As I mentioned on Monday, this is a pretty stacked election. I feel quite confident saying that Earl Weaver is among the ten or so best managers ever. And there are many, many smart people who would put and of Dick Williams, Whitey Herzog, and Billy Martin in the top two-dozen.
But there’s no real need to rank anyone at this point. Managers are either in or out. Or, well, they move to the second phase of our project. Never before have we had more than four managers reach our second round. Today there are five: Ralph Houk, Williams, Martin, Herzog, and Red Schoendienst. Here’s the complete list of 26.
Jim Mutrie Harry Wright Charlie Comiskey Cap Anson Frank Selee Ned Hanlon Fred Clarke Clark Griffith George Stallings Frank Chance Hughie Jennings Wilbert Robinson Bill Terry Bill McKechnie Billy Southworth Steve O'Neill Bucky Harris Charlie Grimm Al Lopez Leo Durocher Danny Murtaugh Ralph Houk Dick Williams Billy Martin Whitey Herzog Red Schoendienst
With five guys continuing and Earl Weaver becoming the seventh manager in that wing of the Hall of Miller and Eric, that means there will be five obituaries this time around. So that means there are six from this election who we’re no longer considering. In other words, despite the five who carry over, we’ve now gotten through more than half of our initial hundred managers up for consideration.
Remaining Remaining Year Nominees Elected Obituaries Continuing to Consider to Elect ================================================================================= 1990 11 1 5 5 49 15 1980 7 1 4 2 55 16 1970 8 1 6 1 60 17 1960 8 0 4 4 67 18 1950 6 2 2 2 71 18 1940 4 1 2 1 75 20 1930 6 1 3 2 78 21 1920 7 0 4 3 82 22 1910 7 0 5 2 86 22 1900 13 0 9 4 91 22
Hall of Miller and Eric
Without a doubt, Earl Weaver is my favorite pre-Francona manager in baseball history. He won four pennants and the 1970 World Series in Baltimore. In his first stint with the O’s, from 1968-1982, disregarding the strangeness of the 1981 split season, Weaver finished fourth once, third once, second six times, and first six times. That’s a pretty remarkable record. Overall he won 1480 games at a .583 clip. Having great pitching and defense didn’t hurt. But it was his innovative strategy that made him so great. And those tirades on the field were fun too. Nobody ever championed the big inning more than Earl. He loved hitters who would draw walks and pitchers who wouldn’t allow them. As a result, his teams walked more than they allowed all 17 years of his career. Perhaps because he platooned and got the best out of his players and perhaps because other managers rode their best players too hard early on, Weaver’s teams improved and improved and improved as the season wore on, almost on a monthly basis. Chris Jaffe postulates that since neither his hitters nor pitchers improved too much, the difference in victories may be attributable to Earl. I think part of the improvement must have been because everyone always knew their role with Weaver. There was a confidence in playing time and reasoning that didn’t exist nearly as much with other teams. With Earl Weaver, we’re more than a third of the way through our 22 managerial HoMErs.
After the 1978 Yankees fired Billy Martin, they took off. Bob Lemon managed them to a 48-20 record over the last two-plus months, capped off by a World Series victory in October. He also managed the Royals and White Sox and took home his second pennant in 1981. He was a better player than manager though, and he didn’t come very close to the HoME as a player.
Bill Virdon managed four teams over thirteen years. Though he made the playoffs three times, his teams never won a playoff series, always losing in five games. His best work might have been in Houston from 1975-1982. His most trivially interesting work, however, might have been in Montreal and Pittsburgh. In Pittsburgh, he succeeded and was succeeded by Danny Murtaugh. And in Montreal, he succeeded and was succeeded by Jim Fanning. Virdon will not succeed in his quest for the HoME.
I don’t know that Dick Howser was a great manager, but he sure has a great legacy. Howser died of a brain tumor in 1987, winner of 507 games overall and the 1985 World Series with the Royals. His was the first number the Royals ever retired. And every year the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association presents the Dick Howser Trophy to the country’s best college baseball player. Howser won’t move on to the next stage of HoME voting, but he’ll be remembered for many, many years to come.
Gene Mauch managed for 26 seasons and never won a pennant. In fact, he didn’t even reach the playoffs for his first 22. He’s 12th all-time in wins but 4th in losses. And speaking of losses, the MLB record for consecutive defeats is 24. He piloted the 1961 Phillies to 23 loses in a row and the 1969 Expos to 20 straight defeats. Only Connie Mack is more games below .500 for his career. As far as the HoME goes, chalk up another loss for Mauch.
Chuck Tanner spent a lot of his 19 managerial seasons toward the bottom of the league. Not in 1979 though. That year his ‘We Are Family’ Pirates beat the Orioles to win it all. Tanner was one of the more hands-off managers ever to walk the dugout. He let players do what they wanted. I don’t want to point the finger too closely at any one person, but it seems to me that Tanner must have known about the drug use on his team that led to the Pittsburgh Drug Trials of 1985. Might intervention on his part helped to make Dave Parker a Hall of Famer? We’ll never know. As it is, neither he nor Parker has a plaque in Cooperstown or in the HoME.