15 June 2010

Most managers in a single season for baseball: Part I - AL

With Juan Samuel reaching his 10th game and managerial veterans like Bobby Valentine and Eric Wedge casting their shadow over Camden Yards, the Orioles might do something that has been done fewer times in Major League Baseball than perfect games pitched. In fact, it is something the franchise has done before, but as the St. Louis Browns. This feat? To have at least three managers rack up 10 decisions or more in a single season.

Today is the first part of a two part series looking at the oddity of single seasons with multi-manager teams. Some of these events were caused by illnesses, extended interim managers, unique ideas, or an impatient front office.

After the jump, we will start of with the Baltimore Orioles history . . .

Baltimore Orioles (as the St. Louis Browns)

Fielder Jones (22-24)
Jimmy Austin (7-9)
Jimmy Burke (29-31)

Fielder Jones came into the season as a mid-level baseball legend. He was a star centerfielder during his playing days (also having the distinction for turning the first unassisted double play by an outfielder in the AL) and was known for his defensive strategy. Jones is credited for having to invented the wheel play strategy for bunting and, allegedly, the outfield shift. His playing career turned into a rather successful stint with the Chicago White Sox, whom he led to a 1906 World Series Championship. Jones was known as stubborn and a taskmaster. Eventually he wore out his welcome with the owner and with the players in 1908. He moved out to the West Coast and coached the Oregon State Beavers baseball team, but was lured back to the Majors by the St. Louis Browns organization. The team slowly faded in the standings over the years until Jones was fired mid-season with a 22-24 record.

Jimmy Austin (avoiding Ty Cobb's spikes in the picture on the right) then took over on a temporary basis. He played third base for the Browns. He had done something similar back in 1913 after George Stovall, another player-manager, was suspended indefinitely for spitting on an umpire. After Branch Rickey was hired as the manager, Austin proceeded to manage on Sundays as Rickey promised his mother to never enter the ballpark on the Sabbath. After Jones was abruptly fired, Austin was appointed as the interim manager and the team continued its one game under .500 performance going 7-9. Austin never became a non-interim manager, he stayed on with the Browns after he retired in 1921 as a coach until 1941. Jimmy Burke completed this interesting trifecta where each manager was one win short of .500. Burke kept his job for another two seasons in the town where he was so well known for playing with the cross town rivals, the Cardinals. Burke was never able to get his team higher than 4th or within 20 games of first.

Chicago White Sox

Eddie Stanky (34-45)
Les Moss (12-24)
Al Lopez (21-26)

1968 was a pretty tumultuous year in Chicago. The entire city seemed a mess from the Democratic convention to the city's second baseball team, the White Sox. Eddie Stanky started the season horrible, going 34-45. His behavior was supposedly getting more and more tiresome, and he was questioning the front office. The White Sox termined him and had Les Moss fill in for two games in which he lost them both. The team then hired Al Lopez (in the picture to the right), whom was replaced after the 1965 season by the aforementioned Eddie Stanky. After a drastically improved 11 game run of 6-5, Lopez suffered from severe pain in his abdomen. He had to be rushed to the hospital for an appendectomy. This caused the White Sox to turn the team back to Moss and the team went 12-22 under his stead. Recuperated enough from his surgery, Lopez returned for the final 36 games and notched 15 wins. He would proceed to manage the White Sox for the first 17 games the following season, going 8 and 9, and then immediately retired.

Kansas City Royals

The Royals did it twice.

Tony Muser (8-15)
John Mizerock (5-8)
Tony Peña (49-77)

Tony Muser took over managing duties from Bob Boone midway through 1997. The team was expected, under the right leadership, to reach new heights with a solid core of Mike Sweeny, Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye, Carlos Beltran, and Joe Randa. They also had a promising middle infield of Carlos Febles and Rey Sanchez. That never happened. Muser's Royals lost and lost often. His best placement was 16.5 games out of first place in the AL Central. In 2001, his team lost 97 games and after a 8-15 start, Muser was replaced by interim manager John Mizerock. Mizerock was best known for being the 1999 MiL Manager of the Year. He has never seemed to be considered Major League manager material. I do not know why. He was shuffled over to the third base coach when the Royals hired Tony Peña to his first and, so far, only managerial gig. Peña would do no better than the other two managers in 2002, but his team would be playing meaningful baseball in September the following summer.

Tony Peña (8-25)
Bob Schaefer (5-12)
Buddy Bell (43-69)

Peña never really got his team to be consistent winners and by the time 2005 rolled around, a slow start allowed Allan Baird to pull the trigger on him. Bob Schaefer then took over. Orioles' fans may remember Schaefer as one of Thrift's men from 1998-2001. He helped out with player development and talent acquisition. Anyway, Schaefer is a baseball lifer (MiL Manager of the Year in 1980 and 1981) and was considered a caretaker for the Royals until they could find a long term solution. Buddy Bell took the reigns over from Schaefer and the Royals continued as a 5th place team. He retired after the 2007 season due to health reasons.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (as California Angels)

Marcel Lachemann (52-59)
John McNamara (10-18)
Joe Maddon (8-14)

Lachemann made a name for himself as a pitching guru. He rose up to replace Buck Rodgers in 1994. His early success quickly dissipated and a somewhat talented Angels team was considered listless and in need of a shake up. John McNamara was given the reigns and the team floundered. He was relieved of his duties and Angels lifer (now Tampa Bay Rays current manager) Joe Maddon took over duties and limped the season to an end. Maddon did not keep the job and was replaced by Terry Collins, who he would replace in 1999. Again, that off season, the Angels went in a different direction and have had Mike Scioscia in the job since.

New York Yankees

Joe McCarthy (22-13)
Bill Dickey (57-48)
Johnny Neun (8-6)

McCarthy is one of the most heralded Yankees' managers and brought New York seven championships. He has the most wins by any Yankee manager and the highest winning percentage of any manager. After a tough year in 1945, Larry MacPhail (picture to the right), Andy MacPhail's grandfather, was brought in fresh from his tenure in the Army to bring the Yankees back to their winning ways. McCarthy did not like MacPhail sticking his nose in the clubhouse and quit in protest after only 35 games. Long standing Yankee Bill Dickey replaced McCarthy, but quit as well under the pressure that MacPhail was delivering. Finally, a MacPhail man, Johnny Neun, took the team home for the final 14 games and gliding them into a 3rd place finish. Larry MacPhail lasted one more season in New York. The Yanks won the World Series that season, but MacPhail's position was terminated and his interest in the team was bought out after he allegedly initiated inappropriate confrontational behavior at the celebration parties.

Bob Lemon (6-8)
Gene Michael (44-42)
Clyde King (29-33)

George Steinbrenner's behavior during the 1980s earned him a sanction by Major League Baseball. The managerial go around was a prime example of that. Thirty-nine games into Bob Lemon's second tenure with the team, Steinbrenner had enough and made Gene Michael the new skipper. Steinbrenner became increasingly frustrated with the team and its poor pitching. In the first 100 games, five different pitching coaches were employed by the team. The fifth one, Clyde King took over the slot and would finish the season as skipper. Billy Martin would be hired the following season and, a couple years later, King would become GM for a short while.

Oakland Athletics

Jackie Moore (29-44)
Jeff Newman (2-8)
Tony LaRussa (45-34)

The A's were growing unsatisfied with Jackie Moore's handling of the team. What was considered a rather talented squad had been scuffling under consecutive seasons led by Moore. In order to shake things up, they let him go and promoted Jeff Newman to interim manager. O's fans may recognize the name as Newman served as the Orioles bench coach in 2000. After 10 games, the Athletics found their new man, Tony LaRussa. LaRussa had been fired three weeks earlier by the Chicago White Sox. The team found new life and finish 3rd. LaRussa would wind up leading the Athletics to four 1st place finishes over the next six seasons.

Teams never to have met the criteria:
Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays

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