Saturday, May 2, 2009

Muggsy, part two

To write about the career of John McGraw, both as a player and as a manager, is to write about an entire era. It's a huge story. If you want to read all the details, and I suggest you do, follow the links.
As a player he was known for his toughness. When he began, there was only one umpire per game. So when there was a chance when he knew the umpire had to be watching something else, he would assault any nearby opponent. Soon there were multiple umpires per game.
He always hit for a good average, playing in a lively-ball era, and he was able to draw a lot of walks, so his career OBP was .466, third best of all time, behind only Ted Williams and Babe Ruth.
He became player/manager of the Baltimore Orioles while he was still in his twenties. In 1902 he became a Giant. His playing career was essentially over, although he appeared in a few games now and then for a few more years.
He blew off the 1904 World Series. He thought the NY Highlanders (the Yankees' original name) were going to win the AL title and he had a major grudge against them and their owner, so he decide to not participate. (As it turned out, Boston ended up winning the AL pennant.)
Frank Deford described him thusly: he was "the model for the classic American coach--a male version of the whore with a heart of gold--a tough, flinty so-and-so who was field-smart, a man's man his players came to love despite themselves."
In thirty years managing the Giants he won 10 pennants and 3 World Series.
Topic for discussion: McGraw has been called the best player to become a great manager in major league history. Who are other candidates for that honor?


M.C. O'Connor said...

Joe Torre.

While his managerial record is enviable, he did manage the damn Yankees, who have been absolutely stocked with talent during his reign. People forget he was a "failure" as an NL manager (5 winning seasons in 15) before becoming a Yank (and then a LAtriner).

His playing record includes an MVP, and he was an All-Star catcher. He had a career 128 OPS+, and played in the NL Golden Age against guys like Mays, Aaron, McCovey, Morgan, and Schmidt.

JC Parsons said...

Frank Robinson

An even better playing record than Torre (my #2) but probably not as good a manager. Certainly less championships. But I go with him since nobody knows a manager's impact.

Bob said...

Maybe Billy Martin deserves honorable mention. He was a pretty good player who was arguably a great manager. A great story, anyway.

daveinexile said...

Frank Robinson as well.

Yes he managed some lower rung teams (to my mind he didn't have a talent advantage) but as a player he was soemthing special.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Frank Robinson gets my most-underrated-player-of-all-time award. His competition was Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, fer chrissakes! He wins an MVP at age 25, then jumps leagues at 30 and wins another! Awesome. Four seasons with an OPS over 1.000. He ranks among a handful of studs: the two above, Mantle, Schmidt. Elite company.