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Will Ryne Sandberg be exception to rule for Hall of Famers in dugout?

Will Ryne Sandberg be exception to rule for Hall of Famers in dugout?

by Phil Watson | Posted on Wednesday, September 18th, 2013
| 1336 baseball fanatics read this article

 

Ryne Sandberg waves to the crowd.

Ryne Sandberg may be the exception not the norm when it comes to Hall of Famers who manage. (Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

The last time a Hall of Fame player was in the dugout as a manager was in 2006, when Frank Robinson led the Washington Nationals.

That is until Aug. 16, when the Philadelphia Phillies gave Ryne Sandberg an opportunity to audition for the job on a fulltime basis.

But generally, the guys who are managers — especially today — were not considered to be great players.

Of the other 29 managers currently in the majors, seven were All-Stars (Don Mattingly six times, Davey Johnson four, Dusty Baker two, Mike Scioscia two, Robin Ventura two, Joe Girardi and Walt Weiss). Kirk Gibson, now manager of the Arizona Diamonbacks, was the Most Valuable Player of the National League in 1988, but was never an All-Star, and Weiss was American League Rookie of the Year, coincidentally also in 1988.

Five current managers never made it to the big leagues as players — Terry Collins played 10 minor-league seasons, Jim Leyland and Buck Showalter seven each, Fredi Gonzalez six and Joe Maddon four.

The big-league playing records of the guys who currently manage runs the gamut from guys who were pretty good to guys who were barely fringe players. Their stats are below, in order of games played.

NAME YEARS AVG G AB H HR RBI
Robin Ventura 1989-04 .267/.362/.444 2079 7064 1885 294 1182
Dusty Baker 1968-86 .278/.347/.432 2039 7117 1981 242 1013
Don Mattingly 1982-95 .307/.358/.471 1785 7003 2153 222 1099
Kirk Gibson 1979-95 .268/.352/.463 1635 5798 1553 255 870
Walt Weiss 1987-00 .258/.351/.326 1495 4686 1207 25 386
Mike Scioscia 1980-92 .259/.344/.356 1441 4373 1131 68 446
Davey Johnson 1965-75
1977-78
.261/.340/.404 1435 4797 1252 136 609
Mike Matheny 1994-06 .239/.293/.344 1305 3877 925 67 443
Joe Girardi 1989-03 .267/.315/.350 1277 4127 1100 36 422
Dale Sveum 1986-88
1990-94
1996-99
.236/.298/.378 862 2526 597 69 340
Mike Redmond 1998-10 .287/.342/.358 764 2264 649 13 243
Terry Francona 1981-90 .274/.300/.351 708 1731 474 16 143
Bob Melvin 1985-94 .233/.268/.337 692 1955 456 35 212
Ron Washington 1977
1981-89
.261/.292/.368 564 1586 414 20 146
Ron Roenicke 1981-88 .238/.353/.338 527 1076 256 17 113
Clint Hurdle 1977-83
1985-87
.259/.341/.403 515 1391 360 32 193
Bruce Bochy 1978-80
1982-87
.239/.298/.388 358 802 192 26 93
Ron Gardenhire 1981-85 .232/.277/.296 285 710 165 4 49
Ned Yost 1980-85 .212/.237/.329 219 605 128 16 64
Bo Porter 1999-01 .214/.284/.333 89 126 27 2 8
Eric Wedge 1991-94 .233/.340/.430 39 86 20 5 12
John Gibbons 1984,86 .220/.316/.360 18 50 11 1 2

San Diego Padres manager Bud Black and Boston Red Sox skipper John Farrell don’t appear on the list because they are the only former pitchers of the group.

Black pitched 15 seasons in the big leagues (1981-95) and was 121-116 with a 3.84 ERA and 1.267 WHIP in 398 career games and 2,053.1 innings. He made 296 starts.

Farrell had eight seasons (1987-90, 1993-96) and was 36-46 with a 4.56 ERA and 1.406 WHIP in 116 career games and 698.2 innings. He started 109 games.

So what does all of that have to do with Hall of Famers and their success as managers? Nothing, except to illustrate that — at least based on the game’s history — Sandberg has an uphill climb ahead of him.

Here are the records of Hall of Fame players as managers since World War II (records before World War II included where applicable):

NAME YEARS TEAMS W L Pct
Joe Cronin 1933-34
1935-47
Washington
Red Sox
1236 1055 .540
Lou Boudreau 1942-50
1952-54
1955-57
1960
Cleveland
Boston
Kansas City
Cubs
1162 1224 .487
Frankie Frisch 1933-38
1940-46
1949-51
Cardinals
Pittsburgh
Cubs
1138 1078 .514
Frank Robinson 1975-77
1981-84
1988-91
2002-06
Cleveland
San Francisco
Baltimore
MTL/WSH
1065 1176 .475
Red Schoendienst 1965-76
1980
1990
St. Louis
St. Louis
St. Louis
1041 955 .522
Rogers Hornsby 1925-26
1927
1928
1930-32
1933-37
1952
1952-53
Cardinals
Giants
Braves
Cubs
Browns
Browns
Cincinnati
701 812 .463
Yogi Berra 1964
1972-75
1984-85
Yankees
Mets
Yankees
484 444 .522
Mel Ott 1942-48 Giants 464 530 .467
Bob Lemon 1970-72
1977-78
1978-79
1981-82
Kansas City
White Sox
Yankees
Yankees
430 403 .516
Joe Gordon 1958-60
1960
1961
1969
Cleveland
Detroit
Kansas City
Kansas City
305 308 .498
Ted Williams 1969-72 WSH/Texas 273 364 .429
Billy Herman 1947
1964-66
Pittsburgh
Boston
189 274 .408
Ted Lyons 1946-48 White Sox 185 245 .430
Eddie Mathews 1972-74 Atlanta 149 161 .481
Tony Perez 1993
2001
Cincinnati
Florida
74 84 .468
Bill Dickey 1946 Yankees 57 48 .543
Larry Doby 1978 White Sox 37 50 .425
Luke Appling 1967 Kansas City 10 30 .250

Of that group, Schoendienst, Berra and Lemon were the only ones to win pennants strictly as managers; Cronin, Boudreau, Frisch and Hornsby all achieved their most success as managers when they were still active as players.

There is one factor that weighs in Sandberg’s favor, however.

Sandberg spent six years — at Class A Peoria in 2007-08, Double-A Tennessee in 2009, triple-A Iowa in 2010 and triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2011-12 — honing his craft in the minor leagues.

Of the managers on the list above, only Lemon, Gordon and Appling spent time managing in the minors before getting their first opportunity at the big-league level.

Lemon spent three years as a triple-A skipper (two in Seattle and one in Vancouver) before getting the Kansas City Royals job in 1970. Gordon had four years in a triple-A dugout (two in Sacramento and two more in San Francisco) before getting the Cleveland Indians gig in 1958, and Appling had seven years in the minors (four in two stints at Double-A Memphis, two at Triple-A Richmond and one at Triple-A Indianapolis) before getting his lone major-league opportunity with the lame-duck Kansas City Athletics in 1967.

Sandberg took two of his teams to the postseason as a minor-league manager and only finished below .500 once in his six seasons in the bushes.

He’s getting a 42-game audition with the Phillies, an aging team that has been riddled by injuries in 2013, but he’s 17-13 through the first 30 of those games. He’s keeping the Phillies competitive and playing hard down the stretch, even with nothing to play for but pride.

He paid his dues and he’s not being given the opportunity to manage simply because he was a great player who will sell some tickets. If any Hall of Fame player has a chance to work out well as a skipper, it’s Sandberg.

Post By Phil Watson (5 Posts)

I am a veteran of 20-plus years in the newspaper industry as a writer and editor, with my roots as a sports writer and later in my career transitioning to news. I also assisted with the development and maintenance of a newspaper website and also have experience in the advertising arena. I am currently a self-employed sports commentator with a syndicated radio show and blog.

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