Now is when the fun gets started. And our final election is a great precursor to what is to follow. For the only time in this first phase, thirteen elections, we’re electing as many as three candidates. Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, and Joe Torre will bring our Hall of Miller and Eric to eleven managers. That means we’re exactly half of the way toward filling our skipper wing. For those who need an update, here are our eleven.
Miller Huggins John McGraw Connie Mack Joe McCarthy Casey Stengel Walter Alston Earl Weaver Sparky Anderson Bobby Cox Joe Torre Tony La Russa
To those eleven, we’re going to add eleven more out of the group carried over from our thirteen preliminary elections. Today that group grows by one more, Lou Piniella. That means there are 29 managers who will occupy those eleven precious spots. Here are all 29 who still have a chance.
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 Tommy Lasorda Frank Robinson Lou Piniella
Hall of Miller and Eric
One of the most successful managers ever, Bobby Cox led the Braves, Blue Jays, and Braves again to a total of 2504 wins in 29 seasons. In every season that finished from 1991-2005 his Braves won the NL East, but they were generally disappointing in the playoffs. Perhaps this is because of how hard Cox pushed his starters. Chris Jaffe points out that Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, in particular, were quite weak on three days of rest but quite strong on regular rest. In any case, you can’t take the five pennants and the 1995 World Series away from Cox. He won 100 games six times, was Manager of the Year four times and in both leagues, and is fourth all-time in wins. He reached the Hall of Fame in 2014 with the two guys below, and he’s an easy call for the HoME as well.
We elected Joe Torre into the HoME in 1983, the first year he was eligible, which brings up an interesting question. Can the same person have more than one HoME plaque? Nobody has two Hall plaques, and combined accomplishments in Cooperstown are listed on existing plaques. We’ve spent a decent amount of time thinking about this, and we’re happy with our conclusion that someone can indeed have separate plaques for separate worthy careers. Joe Torre certainly is worthy. With six pennants and World Series titles in 1996, 1999, 1999, and 2000 to go with the fifth most wins ever, it’s clear. If you’re still wondering, he won more games and had a better winning percentage with the Yankees than HoMEr Miller Huggins. And he even won more games as a Yankee than Casey Stengel. Welcome back HoME, Joe.
Tony La Russa managed for 33 years and 5097 games. Those are numbers topped only by Connie Mack. And only Joe Torre topped his 70 playoff wins. He innovated in the pen and by batting his pitcher eighth. Many so-called “purists” didn’t like his frequent pitching changes in order to gain marginal advantages. And old timers didn’t think much of roster construction that took away from pinch hitters, pinch runners, and defensive replacements. La Russa didn’t much care. All he wanted to do was win. Sure, he was a lawyer. Sure, he was a smart baseball man. But he was a bulldog too. He won six pennants and three World Series, including one in 2011, his final year managing. Clearly this winner of 2728 games deserves his HoME plaque.
In two stints totaling twelve years, Cito Gaston led the Toronto Blue Jays. His top seasons were 1992 and 1993 when his Jays won the World Series. Three other times he reached the playoffs, and he won 894 games overall. However, he’s not worthy of a place in the HoME.
Trader Jack McKeon managed five teams over sixteen years and five decades. Oddly, he only managed eight complete seasons though. And he only once made the playoffs, winning the World Series with the 2003 Marlins. He won 1051 games at a .515 clip, but he’s less than HoME quality and won’t have a plaque hanging in that wing.