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NL Managers and the Hall

One of 11 Cardinal teams to win the World Series, the 1967 squad.

One of 11 Cardinal teams to win the World Series, the 1967 squad.

A week ago, mostly because I tripped upon the Yankees having ten Hall of Famers among the 24 eligible men who have managed them at least 100 games, we looked at the Hall of Fame managers with each American League franchise.

Today, we’re going to do the same with the National League. Which team do you think has had the most Hall of Famers? The easy call is the team with the most World Series titles in the NL, the Cardinals, so I’ll go with them. Let’s dive right in to find the real answer.

Arizona Diamondbacks

They’ve been around only since 1998, so we shouldn’t expect much greatness here. And sure enough, not a single guy managed even five seasons in the desert. They’ve had just eight managers, only four of whom are eligible. Kirk Gibson leads the franchise in wins, followed by Bob Melvin and Bob Brenley. As of yet they have no Hall of Famers. But Buck Showalter may have a shot one day. And Alan Trammell (1-2 in 2014) just needs the right Veterans Committee to put him in.

Atlanta Braves

Bobby Cox, 1978In their various forms, the Braves have been around since the beginning of baseball time, 1876. They’ve had 47 managers in all, though only 28 of them managed a second season. And just 35 of them managed 100 games. Of those 35, the current skipper, Freddi Gonzalez, isn’t eligible. And the Hall of Famers are plentiful. Bobby Cox stands atop their all-time wins list. He’s followed by fellow Hall of Famer Frank Selee. George Stallings breaks things up, but fourth and fifth on the list are Bill McKechnie and Billy Southworth. Those four provide the lead-in for Casey Stengel, Joe Torre, Harry Wright, Dave Bancroft, Eddie Mathews, Joe Kelley, and Rogers Hornsby. That’s eleven Hall of Famers. And if we drop our standard to 95 games at the helm, we bring in King Kelly too. If you’re eligible and you managed the Braves for at least 95 games, you have more than a 35% chance of being a Hall of Famer. Take that St. Louis!

We think of Joe Torre as a Yankee, and we should. However, let’s not forget that he won nearly half of his games with different organizations – 1173 to 1153. In addition to the Yanks, Torre managed four NL squads, the Mets, Braves, Cardinals, and Dodgers. And it was in Atlanta, not New York, that he made his first playoff appearance. Led by Dale Murphy and Steve Bedrosian, the 1982 Braves edged the Dodgers by a single game for the NL West title and met the Cardinals in the NLCS. Unfortunately for them, they scored just five runs in the three-game sweep. In those three games they put up just one extra base hit, a Bruce Benedict double, and only six walks. Better news was coming for Torre and for the Braves, not to worry.

Chicago Cubs

Right before I look at the Cub managerial page at BBREF, I’ve begun to make bets with myself. Over or under 50 managers? I went with the over, just by a little. And I was wrong, it’s well over 50. Since 1876, the Cubs have employed 60 guys in the managerial role. Only four of those guys stayed for more than five seasons. Yeah, the Cubs have been pretty bad. The winningest manager they’ve ever had is Hall of Famer Cap Anson. He’s joined by Frank Chance, Leo Durocher, Joe McCarthy, Frank Selee, Gabby Hartnett, Frankie Frisch, Rogers Hornsby, and Johnny Evers among eligibles who have managed 100 games. The Cubs employed six more Hall of Famers to manage from 23-78 games, Al Spalding, Hank O’Day, Roger Bresnahan, Joe Tinker, Lou Boudreau, and Rabbit Maranville. So there are 46 eligible Cub managers who led the club for at least 27 games. Of those 46, a stunning 15, or nearly 33% are in the Hall of Fame.

If you’re wondering, Joe Tinker led the Cubs in 1916 to a 67-86 record. Johnny Evers managed in 1913 and for part of 1921. Overall he went 129-120. The big winner of this trio was Frank Chance. The Peerless Leader oversaw the last Cub glory days, winning four pennants and the last two Cubbie World Series (1907-1908) during his stint from 1905-1912, during which he went 768-389.

Cincinnati Reds

Sparky Anderson, 1978Unlike for the Cubs, I wouldn’t have guessed that the Reds have had 60 managers, but they have. Nobody has ever lasted a decade in Cincinnati. They’ve had 21 guys manage a season or less. And only 15 have even made it into a fourth season. But those facts don’t mean they’ve been without Hall of Famers. There are 42 eligibles who managed at least 100 games for them. Hall of Famers include all-time win leader, Sparky Anderson, runner-up Bill McKechnie, Buck Ewing, Joe Kelley, Clark Griffith, Charlie Comiskey, Christy Mathewson, Ned Hanlon, Bid McPhee, Rogers Hornsby, Joe Tinker, and Hank O’Day. That’s a dozen guys, good for a percentage nearing 29%.

Frank Bancroft made his last managerial stop in Cincinnati where he led the Reds to a 9-7 record in 1902. He had six other major league stops, good for a record seven clubs managed overall. He started with the Worcester Ruby Legs in 1880, moved to the Detroit Wolverines for the next two, switched to the Cleveland Blues in 1883, won the World Series for the Providence Grays in 1884 and stuck around for a year after that. He took 1886 and 1888 off. In between those vacations, he managed part of the year with the American Associations Philadelphia A’s in 1887 and the Indianapolis Hoosiers in 1889. Bancroft was a well-travelled guy.

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies haven’t been very good since they came into existence in 1993. They’ve never won a division, and they’ve only made the playoffs three times. Their best season was 2007 when they were swept by the Red Sox in the World Series. Still, they’ve done a fine job sticking with their managers. None of their six guys have records above .500, and current manager Walt Weiss brings up the rear in that category. Perhaps he won’t be their future manager. They’ve employed no Hall of Famers as managers. Clint Hurdle has their most wins. I’d love Buddy Bell to get some Hall consideration. And Jim Leyland, their shortest tenured manager, has a good shot for some Hall love one day.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Tommy Lasorda, 1978Very much unlike some of their National League compatriots who have run through 60 managers, the Dodgers have devoted huge chunks of their history to three guys. Walter Alston, Tommy Lasorda, and Wilbert Robinson managed this franchise for 62 years. Not surprisingly, all are in the Hall of Fame. The Dodgers have fielded only 31 managers ever. And they’ve used just 18 in the last century. Pretty amazing. On the other hand, they’ve been willing to go through managers, as just ten guys have ever seen a fourth season in Dodger blue. There are 25 eligibles with at least 100 games managed, and joining the aforementioned trio in the Hall are Leo Durocher, Ned Hanlon, Joe Torre, Casey Stengel, Max Carey, Burleigh Grimes, and Monte Ward. That’s 40%, the highest non-Yankee total thus far.

Is there a bright future for this franchise? Might they pass the Yankees? Don Mattingly is off to a pretty strong start. He has a great shot of making it to the playoff for a third year in a row, and with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the playoffs, LA could go a long way. There’s also hope for Davey Johnson at some point. He won a World Series with the Mets in 1986, finished first both of his full seasons in Cincinnati, and he won a division in one of his two seasons in Baltimore and Washington. He’s 29th in wins, topping a guy like Whitey Herzog. I think there’s a chance. Perhaps the best chance for the Dodgers to add another manager comes later this year. Bill Dahlen managed the club quite unsuccessfully from 1910-1913, but he’s one of the greatest shortstops ever and perhaps the most overlooked player outside the Hall. Should he get the nod when the Pre-Integration Committee meets this December, the Dodgers will be at 44% and outpacing the Yankees.

Miami Marlins

For a team that won the World Series twice in their first eleven years, the Marlins have been awful. They’ve never won the division, and they’ve finished last seven times. They’ve reached 90 wins twice and 90 losses seven times, not including 2015. Not surprisingly, their managers haven’t stuck around long. Only Jack McKeon and Cookie Rojas (1-0) are above .500. But they do have one Hall of Famer. Tony Perez led them to a 54-60 record in 2001 after taking over for John Boles. And who knows about Jim Leyland and Joe Girardi? Even if they don’t get back to the playoffs for a while, Miami may add a pair of Hall managers.

Milwaukee Brewers

Since entering the American League in 1969, the Brewers have employed 19 managers, not one a Hall of Famer. Phil Garner leads the franchise in wins. Harvey Kuenn is the only man to lead them to a World Series and has the best winning percentage among Brewer skippers with over a dozen games managed.

New York Mets

Joe Torre, 1978Seven years older than the Brewers, the Mets have used just 20 managers in their history. Three are in the Hall: Joe Torre, Yogi Berra, and Casey Stengel. I’m pulling for Willie Randolph and maybe Davey Johnson to join then. And there are still a lot of people who hope for Gil Hodges.

Philadelphia Phillies

Since 1883 the Phillies have been pretty awful. Sure, there have been some good times. Mike Schmidt led them to the playoffs a bunch of times from 1976-1983. And Chase Utley and company had a nice run from 2007-2011. But basically, they’ve stunk. Even so, they’ve gone through just 53 managers, only 36 of whom managed a second season. There are 36 eligible managers with at least 100 games in the dugout, and just two of them, Harry Wright and Hugh Duffy, are in the Hall. Maybe the Phillies haven’t been good because they haven’t surrounded themselves with winners. Maybe. I don’t know. But if that is the case, they’re taking a step forward now by employing Ryne Sandberg as their manager. Maybe he’ll turn everything around. Oh, wait. What’s that? Sandberg was replaced a couple of months ago by Pete Mackanin? Well, so much for that theory.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Debuting in 1882, the Pirates have a comparatively small group of managers with just 45 in total. Long tenures by Fred Clarke, Danny Murtaugh, Jim Leyland, and Chuck Tanner have helped to assure that. On the other hand, they’ve also had some short stretches. Of the 42 eligibles, only 30 managed even 100 games. Of that group, there is an impressive seven Hall of Famers. Fred Clarke, Frankie Frisch, Pie Traynor, Bill McKechnie, Connie Mack, Billy Herman, and Ned Hanlon all have plaques hanging in Cooperstown. That’s more than 23%

Yeah, Connie Mack managed the Pirates. In the last month of 1894, he was promoted to player/manager, a role he owned for the next two years as well. In his two full seasons, the Pirates finished sixth and seventh. And even though Mack remained with the Pirates for two more years, he was replaced at the helm by Patsy Donovan. Donovan managed them to an eighth place finish in ’97. Veteran Bill Watkins took over for Donovan and again led the Pirates to eighth place. So they brought back Donovan for another year in 1899. This time they finished seventh. Fred Clarke turned things around in 1900 with a second place finish. In fact, the Pirates went 14 seasons under Clarke without ever finishing outside the top-4. Luckily for Mack the A’s gave him another chance in 1901.

San Diego Padres

Since 1969, the San Diego Padres have made the playoffs just five times, losing in the World Series in 1984 and 1998. As a result of this mediocrity, you’d think they would have plowed through a lot of managers, but they haven’t really. Only 18 men have ever managed the Padres. Seven of them never got a second season. The reason for this relative stability is because they’ve had only two leaders for 21 years, Bruce Bochy and Bud Black. Bochy’s record upon leaving for San Francisco speaks for itself. And Black was given a lot of rope before being replaced this year, as he never won the NL West and only one finished second. Overall, Dick Williams is the only Hall of Famer they’ve ever employed. If Bochy hangs around San Francisco for a few more years, I think he’s going to get a plaque at some point as well.

San Francisco Giants

Their inaugural season was 1883, yet they’ve employed only 38 managers ever. And only 22 of them got into a second season. That’s what having seven managers put in 8-10 years will do. Oh, plus John McGraw and his 31. Overall the Giants have 23 eligible managers who led them for at least 100 games. Of that group John McGraw, Bill Terry, Leo Durocher, Mel Ott, Frank Robinson, Monte Ward, and George Davis are in the Hall. That’s good for over 30%. Four other Giant skippers made the Hall but managed 76 games or fewer: Hughie Jennings, Buck Ewing, Rogers Hornsby, and Cap Anson. An interesting case could be made for Roger Craig or even Dusty Baker moving forward. But I think the next Giant manager to reach the Hall will be Bruce Bochy.

St. Louis Cardinals

For a successful franchise, the Cardinals have employed a huge number of managers, 63. On the other hand, they seem to know when they have someone who’s good. Eleven men have managed five years or more. And three reached eleven. Just as they know what they want, they seem to also know what they don’t. Of their 63 managers, 30 of them have failed to reach 100 games. And only 20 have topped two full seasons of work. Hall of Famers are plentiful, in fact the top seven on their all-time wins list are in. Tony LaRussa, Red Schoendienst, Whitey Herzog, Billy Southworth, Charlie Comiskey, Branch Rickey, and Frankie Frisch lead off. Add to those seven Joe Torre, Miller Huggins, Roger Bresnahan, Rogers Hornsby, Bill McKechnie, and Kid Nichols, and you have 13 members of the Hall among the 32 eligibles with at least 100 games managed. That’s nearing 41%, a tick better than the Dodgers, at least at this point. I’ll call my rather weak prediction correct.

In case you’re wondering, Hall of Famers Roger Connor and Tommy McCarthy managed 46 and 27 games for the Cards respectively. And I can dare to dream about Jack Glasscock, he of the 1-3 record in 1892, getting into Cooperstown.

Washington Nationals

Dick Williams, 1978The Expos and National have been to the playoffs just three times since they joined the NL in 1969. Two of those times have been in the last three years. This is a pretty abysmal record, so it’s a bit of a surprise that they’ve hired only 16 managers ever. It’s helped that Gene Mauch, Buck Rogers, and Felipe Alou took up a bunch of years by themselves. There are just two Hall of Famers among these 16, Frank Robinson and Dick Williams.


As expected, the Cardinal percentage of Hall managers, nearing 41%, is the highest of any NL club by this system. The Dodgers are in a virtual tie at 40%. The Braves at 35%, the Cubs at 33%, and Giants at 30% are the next three. The Reds check in at 29%, while the Pirates boast a relatively small number, 23%.

All in all, that have been a ton of Hall of Fame players who have also managed. Some, like Cap Anson, Joe Cronin, and Hughie Jennings have had a fair amount of success. But many Hall of Famers have really just been place-fillers in the dugout. The careers of Bill Dickey, Larry Doby, Three Finger Brown, Bid McPhee, Luke Appling, and Honus Wagner have almost entirely been forgotten. Thankfully.

And in case you haven’t been able to see by the cards shown in these two posts, 1978 was a bit of a golden age for managers. Eight Hall of Famers were running clubs that year: Earl Weaver, Whitey Herzog, Bob Lemon, Bobby Cox, Spakky Anderson, Tommy Lasorda, Joe Torre, and Dick Williams. And let’s not forget Billy Martin and Gene Mauch.




3 thoughts on “NL Managers and the Hall

  1. Of managers not currently in the Hall and eligible, my first choice for enshrinement would be Murtaugh.
    BTW I would have also guessed Cards and would have missed the Dodgers badly because of the length of time Alston, Robinson, and Lasorda got.
    Nice overall look at both leagues.

    Posted by verdun2 | September 16, 2015, 7:57 am
    • I like Murtaugh. I’m not sure I know enough yet to say whether I’d put him in the top-22, but it’s clear to me he’s among the 50 best. That’s not really going out on a limb, of course. The second stint in Pittsburgh was pretty great, particularly compared to the first. Still, lots of all-time greats have struggled at times.

      Posted by Miller | September 16, 2015, 5:59 pm

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