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Your Top 20 Managers

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  • Your Top 20 Managers

    Here is my slate for Top 20 Managers.

    1. Connie Mack - Pirates (1894-96), Phil. A's ('01-50) BB's closest thing to a saintly person.

    2. John J. McGraw - Balt. (1899-1902), NY Giants (1902-32); From '03-31, 28 yrs., came in lower than 3rd only 5 times.

    3. Ned Hanlon - 1899-1907 - Pirates, Orioles, Dodgers, Reds - invented inside BB, spread it through McGraw, Jennings, Robinson, etc.

    4. Ty Cobb - Detroit - 1921-26 - brilliant mastermind, carried sub-par team on his hitting coaching, fiery leadership. Tactical/strategic genius. Ousted due to false scandal. Irreparable loss to the game.

    5. Billy Martin 1969, 1971-83, '85, '88 - traveling salesman, won wherever he went. Famed as Yank skipper, feuds with Steinbrenner.

    6. Casey Stengel - Brooklyn (1934-36), Braves (1938-43), Yankees (1949-60), Mets (1962-65) colorful, tactical wiz.

    7. Miller Huggins - Cardinals (1913-17), Yankees (1918-29), Tactical wiz, similar to Selee, Gleason, Stallings. Told Ruppert/Huston "Get me Ruth." Coped with Babe as best he could. Trained Gehrig to field well. After '25, told Ruppert, "team is fried", got new starting SS, 2B, C. Ruppert gave him best possible prospects.

    8. Whitey Herzog - KC (1975-79), Cardinals (1980-90). Everywhere he went, he won. Like B. Martin.

    9. Al Lopez - Cleveland (1951-56), White Sox (1957-65, '68-69). After long ML catching career, he broke up Stengel's 50's hegemony. Won pennants in '54 & '59. His Indians won 111 games in '54.

    10. Walt Alston - Dodgers (1954-76). Presided over exit from Ebbets Field on Flatbush Ave. Won 6 pennants and 1 Division. Came in top 3 10 times, and in Division battles, 7 top 3 finishes.

    11. Joe McCarthy - Cubs (1926-30), Yankees (1931-46), Red Sox ( 1948-50). The Joe Torre of the 30's. Top talent, merely had to do pitching staffs, pinch hitting options. Consistent winner, but with such top talent, hard to gauge his smarts. 9 pennants, 7 WS titles. But had Ruth, Gehrig, Dickey, Gomez, DiMag AND T. Williams.

    12. Leo Durocher - Dodgers (1939-48), Giants (1948-55), Cubs (1966-72), Astros (1972-73). Won pennants in '41, '51, '54. Suspended all of 1947 for saying BB had Mafia ties. Very sharp, natty dresser. Impeccable suits. Leo loved his silk & jewelry. Was like father to Willie Mays.

    13. Sparky Anderson - Reds (1970-78), Tigers (1980-95). Was winner with Big Red Machine. Good manager with good players = success.

    14. Dick Williams - (1967-69, '71-88), Red Sox, A's, Angels, Montreal, Padres, Mariners. Dick was a traveler. Made his name with A's and Montreal. Won a pennant and 4 Division titles.

    15. Joe Torre - Mets (1977-81), Braves (1982-84), Cardinals (1990-95), Yankees (1996-present). Covered some ground before arriving in Big Apple. Hard to better his record since. Resembles and behaves like Joe McCarthy. Has never been known to move a muscle during game. But his owner will buy him whatever he murmurs. It must be nice.

    16. Bobby Cox - Atlanta (1978-81, '90-present), Toronto (1981-85). Since 1991, all he's done is win.

    17. Tony Larussa - White Sox (1979-86), Oakland (1986-95), Cardinals (1996-present). Gained fame with Oakland. Won 4 Divisions in 5 yrs.

    18. Cap Anson - White Sox (1879-97). Came in top 2 11 out of 13 yrs. Slugging 1Bman helped his own cause. From 1892-98, could hardly reach 4th.

    19. Tommy LaSorda - Dodgers (1976-96). Won 9 Division titles & 5 seconds. And don't forget that Olympic WIN.

    20. Frank Chance - Cubs (1905-12), Highlanders (1913-14), Red Sox ('23).
    From '06-11 didn't finish lower than 2nd. Finished 1st 4 of 5 yrs.

    21. Fred Clarke - Louisville (1897-99), Pirates (1900-15). Won 4 pennants, between 1900-12, finished lower than 3rd only once.

    22. Earl Weaver - Baltimore (1968-82, '85-86). 6 Division titles. Between '68-82, finished lower than 3rd only twice, and in top 2 12 times.

    23. Frank Selee - Braves (1890-01), Reds (1902-05) - From 1891-99, finished lower than 3rd only twice.

    24. George Stallings - Braves (1913-20), Famed for '14 win.

    25. Kid Gleason - White Sox (1919-23). Went 1, 2 with the Black Sox in '19-20. Then 7, 5, 7 with the carcass of the White Sox. He was real brains behind White Sox win in '17. Rowlings was just for show.

    26. Danny Murtaugh - Pirates (1957-64, '67, '70-71, '73-76. Won 2 pennants and 2 Divisions. But also came in 4th or lower 7 times.

    27. Charlie Grimm - Cubs (1932-38, '44-49, '60), Braves (1952-56). After long 1B career, when with Cubs initially, ran off 2,3, 3, 1,2,2,3. Later with Braves ran off 2, 3, 2.

    28. Bill McKechnie - Pirates (1922-26), Cardinals (1928-29), Braves (1930-37), Reds (1938-46). Managed Federals in '15. Won pennants in '25, '28, '39, '40. Came in 4th or lower 14 times.

    29. Billy Southwood - Cardinals ('29, '40-45), Braves (1947-51) - From '41, went 2,1,1,2.

    30. Jimmy Dykes - White Sox (1934-46), traveling salesman after that. Came in 3rd or above 3 times in all his yrs.

    31. Bucky Harris - 1924-43, '47-48, '50-56. Major traveling salesman. Won 3 pennants. Spent 24 yrs. at 4th or lower.

    The above chart shows that some very knowledgeable BB men, respected by reputation, had some gosh-darn terrible records as managers, when they lacked the men to win. But when they had them, they showed their great managerial chops. To wit:

    1. Connie Mack - 1915-24, 1935-50.
    2. Casey Stengel - 1934-43, 1962-65
    3. Pretty much most of the managerial careers of Bucky Harris, Jimmy Dykes, Billy Southwood and Bill McKechnie prove the time-tested theory, that without the men, the manager is helpless. Ty Cobb is a partial, complicated proof of that, since he achieved only partial success.

    Bill Burgess
    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 07-17-2008, 05:05 PM.

  • #2
    Wow, I don't think I can go that far Bill, but I'll try and do top 10

    1. John McGraw
    2. Walt Alston
    3. Bill McKechnie
    4. Miller Huggins
    5. Casey Stengal
    6. Connie Mack
    7. Lou Pinella
    8. Pat Moran
    9. George Stallings
    10. Ned Hanlon

    I think these managers had strong teams AND weak teams so it's easier to judge how well they did with nothing to work with...


    • #3
      Bill, I don't know enough about early 20th C. managers to make my own list, but I got to say, any list that doesn't have Dick Williams on it, like yours, makes me wonder. The guy is a lot like Billy Martin and Leo Durocher, won wherever he went, including WS championships. He is easily as good as LaRussa, and to me at least he belongs in the top 20 if not 15.

      Did you forget about him, or did you have a reason for leaving him off?

      “Well, I like to say I’m completely focused, right? I mean, the game’s on the line. It’s not like I’m thinking about what does barbecue Pop Chips and Cholula taste like. Because I already know that answer — it tastes friggin’ awesome!"--Brian Wilson


      • #4
        1.Casey Stengel
        2.John McGraw
        3.Joe McCarthy
        4.Connie Mack
        5.Miller Huggins
        6.Billy Martin
        7.Earl Weaver
        8.Billy Southworth
        9.Dick Williams
        10.Al Lopez
        11.Bill McKechnie
        12.Tom Kelly
        13.Bucky Harris
        14.Walt Alston
        15.Leo Durocher
        16.Bobby Cox
        17.Sparky Anderson
        18.Joe Torre
        19.Tommy LaSorda
        20.Gene Mauch
        "Baseball is like church. Many attend. Few understand." - Leo Durocher -


        • #5
          --So much of a managers success is tied into the quality of his players I don't know that you can really pick one guy as the best or have a list you have a whole lot of conficdence in. There are, of course some managers who got more out of their teams than others and some who get much less.
          --I think all these guys were great managers who could usually get a team to half a dozen more wins than the average guy;
          --Harry Wright - the first great manager or at least first great team builder.
          --Ned Hanlan and Frank Sellee - great rivals of the 1890s.
          --John McGraw - I don't know that he could be successfull today with his style, but he won pretty consistenty for 20 years way back when.
          --Connie Mack - built two dynasties 20 years apart and won a couple other times.
          --George Stallings - never had the talent of some others, but won more than he should have.
          --Miller Huggins - founder of the Yankees legacy.
          --Joe McCarthy - won everywhere he went
          --Bill McKechnie - the prophet of defense.
          --Billy Southworth - very underrated.
          --Leo Durocher - probably overrated, but still very good.
          --Al Lopez - battled Stegal's Yankees for a decade with two different teams.
          --Casey Stengal - won more than any Yankee manager, although his teams don't look quite as good on paper.
          --Walt Alston - never got much credit, but always won.
          --Dick Williams - agree with KH14 that he has to be on any best manager list.
          --Earl Weaver - zero b.s.. All about winning baseball.
          --Billy Martin - quick results, but wore out his welcome fast too
          --Whitey Herzog - best manager in KC and StLouis history
          --Sparky Anderson - best in Cinci and Detriot history
          --Lou Pinella - won everywhere he went (well not TB ), a Seattle icon
          --Bobby Cox - his run with Braves as impressive (in reg season) as anything Stengal did, although the payoff hasn't been there
          --Tony LaRussa - never liked him myself, but the wins follow him around.
          --Joe Torre - has all the talent, but many couldn't keep them all focused on team goals.
          --That comes to 23, but I don't know who to cut to get down to 20. All of them had different strengths and some would be better for one type of team than another.


          • #6
            --Prof's list reminded me of a couple oversights on mine, Tommy Lasorda and Tom Kelly. I don't think either are really near the top, but both may be better than some of mine. They make an even 25 anyway.


            • #7
              Originally posted by leecemark
              --Prof's list reminded me of a couple oversights on mine, Tommy Lasorda and Tom Kelly. I don't think either are really near the top, but both may be better than some of mine. They make an even 25 anyway.
              The Twins were blessed with Kelly's talent and they wasted that talent for years. Kelly led the Twins to wins in two World Series in four years, but most of the time the Twins saddled him with inferior talent and the lowest payroll in the American League. He still produced a .478 W% with 2 WS Pennants and 3 second place finishes. I know while he was here people in MN respected him a great deal, I wonder what he might have accomplished with a team that had a better money situation and superior talent??
              "Baseball is like church. Many attend. Few understand." - Leo Durocher -


              • #8

                Yes, I was negligent in omitting Dick Williams, who did so well with Oakland/Montreal. Thanks for the head's up. Always welcome corrections.

                Bill Burgess
                Last edited by Bill Burgess; 01-02-2005, 01:23 PM.


                • #9
                  --Pretty good with Boston and SanDiego too.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by leecemark
                    --Pretty good with Boston and SanDiego too.
                    Dick Williams is somewhat forgotten, not sure why because we did very well in both leagues and handled players extremely well. He is Top 10 in my book.
                    "Baseball is like church. Many attend. Few understand." - Leo Durocher -


                    • #11
                      1. John McGraw
                      2. Connie Mack
                      3. Miller Huggins
                      4. Walter Alston
                      5. Ned Hanlon
                      6. Earl Weaver
                      7. Casey Stengel
                      8. Billy Martin
                      9. Leo Durocher
                      10. Al Lopez
                      11. Joe McCarthy
                      12. Tommy Lasorda
                      13. Joe Torre
                      14. Dick Williams
                      15. Frank Selee
                      16. Lou Boudreau
                      17. Tom Kelly
                      18. Joe Cronin
                      19. Billy Southworth
                      20. Sweet Lou
                      "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

                      Sean McAdam,


                      • #12

                        I rate Connie Mack as the Greatest Manager Ever. I rate McGraw as having the greatest record ever compiled. Contradiction? Not in BurgessLand.

                        1. Connie Mack - Pirates (1894-96), Phil. A's ('01-50) BB's closest thing to a saintly person.

                        2. John J. McGraw - Balt. (1899-1902), NY Giants (1902-32); From '03-31, 28 yrs., came in lower than 3rd only 5 times.

                        Explanation. From '03-31, 28 yrs., McGraw came in lower than 3rd only 5 times. That is a record I doubt can be broken. His strength came from having been a very good player. He was able to routinize his teaching of the different skills, such as fielding, sliding, throwing the ball in on one bounce, etc.

                        Since he played in a big market (NY), he seldom had financial problems. He was acknowledged as a master of the trading market. Not a winter would pass by, without him trying to strengthen his squads. He tried in vain since 1920 to buy Rogers Hornsby from Branch Rickey, who wouldn't sell him, even when offered $300K. McGraw also tried to get Cobb in Dec., 1926. But Landis told him, "Lay off, Cobb." Landis intended to restore TC to Detroit, to shove it up Ban Johnson's butt, who had sworn TC would never play in the AL again.

                        So the question might be, why would I put Mack over McGraw, if I think McGraw had the better record? Simple. They didn't have a level playing field. McGraw had advantages Mack didn't. And Mack couldn't level the conditions out.

                        McGraw, in NYC, had no "blue laws", prohibiting activities on Sundays. Mack did, and it caused, indirectly, Mack having to break up his teams in 1914, and 1933-35.

                        McGraw had fans who supported the Giants no matter what. Mack had fans who refused to come out to the games, and support their local team. And since Mack was legally prevented from playing games on Sundays, his attendance stunk. Even when he won pennants, he had attendance problems. I put in red, where he won the pennant.


                        So one can see from the above chart that Mr. Mack had a real problem getting his fan base to turn out and support their team. And in the days before TV money, fan attendance forms the foundation of a teams income.
                        It was bad enough to not be able to play on Sundays, but poor fan interest really killed the A's. Connie had good teams in all of the above yrs. except perhaps 1934. And he failed to come in the top 3 in attendance 7 times out of 20. This is the reason why he couldn't afford to pay his players well.

                        In 1914, the A's finished 1st, but placed only 5th in attendance. When his players wanted increases to match what the Federal L. was dangling in front of them, he couldn't match the Fed's offers. So Plank and Bender jumped to the Federals. And to keep the rest from doing the same, Connie sold his players off, before they could jump, and leave him with nothing. Something like selling your stock in a company before they go under or take a big hit, like Martha Stewart.

                        I believe that if Mack had no blue laws to cramp his attendance, he would not have felt compelled to break up his 2 great teams, and hence would have surpassed John McGraws great record. So that is how I justify placing Mack on top, while still feeling that McGraw had the most impressive record, on paper. Different conditions. At least that's how it looks to me.

                        Bill Burgess
                        Last edited by Bill Burgess; 01-02-2005, 12:15 PM.


                        • #13
                          You can't leave Frank Chance off the Top Ten list. Yeah, I know Bill James is madly in love with Selee and thinks that a pile of dirt could have won big with the team he left in Chicago, but we're all rational people here on BBF & we know it doesn't work that way. Having an excellent team does not gauarantee success - the manager's job is to get that team to win. (And we won't even get into the widespread myth that the Cubs infield was actually a bunch of bozos who don't belong within a lightyear of the HOF. We can thank BJ for that one too, just another weird contradiction from the World of Bill.)

                          Four seasons with over 100 wins with the Cubs; all but two seasons over the Pythagorean W/L for that team (and one of those was his rookie year as a manager); and at the end of his career, sick and managing a terrible BoSox team in '23, a 61-91 record with a team that should have (Pythagorean W/L again) finished 54-98.

                          Looks pretty good to me.


                          • #14
                            --For me a manager needs to be successfull with more than one team to be considered amoung the all time greats. He can accomplishe that either by changing teams or staying somewhere long enough that the team changes around him (such as McGraw, Mack, Alston, Weaver).
                            --Chance's Cubs were enormously successfull and he deserves some credit for that, but it was basically all the same team he won with. He never showed he could do it with another team or type of team. Maybe he could have, he was after all "the Peerless Leader, but he didn't.


                            • #15

                              "For me a manager needs to be successfull with more than one team to be considered amoung the all time greats."

                              This "theory" bears deeper reflection.

                              At what moment did getting along with your boss work against one's reputation? Those who were with one team a long time like Mack, McGraw, Alston, Anson, LaSorda, Fred Clarke, Earl Weaver, Danny Murtaugh are no less able, solely because they were able to find a way to either win with one team or get along with ownership.

                              On the contrary, the traveling salesmen, often either hit an impasse with one team or had their owner lose faith in them. Or, . . . were too brusque, like Hornsby. Under normal circumstances, a manager moving on, means something went wrong. Didn't win enough, or pissed off the wrong person.

                              Since when did good relations or good fortune become a negative? If polled, I'd think the travelers would have preferred a less nomadic BB career. And envied their more fortunate brethren. How often do managers quit and say, "I'm tired of this situation. I need to ramble a bit."?

                              It seems as if your "new theory" could use a tweaking, to make more sense.

                              Bill Burgess


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