Managerial Management — Managers Who Were On A Short Leash

Fredi Gonzalez lasted 37 games into his fifth season as the managerial replacement of Bobby Cox with the Braves. It wasn’t an easy chore. Cox had managed the team for 20 years in which the Braves made 15 post-season appearances, and finished in first place 14 consecutive seasons, a professional sports record.

Gonzalez becomes the 54th manager in history to be replaced 37 or fewer games into a season. Just a year ago Ron Roenicke was fired after a 7-18 start with the Brewers, and in 2010 Trey Hillman was fired after a 12-23 start with the Royals.

Four early season managerial changes, however, were not because the team was struggling.

The saddest was Chuck Dressen, whose Tigers were 16-10 to open the 1966 season. He never managed another game. Having suffered a heart attack the previous spring, which had sidelined him for the first two months of the 1965 season, Dressen had a second heart attack on May 14, 1966. He suffered a kidney infection during his recovery, and died on Aug. 10, 1966 from cardiac arrest.

The quickest change came in Philadelphia in 1960. Eddie Sawyer, who had managed the Phillies to the World Series in 1950, returned to the team in July of 1958. The Phillies went 30-40 the rest of that season and finished in last place in 1959. When they lost the 1950 season opener 9-4 to the Reds Sawyer resigned and was replaced by Gene Mauch.

“I am 49 years old and want to live to be 50,” he explained.

Clyde Sukeforth managed the Dodgers to open the 1947 season, stepping down after winning both games he managed. Leo Durocher, the Dodgers manager at the time, was suspended for the 1947 season during spring training for associating with known gamblers.

As a result, Sukeforth managed the major-league debut of Jackie Robinson on Opening Day in 1947. He, however, declined to become the acting manager for the season, and returned to coaching with Burt Shotton managing the team. Sukeforth also declined to become the manager of the Pirates on Aug. 3, 1957 when Bobby Bragan was fired.

Hall of Fame pitcher Cy Young had a six-game managerial career, going 3-3 to open the 1907 season with the Boston Americans, as the Red Sox were known. He was asked to fill in after Boston manager Chick Stall committed suicide during spring training.

Two other short-term managers worth noting are El Tappe, who was 4-16 to open the 1962 with the Cubs, and Vedie Himsl, who was 10-21 with the 1961 Cubs. They were both a part of the Cubs College of Coaches, who rotated through the season as the Cubs managers in 1962 and 1963.

Managers were were replaced within the first 50 games of a season:

Manager Team Year Games
Eddie Sawyer Phillies 1960 1 (0-1)
Clyde Sukreforth Dodgers 1947 2 (2-0)
Phil Garner Tigers 2002 6 (0-6)
Cal Ripken, Sr. Orioles 1988 6 (0-6)
Cy Young Red Sox 1907 6 (3-3)
Jimmie Wilson Cubs 1944 10 (1-9)
Preston Gomez Padres 1972 11 (4-7)
Nick Leyva Phillies 1991 13 (4-9)
Larry Rothschild Rays 2001 14 (4-10)
Bob Lemon Yankees 1982 14 (6-8)
Kid Nichols Cardinals 1905 15 (5-9)
Dave Lopes Brewers 2002 15 (3-12)
Lew Fonseca White Sox 1934 15 (1-14)
Yogi Berra Yankees 1985 16 (6-10)
Vern Rapp Cardinals 1977 17 (6-11)
Al Lopez White Sox 1969 17 (8-9)
Charlie Grimm Cubs 1960 17 (6-11)
Billy Norman Tigers 1959 17 (2-15)
Deacon McGuire Indians 1911 17 (6-11)
Malachi Kittridge Senators I 1904 17 (1-16)
Davey Lopes Brewers 2002 18 (3-15)
Johnny Keane Yankees 1966 20 (4-16)
El Tappe Cubs 1962 20 (4-16)
Charlie Dressen Senators I 1957 20 (4-16)
Buddy Bell Rockies 2002 22 (6-16)
Tony Muster Royals 2002 23 (8-25)
Maury Wills Mariners 1981 24 (6-18)
Ron Roenicke Brewers 2015 25 (7-18)
Charlie Dressen Tigers 1966 26 (16-10)
Mel McGeha A’s 1965 26 (5-21)
Chuck Cottier Mariners 1986 28 (9-19)
Don Zimmer Cubs 1991 27 (8-19)
Johnny Oates Rangers 2001 28 (11-17)
Joe Birmingham Indians 1915 28 (12-16)
Bob Melvin Diamondbacks 2009 29 (12-17)
Dave Bristol Brewers 1972 30 (10-20)
Jack Onslow White Sox 1955 30 (8-22)
Jimmy Dykes White Sox 1946 30 (10-20)
Gene Lamont White Sox 1995 31 (11-20)
Vedie Himsl Cubs 1961 31 (10-21)
Jack Slattery Braves 1928 31 (11-20)
Doug Rader Rangers 1985 32 (9-23)
Tony Pena Rangers 2005 33 (8-25)
Trey Hillman Royals 2010 35 (12-23)
Tommy Holmes Braves 1952 35 (13-22)
Joe McCarthy Yankees 1946 35 (22-13)
Jimy Williams Blue Jays 1989 36 (12-24)
Johnny Goryl Twins 1981 36 (11-25)
Eddie Stanky Cardinals 1955 36 (17-19)
Freddi Gonzalez Braves 2016 37 (9-28)
Tommy Runnels Expos 1992 37 (17-20)
Frank Robinson Orioles 1991 37 (13-24)
John Wathan Royals 1991 37 (15-22)
Don Zimmer Cubs 1991 37 (18-19)
Mike Redmond Marlins 2015 38 (16-22)
Jeff Torborg Marlins 2003 38 (16-22)
Jeff Torborg Mets 1993 38 (13-25)
Ray Blades Cardinals 1940 38 (14-24)
Branch Rickey Cardinals 1925 38 (13-25)
Chuck Tanner Braves 1988 39 (12-27)
Bobby Winkles A’s 1978 39 (24-15)
Bill Rigney Angels 1969 39 (11-28)
Bobby Wallace Orioles 1912 39 (12-27)
Buck Rodgers Angels 1994 40 (16-24)
Mickey Vernon Rangers 1963 40 (14-26)
John McGraw Giants 1932 40 (17-23)
Horace Fogel Giants 1902 41 (18-23)
Jimmy Callahan White Sox 1904 41 (23-18)
Davey Johnson Mets 1990 42 (20-22)
Charlie Metro Royals 1970 42 (19-33)
Clyde King Giants 1970 42 (19-23)
Bob Swift Tigers 1965 42 (24-18)
Billy Jurges Red Sox 1960 42 (15-27)
Tony Perez Reds 1993 44 (20-24)
Steve Boros A’s 1984 44 (20-24)
Fred Haney Orioles 1941 44 (15-29)
George Frazier Mets 1977 45 (15-30)
Clint Hurdle Rockies 2009 46 (18-28)
Larry Bowa Padres 1988 46 (16-30)
George Bamberger Mets 1983 46 (16-30)
Dave Garcia Angels 1978 46 (25-21)
Charlie Grimm Braves 1956 46 (24-22)
Bob Coleman Braves 1943 46 (21-25)
Fielder Jones Orioles 1918 46 (22-44)
Joe Torre Cardinals 1995 47 (20-27)
Buck Rodgers Brewers 1982 47 (23-24)
Jim Fregosi Angels 1981 47 (22-25)
John Boles Marlins 2001 48 (22-26)
John McNamara Padres 1977 48 (20-28)
Buck Rodgers Nationals 1991 49 (20-29)
Bucky Dent Yankees 1990 49 (18-31)
Jack Tighe Tigers 1958 49 (21-28)
Charlie Grimm Cubs 1949 50 (19-31)


Cano True to his Word

Caught up with Robinson Cano in the spring. He said he was ready to have a Cano-type season. So far, so good.

Angels Looking to Re-Arm to Stay in Race

What the Angles thought was a strength — depth for the rotation — has become a concern.

Last week they acquired Jhoulys Chacin.

Now they are ready to sign Tim Lincecum, pending a physical.

Both will provide them reinforcements to what has become a major concern.

Bochy Has Reached Elite Managerial Level

Bruce Bochy refers to himself as lucky. He is in his 22nd season as a big league manager and has won three of the paqst six World Series.

It, however, takes more than luck to have sustained success. And a man who admits he never seriously thought about managing when his playing career ended laughs at the way his life has transformed.

Not too bad for someone who admits he became a manager more out of happenstance than planning.

“My last year playing in ’87, I was having a hard time with the left knee, and I said, ‘You know what, I think I’d like to manage,'” Bochy said. “Then the next year, I was a player/coach in Las Vegas. Right then is when I decided this is what I want to do. I still didn’t know I was going to manage in the Major Leagues, but I enjoyed it in the Minor Leagues.

“But somebody has to take a chance on you, and Randy Smith did that in 1995 in San Diego. I still remember when he said, `You’re my manager.’ I was numb. I just couldn’t believe that here I am and I’m going to be managing in the Major Leagues, and I thought about Dick Williams a lot at that time because I had played for him and he’s in the Hall of Fame now. He probably is shocked right now that I’m managing.”

More than that, Williams, like anyone who touched Bochy’s career would be proud of what he has done.

Bochy talks about the success of his teams in this week’s Q&A:

RBI, the Legacy of John Young

John Young played the game of baseball.

He coached.

He scouted.

Most of all, however, Young helped change the direction of baseball. It was Young, who grew up in South Central Los Angeles, who became concerned during his days in scouting about the lack of African-American prospects.

And he did something about it.

Young was the driving force behind the creation of Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), which has grown from an 11-player tryout camp in its inception in 1989 to its current status of 300 leagues in 200 cities not only in the United States, but also Canada, the Caribbean and South America.

Young, a long-time sufferer of diabetes, died in a Los Angeles-area hospital on May 8, three days after he had initially been admitted for amputation of a leg.

His impact on the game, however, will live forever.

“The legacy John has left with the RBI program is evident in the impact it has had on young people who have grown to be important contributors to our society as teachers, police officers, doctors, youth coaches and as professional baseball players,” Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.

It’s not just baseball that Young worked to bring back to inner cities, but it was opportunity for the youth of the inner cities. Yes, the RBI program was designed to try and create opportunities for African Americans in baseball, but it also provides guidance and college scholarships to help inner city youth improve their life.

It was a dream of Young that became a reality.

Young, himself, was a product of the inner city, a 27th round draft choice of the Cincinnati Reds when he came out of high school in 1969, who opted instead to attend Chapman College in Orange County, California. Two years later, after transferring to Fullerton College, he was a first-round selection of the Tigers in the January secondary draft.

He played professional for 10 years, but a career that ended in 1978 with the Mexico City Red Devils included only two games and four at-bats in the big leagues. He debuted with the Tigers on Sept. 9, 1971 with a pinch-hit at-bat against the Boston Red Sox, and then made his only big-league start on Sept. 27 that season, going 2-for-3 with an RBI against the New York Yankees.

Baseball, however, was his passion.

After his playing career he coached in the minor leagues for the Tigers for a year, then scouted for the Tigers (1980-81, 1983) and spent as year as their scouting director (1982). He later scouted for the San Diego Padres (1984), Seattle Mariners (1985-86), Texas (1987-91), and Florida Marlins (1992-94), and was a special assistant to Cubs general manager Dallas Green (1985-86), stepping down to devote his full-time attention to RBI.

Young signed 18 players who made it to the big leagues, including Shane Mack and Robb Nen.

Most of all, however, it was RBI that distinguished Young.

It was an idea that was born as he traveled around, scouting amateur players. He expressed his concerns to long-time baseball executive Roland Hemond, and commissioner Peter Ueberroth. Ueberroth, who had been the organized of the 1984 Summer OIympics in Los Angeles approached Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley about Young’s concern.

With Bradley’s guidance, Los Angeles provided a $50,000 grant and more funding came form AAU, which allowed for the creation of RBI. From that initial tryout of 11 players came an 18-team, 180-player league comprised of 13 and 14 year olds form inner city Los Angeles.

Young was able to enlist the assistance of big-league players Darryl Strawberry and Eric Davis, both produces of the inner city, to help give the program early credibility.

Major League Baseball assumed control of the program in 1972, and today it has been expended into four different tiers – a Junior Level of boys 13-to-15, senior level for 16-to-18 year olds, a girls softball program for girls up to 18, and in 2009 a Junior RBI program that includes softball for children six to 12.

There are regional playoffs every summer and an RBI World Series that is now televised on MLB Network. The list of big-league alumni include CC Sabathia, Jimmy Rollins, Coco Crips, Carl Crawford, and the Uptons, B.J., and Justin.

It is still a work in progress, but it represents a step forward for Major League Baseball thanks to John Young.

Thanks to Bobby Meacham Baseball Fans Saw Tony Gwynn

Monday would have been Tony Gwynn’s 56th birthday. Unfortunately, Gwynn, one of the nicest people and best hitters to ever wear a big-league uniform, was taken from us too early in life.

When his birthday was mentioned I thought back to a column I wrote the day he died, and how Bobby Meacham was so critical to Gwynn’s eventual Hall of Fame career.

Cubs 15th Team Since 1901 to Open Season 24-6 or better

Top results over first 30 games, From 1901 to 2016 – from Streak Analyzer

Tm  Sched  StartDate    EndDate      Games       W-L      WP     RS     RA     RD   Tot W-L   Rnk Postseason
DET sched  1984-04-03  1984-05-11     1-30      26-4      .867    182     91     91  104-58     1 WS Champ
NYG sched  1907-04-11  1907-05-22     1-30      25-5      .833    123     60     63   82-71     4 
BRO sched  1955-04-13  1955-05-15     1-30      25-5      .833    191    111     80   98-55     1 WS Champ
DET sched  1911-04-13  1911-05-16     1-30      25-5      .833    176    112     64   89-65     2 
PIT sched  1902-04-17  1902-05-21     1-30      25-5      .833    197     85    112  103-36     1 NL Pennant
PIT sched  1921-04-13  1921-05-21     1-30      24-6      .800    165     93     72   90-63     2 
NYY sched  1928-04-11  1928-05-21     1-30      24-6      .800    194    131     63  101-53     1 WS Champ
CHC sched  1907-04-11  1907-05-22     1-30      24-6      .800    107     66     41  107-45     1 WS Champ
NYY sched  1958-04-15  1958-05-25     1-30      24-6      .800    135     68     67   92-62     1 WS Champ
NYG sched  1905-04-14  1905-05-22     1-30      24-6      .800    172     73     99  105-48     1 WS Champ
OAK sched  1981-04-09  1981-05-09     1-30      24-6      .800    142     68     74   64-45     1 Division Champ
LAD sched  1977-04-07  1977-05-12     1-30      24-6      .800    180    105     75   98-64     1 NL Pennant
BOS sched  1946-04-16  1946-05-18     1-30      24-6      .800    185    118     67  104-50     1 AL Pennant
NYY sched  1939-04-20  1939-05-26     1-30      24-6      .800    187     92     95  106-45     1 WS Champ
CHC -----  2016-04-04  2016-05-08     1-30      24-6      .800    184     82    102   TBD       TBD

Thoughts and Stats on a Sunday

Dodger right-hander Kenta Maeda showed what pitching is all about at Coors Field on Saturday night. He worked 6 1/3 shutout innings, making an early adjustment after not being comfortable with his slider. Isn’t that what pitching is all about? Adjustments?

I remember talking to Burt Hooton about learning the knuckle curve when he was in college and pitched in the summer for the Boulder Collegians. The late Bus Campbell was a coach for the Collegians and the knuckle curve was his favorite pitch, even though he lived in the Denver area. Hooton said the pitch might not break at a mile high like it does at sea level, but it is still effective. It’s just a matter of adjusting the release point.

“But that’s what pitching is all about, adjustments,” said Hooton.


Maeda, a rookie in the big leagues but with impressive credentials from pitching his native Japan, has a 3-0 record and NL-leading 0.36 ERA after making four starts — against the Dodgers four NL West rivals. He has allowed one run in those four starts, the fewest runs allowed by a pitcher who started his first four appearances in the big leagues since at least 1913. Maeda, at age 28, is a bit older than the typical rookie pitcher, but that doesn’t diminish what he has done.

His one run beats out Dave Ferris, Red Sox, 1945, and Wayne Simpson, Reds, 1972, who allowed two each; and Steve Rogers, Expos, 1973, and Stu Miller, Cardinals, 1952, who each allowed three runs. Simpson was 21, Ferris and Rogers 23, and Miller, 24.


Hideo Nomo was another pitcher the Dodgers originally signed out of Japan, and he pitched the only no-hitter in Coors Field history. It was, however, on a very rainy night and the game didn’t start until 9 p.m. That doesn’t take away from Nomo’s effort, but it is interesting to note that in nine other starts at Coors Field he was 2-1 with a 9.67 ERA, .356 batting average, 11 home runs and 18 stolen bases allowed in 44 2/3 innings.


Yes, that was a wonderful throw that Dodger right fielder Yaisel Puig made to throw out Trevor Story at third base on Friday night, but that came underscored the frustrations with Puig and his inconsistency. In the seventh inning he fielded a fly ball to normal depth in right field, and Brandon Barnes was able to tag and scored the game tying run, setting up the Rockies victory, because Puig’s throw was nearly 20 feet off-line. That play underscores why runners will challenge Puig, knowing as strong an arm as he has that he is not consistent with accuracy.


Quick Hits: No-No, Yes-Yes

— Cubs pitcher Jake Arietta threw his second no-hitter in 11 starts on Thursday night at Cincinnati. That’s the third quickest a pitcher has pitched two no-hitters. Warren Span had two in seven starts Sept. 16, 1960 and April 28, 1961. Johnny Vander Meer had no-hitters in back-to-back starts June 11-June 15, 1938

–Carlos Gonzalez collected his 1,000th hit in 6th inning Wednesday at Cincinnati. He is 77th active player with 1,000 hits. Among those 77 he is 17th with a .291 average and 7th with a .526 slugging percentage, just ahead of Matt Holiday (eighth, .518), who he was traded for. The top six are Albert Pujols, .578; Miguel Cabrera .560; Alex Rodriguez .553; David Ortiz .548; Ryan Braun .545, and Joey Votto .530.

–The Rockies 2-0 victory against the Cubs at Wrigley Field last Sunday was the team’s first ever in which the Rockies won 2-0 and had two home runs. Nolan Arenado hit both of them.

–Trevor Story has eight home runs with nine games left in April. He has equaled the second highest home run total for a rookie in March/April. Jose Abreu of the White Sox hit 10 in 2014. Three others with eight are Albert Pujols in 2011, Carlos Delgado in 1994 and Kent Hbrek in 1982.


Not So Fast: Quick Starts Carry No October Guarantee

The Nationals and Cubs are off to fast starts.

The best record in April, however, carries no guarantees.


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