewing, on the mound he had two future Hall of Famers in Tim Keefe and Mickey Welch and at shortstop he had the splendid Dandelion Pfeffer.  These youngsters learned under Death to Flying Things but became winners later on. 

In 1883 Ferguson caught on with the Philadelphia Quakers and hit .258 in his last good year as a player.  The following season he left the National League for the American Association and was part of a managerial carousel in 1884.  He ended his days as a player in 1884 but spent two more years managing the New York Metropolitans of the American Association.

THE NUMBERS

G 824/R 544/H 920/2B 102/3B 30/HR 1/RBI 357/BA .265/SA .313

AS MANAGER

W 417/L 516/PCT .447

www.19cbaseball.com

A baseball lifer, Birdie Tebbetts was a four-time All-Star catcher, a big league manager and a military recruiter during his days in the game.  A master of psychology, it was once printed that during World War II, when Birdie was serving with the Army Air Corps as a recruiter, that executives of Major League ballclubs tried to keep him out of their respective cities for fear that Tebbetts had come to get their entire rosters to enlist.  Tebbetts used his mastery of psychology to sign up boys for the war as well as lead a roster of ballplayers during a season of fun and baseball.

Birdie had the misfortune of debuting with the Detroit Tigers when they owned the contract of one Mickey Cochrane–arguably the greatest catcher of all-time.  However, when Mick was beaned in 1937, and nearly died, his career as a player was over and the door was open for a successor.  Tebbetts tried to make the most of his situation but with power hitter Rudy York in town and Hank Greenberg blocking York at first base, Detroit used the brawny York as their catcher even though his reserve, Tebbetts, was a far superior defender.

Birdie began to see more playing time in 1939 and by 1940 he paced American League catchers in doubles while hitting .296.  The Tigers needed Birdie behind the plate but also needed York’s big bat in the lineup, so skipper Del Baker moved Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg to left field, thus opening the door for regular playing time for both Tebbetts and York.  The result was an AL flag.

In 1941, Birdie hit .284 but with the loss of Greenberg to the military, the Tigers fell in the standings.  The following year, Birdie finished as Hall of Famer Bill Dickey’s runner-up in batting average among American League backstops.  After the 1942 season, Birdie entered the military and served three years at the height of his career.  No other catcher was hurt more than Tebbetts by the war.  Bill Dickey and Harry Danning were both at the end of their careers when they served and Yogi Berra had yet to make his debut.  Birdie on the other hand had just hit his prime and made the All-Star team the two years before his military induction.

Stationed at the Waco Airfield, Tebbetts stayed in shape by playing and managing a service club that boasted the likes of Sid Hudson and Bruce Campbell.  When the war was over, Birdie returned to Detroit in 1946 and struggled at the plate, despite his typically exceptional defense–he gunned down 44% of would-be basestealers.  During his career, Birdie averaged a fine 44%.

When the Red Sox needed a catcher in 1947 they made a deal for Birdie.  At the time of the trade, Tebbetts was hitting an extremely poor .094 for the Tigers but rebounded to hit .299 with Boston.  He continued his fine hitting in 1948 by leading AL catchers in batting average, hits, doubles, walks and RBI.  An All-Star in 1948, Birdie received the same honor again in 1949 when he led catchers in stolen bases.  In 1950, Birdie and Hall of Famer Yogi Berra were the only .300 hitting catchers in the American League.

The Cleveland Indians bought the aging Birdie’s contract in 1951 and he served as Jim Hegan’s backup for two years before retiring.  Although retired as a player, Tebbetts wasn’t out of the game long.  His first managerial assignment came with the Reds in 1954.  The Reds of 1953 had a poor .442 winning percentage and Birdie elevated the club to a modest .481 percentage.  He guided his Reds to another fifth place finish in ’55 as his club was the only team in the Majors with two 40 homerun hitters.  His Reds also paced the league in hits.

The Reds caught fire under Tebbetts in 1956 when he led his charges to a fine 91-63 record; two games behind the NL champs.  His Cincy club was the NL’s top slugging club in ’56 as Birdie had a powerful lineup with the likes of Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, slugging first baseman Ted Kluszewski, power hitting outfielders Gus Bell and Wally Post and 40 homers out of his catching duo of Ed Bailey and Smoky Burgess.  He brought the Reds in fourth in 1957 and was replaced late in the 1958 season.

The Milwaukee Braves brought Birdie in late in the 1961 season to finish out the campaign.  He led the Braves to a winning season in 1962 (86-76) but when he was offered the Indians managerial job in ’63, Birdie left Wisconsin and managed the last team he played for.  The Indians roster had little talent outside flame throwing left-hander Sudden Sam McDowell and Tebbetts never brought the Indians in any higher than fifth place.  Despite the punchless offense, the Indians had a dominant pitching staff.  Tebbetts managed the AL’s top strikeout staff in 1963 and 1964.  Although the Indians finished in the second division Birdie’s four years at the helm, he only had one losing season.  He was replaced by the Indians late in 1966–his last managerial assignment.

THE NUMBERS

G 1,162/R 357/H 1,000/2B 169/3B 22/HR 38/RBI 469/BB 389/SO 261/SB 29/BA .270/SA .358

AS MANAGER

W 748/L 705/PCT .515

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