I remember feeling tense when we neared the end of the player’s wing of the Hall of Miller and Eric. Eric and I debated the relative merits of lots of players, debates that sometimes became a little heated. The last few players on whom we agreed represented compromises on both of our parts. Would we over-fill a particular position or a particular era? Would we add a couple of extra pitchers or a couple of extra hitters? And how could we justify inducting some flawed candidates like Jose Cruz, Chuck Finley, Sal Bando, and Tony Phillips who receive very little support even in the SABR-friendly corners of the Internet? Yeah, it was tense.
I was naïve to think inducting managers would be any different. Our initial eleven were pretty easy, just like our first 110 or so players. As Frank Selee, Al Lopez, Bill McKechnie got in too, I was reminded that those guys were really only as hard to include as Juan Marichal, Ernie Banks, and Paul Molitor. In other words, those calls weren’t so hard either. And frankly, up until this point, getting 20 of 22 managers into the HoME, we haven’t had much trouble. For pitchers, that’s the level I have for Kevin Appier, Sandy Koufax, and Bucky Walters. For hitters, it’s Max Carey, Reggie Smith, and Billy Herman. The fact that managers seemed easy enough for a while made me think I was right. Managers would be easier.
Not so fast. This is where it’s supposed to get tough. The picture above indicates that we’ve made a choice this week. But it wasn’t easy. It’s incredibly close right now. And that’s why we have no obituaries to share today. Narrowing has become arduous.
Let’s look at our first 21, and then we’ll look to see who we’re still considering for our final spot.
Walter Alston Whitey Herzog Bill McKechnie Sparky Anderson Miller Huggins Frank Selee Cap Anson Tony La Russa Billy Southworth Fred Clarke Al Lopez Casey Stengel Bobby Cox Connie Mack Joe Torre Leo Durocher Joe McCarthy Earl Weaver Ned Hanlon John McGraw Dick Williams
And for the final spot:
G> WS Flags Yrs From W L % .500 Won Won Teams =================================================================================== Frank Chance 11 1905-1923 946 648 .593 298 2 4 3 Tommy Lasorda 21 1976-1996 1599 1439 .526 160 2 4 1 Billy Martin 16 1969-1988 1253 1013 .553 240 1 2 5 Pat Moran 9 1915-1923 323 257 .557 66 1 2 2 Harry Wright 23 1871-1893 1225 885 .581 340 0 6 4
Hall of Miller and Eric
Whitey Herzog managed four teams, the Rangers, Angels, Royals, and Cardinals, running a team each year from 1973-1990. He did a wonderful job managing based on the talent he had. Or maybe he had the talent he did because of the way he liked to play? Whatever the case, Whiteyball probably began in 1976 even though the term wasn’t coined until six years later. Whitey’s 1976 Royals went to the ALCS for the first of three straight years with nobody hitting more than Amos Otis’ 18 homers and only one other hitting more than eight. But he did see seven guys steal at least 20 bases. He brought the same type of thought-process to St. Louis when he took over the Cardinals in 1981. While there, he won three NL Pennants and the 1982 World Series. That 1982 club was pure Whiteyball. Double figure homers from only two guys, and double figure steals from seven cemented Whitey’s legacy as a smart and scrappy skipper who did whatever he could to win. And win he did, 1281 games at a .532 rate over his 18 seasons.
One last guy. Will it be Chance, Lasorda, Martin, Moran, or Wright. Next week, all will be revealed.