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Meandering Managerial Motivation Musings

I’m not an expert on motivation. I know that. In the Public Speaking class I teach, I’ve written a chapter in our textbook about organizing and outlining speeches. I assign it to my students to read, so they can write outlines for their speeches that look somewhat like those in the chapter. You know, because it’ll help them deliver better speeches. Some do a fine job. Others show that they’ve never even looked at the chapter. That their college professor wrote! If I can’t even get them to do that, my motivation skills must be lacking somewhere.

What’s more, I’m not sure I can identify great motivation when I see it. As it pertains to baseball managers, there are all sorts. There are drill sergeants, best friends, and everyone in between. One type might be able to motivate some players, but not all. And no type, it seems, can motivate players for long periods of time.

As Eric and I started this conversation, he began talking about manager peaks, as if that’s a thing. It turns out that it’s not just a thing, it’s a huge thing. It’s a thing that may be even more important than peak is to a player. The reason? I think it’s motivation.

But this post isn’t about motivation. I already admitted I don’t know what motivation is all about. And as it turns out, it’s not about manager peaks either. It’s more of an information dump about how managers, generally, win early or don’t win at all.

For managers, their best years come really, really early while working for a team.

  • There have been 70 World Series won by managers who aren’t in the HoME.
  • Of those, 59 winners are eligible now (or will be next time managers are up for a vote).
  • Of that group, it’s really interesting to look at when they won.
    • 19 guys in their first year.
    • 15 guys in their second year.
    • 15 guys in their third year.
    • Billy Southworth, Dick Howser, Cito Gaston, and Charlie Manuel 4th
    • Tommy Lasorda 5th
    • Leo Durocher and Tom Kelly 6th
    • Lou Boudreau 7th
    • Fred Clarke, 10th
    • Tommy Lasorda, 12th

For those bad at summarizing numbers quickly, that’s 83% of all World Series not won by the elite managers in history (our 12 HoMErs) have happened in a manager’s first three years on the job.

If you were to say that it’s not unusual for managers not to have so many years on the job, you’d be right. Of the 694 managers in the game’s history, only 259 of them, or 37%, even saw four total years in the majors.

Here’s the breakdown of all stints of four years or more in baseball history:

Years    Number
 50        1
 29        1
 22        1
 20        1
 19        2
 18        1
 16        4
 15        3
 14        1
 13        1
 12        7
 11        3
 10        3
  9       11
  8       15
  7       17
  6       22
  5       39
  4       62
Total    195

The Detail

What you can see above is that there have been only 195 stints of four or more full years ever. There have only been 133 of five or more years. And there have been only 94 times in the game’s history when a manager has lasted for six full seasons with one team.

There have been 38 managers who the fine folks at BBREF say have managed in four seasons. Only seven of those guys were allowed to manage four full years with a team. Mike Matheny and Robin Ventura hardly count, as both are active with their original teams. Then we have Dave Bancroft, Bill Dahlen, and Ted Williams. Great players might have been allowed to hang on for a fourth full season. Finally, we have a player/manager in Dave Foutz and the 1917 World Series winner in Pants Rowland..

There have been 36 managers who have five managerial seasons under their belts. Not surprisingly, this group was somewhat more successful keeping their jobs than the former group. Eight of these guys managed for four full seasons without ever winning a title, and not surprisingly four are in the Hall or HoME. If you keep your job and don’t win, you’d have better been a pretty decent player. In this group we have seven guys who managed for five years with one franchise. Guys like Larry Dierker and Don Mattingly got to the playoffs a lot and lost. Ossie Bleuge managed during WWII. Eddie Dyer won the World Series in his first year and hung on. Red Dooin was a player/manager. Billy Meyer seemed to get lucky. And Kid Gleason hung around after the Black Sox scandal.

Of the 22 guys who managed in the majors for six seasons, not many of them were successful at staying with a team. Ken Macha, Tony Muser, and Pete Rose all made if for four years. Pie Traynor and Jimmy Collins made it for five, the latter needing a World Series title in his third full season. And Ty Cobb made it six years.

This study remains disappointing through the 23 guys who managed for seven seasons. Fred Mitchel, Herman Franks, Lloyd McClendon, and Walter Johnson managed four-year stints. Buck Ewing (player/manager), Sam Mele, and Tom Trebelhorn lasted for five. And Mel Ott as a player/manager and Jack Hendricks made it through six.

Through this stage, there have been only 37 managerial stints of four or more full seasons. Maybe those who managed for eight seasons will add to our total. There have been only 140 such men to manage for at least eight seasons in the bigs.

Nineteen of them managed for exactly eight, though not necessarily eight full. Hank Bauer, Lum Harris, Pinky Higgins, Dick Howser, Gene Lamont, and Horace Phillips add to our list of guys with four full seasons with one team. Roger Peckinpaugh made it for five. Danny Ozark piloted the Phillies for six. And both Tris Speaker and Ron Washington led their squads for seven years, Speaker winning the World Series in his first full campaign, Washington getting there twice.

There are 21 guys with nine years as major league managers. Del Baker, Mayo Smith, and Jimmie Wilson each have four-year runs. Gil Hodges has two such runs. And Pat Moran has one of four and one of five. Fredi Gonzalez has been with the Braves for five years and counting. Don Baylor and Jerry Manuel managed the Rockies and White Sox, respectively, for six full each. Ozzie Guillen led the White Sox for seven seasons, with a title in his second year. Jim Mutrie led the Giants for seven too, winning titles in his fourth and fifth. Bud Black was a Padre for eight seasons. And Joe Girardi has been a Yankee going on nine after winning the World Series in his second season.

Of every manager, save the 100 who managed for ten or more seasons in the majors, there have been 61 stints of four or more seasons. At this point we’d expect nearly everyone else to represent at least one four-year stint. Let’s see what the guys with 10+ have in store.

Sure enough, of the seven managers who have run the show for a decade, they add six stints of 4+. Luke Sewell had four without a title with the Browns. Fielder Jones had four with one in his second full season with the White Sox. Branch Rickey led the Cards for six, Roger Craig the Giants for seven, and Eric Wedge the Indians for seven. Our longest stint so far, pending Joe Girardi’s future, is Bill Terry with nine full years running the New York Giants, powered by playing greatness and a World Series title his first year at the helm.

Our next fourteen managers all ran clubs for 11 seasons or parts thereof. And they’ll add eight streaks of four or more seasons. We start with Birdie Tebbets and four years with the Reds. Next is Jim Tracy and the Dodgers for five, Terry Collins and the Mets for five plus, Johnny Oates and the Rangers for six, Burt Shotten and the Phillies for six, Frank Chance and the two-time champ Cubs for seven, Patsy Tebeau and the Spiders for seven, and Jimmy McAleer and the Browns for eight.

Ten more men managed for a dozen years. And they put up twelve more periods of four full seasons. Jimy Williams ran the Red Sox for four. Bob Melvin led the Diamondbacks for four and has completed four with the A’s. Charlie Comiskey managed the Reds for four and the Browns for five. Ned Yost skippered the Phillies for five and has gotten through five years so far in Kansas City. Four years from Fred Hutchinson with the Reds, five for Jim Riggleman with the Cubs, six for Paul Richards and the Orioles, and nine for Joe Maddon and the Rays. Charlie Manuel won the World Series in his second of eight full seasons with the Phillies, and Cito Gaston won in his third and fourth of eight seasons with the Blue Jays.

The eight guys who managed for 13 seasons add nine more periods of 4+. That’s what Al Dark had with the Giants. Billy Southworth had five with the Cardinals, including World Series titles in his second and fourth full years, plus five more with the Braves. Clint Hurdle had six years with the Rockies and is entering his sixth with the Pirates. Bill Virdon had six with the Astros, which is also what Buck Rogers had with the Expos. George Stallings managed eight years with the Braves, buoyed by a championship in his second season. And in spite of never winning, Ron Gardenhire managed the Twins for 13 years.

Our six managers with 14 seasons add seven more periods. Steve O’Neill led the Tigers for six campaigns, including a title in his third. Red Schoendienst also won a title in his third year of twelve with the Cardinals. Bill Barnie led the American Association’s Orioles for nine campaigns. And two others had two tours. Art Howe gave five years to the Astros and seven to the A’s. Felipe Alou led the Expos for eight seasons and the Giants for another four.

With only 55 managers left to review, we have 104 periods of 4+ seasons managed.

Our next group is the five guys who managed for 15 years. Danny Murtaugh skippered the Pirates for parts of fifteen seasons in four separate stints, once running things for seven years and winning twice – the third year of his first stint and the first year of his third. Jim Fregosi lasted for five years in Philadelphia, and Phil Garner lasted for seven in Milwaukee. Terry Francona is entering his fourth year in Cleveland, but he already has stints of four in Philly and eight in Boston. And Joe Cronin lasted for a dozen years in Boston while only getting to the World Series once.

Those six stints bring us to 110. Now we’ll review the 13 managers with 16 years of experience. Mike Scioscia has had just one job. He’s entering his 17th year with the Angels, despite only one title in 2002. Tom Kelly ran the Twins for sixteen years, winning the World Series in his first and fifth full. Three straight pennants to start his career gave Hughie Jennings 14 years with the Tigers. In the days before the World Series, Frank Selee led the Beaneaters to five pennants in twelve years. Lou Boudreau won in his seventh of nine years in Cleveland. Mike Hargrove spent eight years in Cleveland and another four in Baltimore. A World Series title in his first year gave Frankie Frisch four years with the Cardinals and another six with the Giants. Bobby Valentine had stints of six years each with the Rangers and Mets. Frank Robinson managed a stint of five years with the Expos/Nationals. Overall, that’s twelve more stints for a total of 122.

Thirteen more managers spent 17-19 years in the majors. Wilbert Robinson is our leader in the clubhouse, spending 18 seasons as the helm of the Brooklyn Robins without winning a title. Fred Clarke lasted for sixteen seasons in Pittsburgh, winning the World Series in his tenth. Earl Weaver ran the Orioles for 15 straight years even though his only title was in his second full season. Five years with the Cardinals preceded eleven and three titles with the Yankees for Miller Huggins. Al Lopez spent six years chasing the Yankees from Cleveland and then nine more doing the same from Chicago. Chuck Tanner has two qualifying stints, leading the White Sox for five years and the Pirates for another nine, including a World Series win in his third. After running the Royals for four years, Whitey Herzog became the Whitey we know spending nine years in St. Louis, winning a Series in his second. Bill Rigney skippered the Giants for four years as they transitioned to California, and then he led the Angels for eight more. A six-year run for the Orioles preceded a seven-year term for the Superbas and Ned Hanlon, winner of five NL pennants before the World Series era. Davey Johnson won in his third of six years with the Mets. Charlie Grimm had two qualifying stints for the Cubs, the first of five years and the second of four. Buck Schowalter is our first skipper with three qualifying stints, four with the Yankees and Rangers, now five plus with the Orioles. This group adds 21 qualifying runs for a total of 143.

There are 14 managers with 20-24 years of service. It was four titles in 22 full seasons with the Dodgers for Walter Alston. Tommy Lasorda managed just one team, running the Dodgers for 19 years, including titles in his fifth and twelfth seasons. Cap Anson also had a 19-year run for Chicago’s NL entry. It was seven titles in fifteen years with the Yankees for Joe McCarthy, which came after a four-year run with the Cubs. Perhaps the first real manager, Harry Wright led Boston for twelve years as they moved from the NA to the NL. And then he spent another ten years running Philadelphia in the NL. Bruce Bochy is active royalty, managing the Padres for twelve years and the Giants to three titles in nine plus. Jim Leyland has stints of 11 seasons in Pittsburgh and eight in Detroit but won his only title in Florida. Jimmy Dykes ran the White Sox for eleven years without a title. Lou Piniella won in Cincy, but it’s in Seattle that he lasted for ten years. The much-maligned Dusty Baker must have done something right to have qualifying runs with the Giants (10), Reds (6), and Cubs (4). Nine years with the Senators followed a stint of nine with the Highlanders for the pretty uncommon pitcher/manager, Clark Griffith. Leo Durocher had three qualifying stints—eight years with the Dodgers, seven with the Giants, and seven with the Cubs. Ralph Houk won two titles in his career, and then he had three qualifying stints, seven with the Yankees, five with the Tigers, and four with the Red Sox. Vagabond Dick Williams won titles with Oakland in 1972-1973, but his two qualifying stints came later, managing the Expos and Padres for four years each.

As we approach the managers with the ten longest careers, we add 26 qualifying streaks for a total of 169. Our top ten give us 26 more stints. That’s 195 total. Connie Mack spent 50 years with the A’s. John McGraw was a Giant for 29 seasons. Bobby Cox’s 20 years in Atlanta was his third qualifying stint. He previously had four years with the Blue Jays and before that four more with the Braves. Tony La Russa spent 16 years with the Cardinals after nine in Oakland and six with the White Sox. Sparky Anderson was in Detroit for 16 years after spending nine in Cincinnati. Joe Torre had three qualifying runs. Let’s start with the Yankees (12), move to the Mets (4), and then count the Cardinals (4). Casey Stengel managed the Yankees for twelve after five with the Bees/Braves. Bill McKechnie had three NL stints, eight with Cincinnati, eight with Boston, and four with Pittsburgh. Bucky Harris qualified with Detroit (4) and Washington three times (8, 5, and 5). And Gene Mauch spent seven campaigns with the Phillies, seven more with the Expos, and four with the Twins.

All-Time Losers

Gene Mauch is somewhat famous for managing a record 26 years without winning a World Series. Jimmy Dykes (21) and Dusty Baker (20) are the only other two in the World Series era with a score of seasons. Clark Griffith started before the World Series began, but he got to 20 too. All told, there are just 44 men who managed for ten years or parts thereof who never won a World Series. But 19 of them at least got there. Let’s look at the 22 who got through a decade without ever getting to the promised land.

  • The Indians let Eric Wedge manage for seven seasons, getting to the ALCS in 2007.
  • Six full with the Cards followed two full with the Browns for Branch Rickey.
  • Jim Tracy got to the playoffs twice. He was given five full with the Dodgers, two with the Pirates, and three full with the Rockies.
  • Jeff Torborg went from one mediocre team to another, managing only the White Sox (3) for two full seasons.
  • Like Torborg, Birdie Tebbets bounced around, skippering the Redlegs for four full, never finishing higher than third. He led three other teams, none for two full seasons.
  • After running the Orioles for three full, Johnny Oates was given the Texas job. In six full seasons there, he got to the playoffs three times but only won one total game.
  • Short stints with the Blues and Senators surrounded eight full years with the lowly Browns for Jimmy McAleer. Perhaps it was a second place finish in his first year that gave McAleer seven more campaigns to only once finish as high as fourth.
  • Lee Fohl jumped around with three full for the Indians and Red Sox going with two full for the Browns.
  • Dave Bristol never got more than three full years with any of his four teams.
  • The best Jimy Williams did was four full in Boston, finishing second three times. He also had three in Toronto and two in Houston.
  • With three of his clubs, Jim Riggleman only got to two full years once. With the Cubs, he managed five seasons, finishing 2-6 once each.
  • Paul Richards got through six full in Baltimore and just three and one in his two stints with the White Sox.

So at the half-way point, let’s sum up. Only Eric Wedge, Branch Rickey, Johnny Oates, Jimmy McAleer, and Paul Richards managed six full seasons with losers. Let’s see what our second half brings.

  • Bob Melvin is still at it. He’s finished first three times and made the playoffs four times. Maybe that relative success is why he had five full in Arizona and will start his fifth full season in Oakland in 2016.
  • With four clubs, Don Zimmer couldn’t ever manage a fourth full year. Collapses or relative collapses mar his time with the Red Sox and Cubs.
  • Someone saw something in Bill Virdon. They must have since he was employed every year from 1972-1984. Of his four stops, only the Astros, with six, give him two full years.
  • Buck Rodgers was sort of an Angel for two full years, sort of a Brewer for three, and definitely an Expo for six, finishing third or fourth every year.
  • Ron Gardenhire will set a record for futility, managing the Twins to zero World Series in thirteen years. He won the AL Central in his first three tries, then again in his fifth, eighth, and ninth. After finishing fourth or fifth the next four seasons, he was done.
  • The Mets gave Art How two years. The Astros gave him five, and the A’s gave him seven. He was done after 2002, after losing 3-2 in the ALDS for three straight years.
  • The Expos gave Felipe Alou eight seasons to win nothing. Of course, they were right in line to win in 1994 before the season ended. The Giants gave him four seasons, including an NLDS loss in his first campaign.
  • Frank Robinson got teams that were down. Five years with the Expos/Nationals, four with the Giants, and two full with the Indians and Orioles. It’s no surprise he didn’t last given his clubs’ talent.
  • Buck Schowalter has actually lasted decently everywhere he’s been. Arizona gave him three, and both the Yankees and Rangers gave him four. Though he hasn’t won anything yet, save six playoff games in thirteen tries, next year will be his sixth full in Baltimore.
  • Bill Rigney got five years in his first tour and one in his second with the Giants. He also got two full seasons in Minnesota. But it was as an Angel that he lasted the longest—eight full seasons despite finishing better than fifth place just once.
  • Jimmy Dykes’ final five managerial stints were all pretty short. But his first one, with the White Sox, lasted for eleven full despite never finishing in the top-two.
  • Gene Mauch is the game’s most cherished loser. Put aside his time with the Twins and Angels. Mauch ran the Phillies for seven full, despite topping fourth place just once. In the first full season after he lost that job, he let the Expos for seven campaigns, never reaching .500 or finishing in the top-three.

So overall, we add Bill Virdon, Buck Rogers, Ron Gardenhire, Art Howe, Felipe Alou, Bill Rigney, and Gene Mauch (twice) to our five others who managed the same team for six straight years and never got to a World Series with that team or any other.

Twelve of the 24 overall managed since 2001. Perhaps the expanded playoff format keeps upper management from making changes if skippers get close to the playoffs? All but five managed since moving to the divisional format. It’s possible that ownership has gotten more patient as the game has matured.

I Don’t Know

Well, I do know it’s impressive for Connie Mack to have won a World Series in his 30th year with the A’s. But since he was ownership and wasn’t getting fired, it’s less impressive. And it’s impressive that the Giants let John McGraw to go 15 seasons between titles, but it didn’t hurt that he made it to the World Series four times in that span. And the three straight trips from 1911-1913 probably gave him extra rope. What’s left to be determined is if Tommy LaSorda’s feat of winning in seasons five and twelve is impressive or not. Was he a function of patient Dodger ownership or an ability to motivate with some consistency? I guess that’s what we have SVEUM for.

I wanted more from this post, but one shouldn’t expect a lot from something entitled “Meandering Managerial Motivation Musings”. Right?




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