Several months ago, I noticed a quote on Twitter that resonated with me in writing this particular article:
"Everybody deserves second chances, but not for the same mistakes."
Quite often in baseball, managers are given the seemingly impossible task of molding a 25-man roster into some semblance of order, and then eventually guiding it to bigger and better things, hopefully a championship at some point.
Some managers fared well right out of the gate, taking the opportunity presented to them and successfully positioning their team for success. Others may not have fared so well the first time around, but learned from their mistakes and used their previous experience for a chance at success down the road.
And still others quite frankly never should have been a second opportunity at all.
In either case, we'll take a look at a list of managers who were epic fails the first time they were asked to manage, and then were blessed with a second chance. Blessed, of course, being the operative word.
In 1970, Frank Lucchesi was named the new manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, an unenviable task considering the Phillies had lost 99 games the previous season.
Lucchesi was unable to do much of anything with a hapless Phillies squad, posting a 166-233 record in two and a half seasons, fired midway through the 1972 season by general manager Paul Owens.
In 1975, while serving as the third base coach for the Texas Rangers, Lucchesi took over as manager after Billy Martin was fired. Lucchesi led the team to a 35-32 record the rest of the way, his first winning season as manager. However, in 1976, Lucchesi led a talented Rangers team that vastly underachieved, finishing 10 games under .500.
In late March of 1977, Lucchesi named Bump Wills as his starting second baseman a week prior to Opening Day. Incumbent second baseman Lenny Randle approached Lucchesi about the move, and after a heated exchange, Randle dropped Lucchesi with a punch.
Randle was charged with assault and later traded to the New York Mets, and Lucchesi himself was out of a job two months later after posting a pedestrian 31-31 record. Lucchesi blamed Randle as the reason for his firing.
Overall Managerial Record: 316-399, .442 winning percentage
Some guys are better off as coaches, and that may have been the case with former manager Preston Gomez.
When the San Diego Padres began play as a team in 1969, former Los Angeles Dodgers vice president Buzzie Bavassi, who was part-owner of the expansion Padres, called on Gomez to be his first manager. Gomez was the third base coach for the Dodgers from 1965-1968 and had never skippered at the big-league level.
Unfortunately, as is the case with many expansion teams, the Padres were pretty hapless during their early years; and 11 games into his fourth season, Gomez was fired after posting a .366 winning percentage.
Gomez was given another shot just two years later, this time with the Houston Astros. In Gomez's first season with Houston, he posted his only non-losing record, finishing at 81-81. However, the following season saw Gomez return to his losing ways, posting a 47-80 record before being dismissed and replaced by Bill Virdon.
Ever the glutton for punishment, Gomez tried his luck one last time, this time taking over the Chicago Cubs in 1980. As luck would have it, and in this case bad luck, Gomez again was unable to find the winning touch, as the Cubs lost 52 of their first 90 games and Gomez was dumped for the third and final time.
Three times may be the charm, but in Gomez's case, three times was two times too many.
Overall Managerial Record: 346-529, .395 winning percentage, five last place finishes in six years
Former manager Lee Elia may be well known for providing one of the most profanity-laced tirades at a press conference in MLB managerial history, but he also makes this list as well.
Elia took over as Cubs manager in 1982 and promptly guided the team to a lackluster 73-89 record. The following year, Elia was fired after a 54-69 start, letting his frustrations out in the attached video about three months prior to his dismissal.
Elia got his second chance with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1987, the team that Elia broke his managing teeth in with in the 1970s. Elia posted his only winning record that year, taking over mid-season and finishing one game over .500 (51-50). However, 1988 saw the Phillies revert to familiar form, finishing in last place in the National League East division. Elia was fired with 10 games left, posting a 60-92 record.
Buddy Bell may have been a great third baseman throughout his career, winning six Gold Glove awards in his 18-year stint in the majors, but as a manager? Um, not so much.
Bell got his first chance as skipper with the Detroit Tigers in 1996. The Tigers could hit a bit, but the pitching staff was the worst in baseball, finishing dead last in most major pitching categories. Bell took some heat for his handling of the staff, too, and the Tigers finished with 109 losses, the worst single-season record in franchise history.
The 1997 season saw marked improvement, with the Tigers finishing at 79-83; however, in 1998, regression was in order, as Bell was finally dismissed with the Tigers 32 games under .500.
Bell got another shot to show off his managerial skills with the Colorado Rockies in 2000, and the Rockies improved 10 games over the previous season, finishing with an 82-80 record, the only winning season on Bell's résumé. The Rockies tumbled the following season, finishing 73-89, and Bell was dumped just 22 games into the 2002 season after winning just six of 22 games.
Bell got his third chance to show that he could bumble, I mean manage, once again, this time with the Kansas City Royals in 2005, taking over two months into the season and promptly leading the team to the AL Central cellar. Bell then lost 193 games over the next two seasons, finally being dismissed following the 2007 season.
Overall Managerial Record: 519-724, .418 winning percentage, six last place finishes in eight-plus seasons
Former major league manager Jim Riggleman was thrust into the spotlight back in 1992, replacing embattled manager Greg Riddoch with just 12 games to play. Riggleman had been in the Padres' organization as a manager for several years, and was supposedly being groomed for the job.
However, upper management didn't make Riggleman's job very easy in his first full season in 1993, trading off stars Fred McGriff, Gary Sheffield and Bruce Hurst and losing catcher Benito Santiago to free agency. The Padres lost 101 games that year, and were 23 games under .500 the following year, before the strike mercifully put an end to the Padres', and Riggleman's, misery.
Riggleman was not retained by the Padres and was named manager of the Chicago Cubs when play finally resumed in 1995. Riggleman guided the Cubs to a third-place finish in the NL Central that season, and followed up with a 90-win season and a wild-card berth in 1998, losing to the Atlanta Braves in three straight games in the NLDS.
The 1999 season saw another year of misery for the Cubs, losing 95 games and costing Riggleman his job. He was back behind the bench for the final half of the 2008 season with the Seattle Mariners, taking over for the fired John McLaren on an interim basis, however, Riggleman wasn't retained after leading the Mariners to a 36-54 record the rest of the way.
Again, Riggleman was in the right spot at the right/wrong time, this time serving as bench coach for the Washington Nationals in 2009 when Manny Acta was let go. Riggleman once again filled in as interim manager. The interim tag was taken off by season's end, and Riggleman promptly lost 93 games the following season.
In 2011, Riggleman led the Nats to a 38-37 record. However, he was upset at upper management for not renewing his contract for another year, leaving him in lame-duck status for the remainder of the 2011 season, and resigned.
Overall Managerial Record: 662-824, .445 winning percentage, three winning seasons in 12 years
In a managerial career that spanned nine seasons, Rene Lachemann skippered three teams—none of them successfully.
Getting his first chance with the Seattle Mariners in 1981, Lachemann took over for Maury Wills just 24 games into the season, guiding the M's through the strike-shortened season to a last-place finish in the AL West. Lachemann improved somewhat in 1982, finishing just 10 games under .500; however, the following season Lachemann was let go after Seattles was once again in last place after 73 games.
Lachemann was immediately hired the following season, 1984, by the Milwaukee Brewers. Lachemann led the Brewers to a completely under-performing season, with 94 losses and a last-place finish in the AL East. Once again, Lachemann was gone.
The third time around wasn't the charm for Lachemann, as he skippered the expansion Florida Marlins for three-plus seasons, getting fired in July 1996.
Overall Managerial Record: 428-560, .433 winning percentage, no winning seasons, four last-place finishes in eight-plus seasons
Russ Nixon fashioned a very nice 12-year career as a catcher in the American League. However, the same cannot necessarily be said for his managerial career.
Nixon took over as manager of the Cincinnati Reds after John McNamara was fired, leading the Reds to a 24-43 record for the rest of the 1982 season. The following year didn't see much improvement, as Nixon led the Reds to a 74-88 record and last place finish in the NL West.
Five years later, Nixon took over another hapless team, taking the reins of the Atlanta Braves in 1988 after Chuck Tanner was dismissed. The Braves lost 106 games that year, and Nixon was retained despite the horrid display by his team. The 1989 season saw Nixon keep the Braves from losing 100 games, but just barely, finishing with a record of 63-97 and another last place finish.
In 1990, Nixon was dismissed after a 15-25 start. His successor? Bobby Cox.
Overall Managerial Record: 231-347, .400 winning percentage, five last place finishes in five years
Can you say, "sacrificial lamb"?
Finishing his career as a player with the New York Giants in 1933, Chuck Dressen immediately started his managerial career the next season, debuting as skipper of the Cincinnati Reds. He may have started just a wee bit early.
Dressen, who played for the Reds for most of his career, took over with two months left in the 1934 season. Dressen only managed a .431 winning percentage his first go-around, getting canned after a 51-78 start in 1937.
An older and wiser Dressen took over as manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951, and found success right away, guiding the Bums to a 97-60 record and a second place finish after losing a three-game playoff to the New York Giants. Dressen almost lost his job after the Dodgers' epic September allowed the Giants to tie for the NL pennant in the last days of the regular season. However, Dressen retained his job, and put it all together the next two seasons, winning the National League pennant in both 1952 and 1953. But the Dodgers lost to the New York Yankees in the World Series on both occasions.
Emboldened by his success, Dressen demanded a three-year contract following the 1953 season, but Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley was loathe to give anything except a one-year contract, and Dressen's career as Dodgers manager was over.
Dressen went on to manage the Washington Senators, Milwaukee Braves and Detroit Tigers, with limited success.
Overall Managerial Record: 1,008-973, .509 winning percentage, two NL pennants
Note: Dressen's refusal to sign a one-year deal with O'Malley and the Dodgers led to the rise of Walter Alston, who signed 23 consecutive one-year deals with O'Malley and is now in the Hall of Fame.
Ned Yost was named the manager of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2003, and for his first four seasons at the helm, Yost struggled, finishing with three losing seasons and one break-even season.
In 2007, the Brewers got off to a hot start, holding an 8.5 game lead over the Chicago Cubs in late June. However, the Brewers swooned in the second half, and Yost came under fire for questionable bullpen and lineup decisions. General Manager Doug Melvin nonetheless retained Yost for the 2008 season.
Once again, Yost led the Brewers to a hot start, but once again, Yost's managerial decisions were scrutinized as the Brewers squandered the lead in the NL Central and lost their large lead in the wild-card chase. Yost was fired with two weeks left, and interim manager Dale Sveum rallied the Brewers to barely make the playoffs as the wild-card.
Yost replaced Trey Hillman as manager of the Kansas City Royals in May 2010, and under his stewardship, the Royals have won just over 43 percent of their games. What happens if the Royals get hot next season? GM Dayton Moore had better find a suitable replacement just in case.
Overall Managerial Record: 583-665, .467 winning percentage
In two separate cases, Del Crandall was hired to change the fortunes of a team in midseason, and the results weren't exactly what was planned.
Crandall, a successful catcher in the majors for 16 seasons, took over as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers after Dave Bristol was fired in 1972. Crandall was unable to right the ship, guiding the Brewers to a 54-70 finish and last place in the AL East. Crandall managed to keep the Brewers out of the cellar for the next two seasons, but barely, compiling just 150 wins in 1973 and 1974. Crandall again saw misery in 1975, guiding the Brewers to a 67-94 record, with the Brewers not even waiting until the end of the season to fire him, canning him with one game remaining.
Crandall got his second chance eight years later in 1983 with the Seattle Mariners, again taking over midseason after the M's canned Rene Lachemann.
Once again, the managerial change did nothing to inspire the Mariners, who finished last in the AL West under Crandall's guidance. The following season, 1984, Crandall was fired with a month left to play after a dismal 59-76 record.
Overall Managerial Record: 364-469, .437 winning percentage, no winning seasons
At the end of the 1946 season, the owners of the Pittsburgh Pirates pulled off a trade with the Boston Braves, purchasing second baseman Billy Herman along with Elmer Singleton, Stan Wentzel and Whitey Wietelmann in exchange for Hank Camelli and Bob Elliott.
Herman was immediately named player of the Pirates, and promptly led the team to a seventh-place finish and a 61-92, resigning from the team before the final game of the season. The problem with the trade wasn't so much Herman—Eliot went on to become the National League MVP for the Braves that same season.
Herman bounced around as a minor league manager and major league coach, taking over as manager of the Boston Red Sox in 1965, 18 years after his questionable managerial debut.
Herman didn't fare much better in Boston, losing 100 games in '65 and only finishing in front of the hapless Kansas City Athletics in the American League. Herman fared a bit better in 1966, but with a 64-82 record, Herman was fired with 16 games left, replaced by Pete Runnels.
Ironically, the Red Sox would go on to win the AL pennant the following year under first-year manager Dick Williams.
Overall Managerial Record: 189-274, .408 winning percentage, no winning seasons
Jimmie Wilson was a fiery catcher who enjoyed an 18-year career, representing the National League in the very first All-Star Game in 1933. However, his fiery ways and attitude didn't help his cause as a manager.
Wilson took over as player/manager of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1934, and there was nothing that his attitude could do to change the losing ways of the Phillies. After three seventh-place finishes and two eighth-place (last) finishes, Wilson was done, fired with two games remaining in the 1938 season.
After helping to lead the Cincinnati Reds to the 1940 World Series championship in his final season as a player, the Cubs came calling, and Wilson was once again in charge—this time as a manager only.
It didn't matter that Wilson was now managing full-time, his record didn't get any better. Under Wilson's tutelage, he never finished higher than fifth place and was dismissed in 1945 after only ten games.
Overall Managerial Record: 493-735, .401 winning percentage, no winning seasons
The book has yet to be written on the managing career of Manny Acta, but based on the results of his first gig, it can't get much worse.
Acta took over as manager of the Washington Nationals in 2007, and after two and a half seasons, Acta's first managerial job was over. Acta compiled a .385 winning percentage during his time in the nation's capital, being replaced in July 2009 by Jim Riggleman.
In 2010, Acta took over as manager of the Cleveland Indians, finishing the season with a 69-93 record. The 2011 was a complete turnaround, as the Indians got off to a 30-15 start and remained in first place for 93 days. However, the cart fell off the wheels, as the Tribe stopped hitting, the bullpen imploded and the Indians limped to an 80-82 finish, 15 games behind the Detroit Tigers.
Acta's contract was extended through the 2013, and with a young crop of players in the mix, Acta's development skills will be put to the test.
Overall Managerial Record: 307-427, .418 winning percentage
For 18 seasons, Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Gil Hodges became of the most beloved players in franchise history, helping to lead the Bums to their first-ever World Series title in 1955, and again four years later after the team moved to Los Angeles.
Shortly after his playing career ended with the New York Mets in 1963, Hodges took over as manager of the Washington Senators after the firing of Mickey Vernon. Hodges cut his teeth as skipper of the Senators, and while the team never finished higher than sixth place, Hodges nonetheless improved the team slightly each year.
After leaving the Senators in 1967, Hodges got another chance, this time with the team that he retired from as a player, the New York Mets. Hodges guided the woeful Mets to a 73-89 in 1968, the best record yet in their seven-year existence.
The following season, Hodges and the Mets shocked the world by overtaking the Chicago Cubs in the NL East, winning the division with a 100-62 record, defeating the Atlanta Braves in three straight games to capture the franchise's first-ever NL pennant and then upsetting the heavily-favored Baltimore Orioles in five games to capture the World Series.
Many historians point to the experience gained by Hodges during his time in Washington, as Hodges masterfully used his bench and bullpen throughout that magical 1969 season.
Overall Managerial Record: 660-753, .467 winning percentage, one World Series title
In his 13th and final season as a player, Billy Southworth took over the reins as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, and the result was an unmitigated disaster.
Southworth decided that, as a player himself, it was important for him to exert his authority over his fellow players, and he instituted strict rules, including banning players from driving their own cars. After a near-mutiny, Southworth was replaced midway through the season.
Following his retirement as a player, Southworth went through a variety of personal struggles, and eventually made his way to the minor leagues as a manager, and in 1940, the Cardinals called upon Southworth once again to skipper the major league club.
The 11-year break worked wonders—Southworth led the Cardinals to three consecutive National League pennants and two World Series titles between 1942-1944.
Southworth left the Cardinals following the 1945 season and took over the managing duties for the Boston Braves, again finding success. Southworth led the Braves to the 1948 pennant, losing to the Cleveland Indians in six games in the World Series.
Overall Managerial Record: 1,044-704, .597 winning percentage, four NL pennants, two World Series titles, elected to the Hall of Fame in 2008
With several managers on this list, we saw that the third time often wasn't the charm. However, in the case of former manager Fred Haney, the third time around finally brought success.
Haney took over as manager of the St. Louis Browns in 1939. The Browns had always been the perennial doormats of the American League, rarely finishing anywhere near the top of the standings and never winning a pennant in their history.
That didn't change with Haney, unfortunately. Under his tutelage, the Browns continued their losing ways, and Haney was done after just two-plus seasons and a .355 winning percentage.
The Pittsburgh Pirates gave Haney another chance in 1953, however, the results were eerily similar—Haney lasted just three seasons in the Steel City, finishing with an even lower .353 winning percentage.
However, one other team came calling for Haney's services, despite his dismal record. This time, the Milwaukee Braves came calling, and Haney answered the call, guiding the Braves to his first-ever winning record in 1956, finishing the season in second place with a 68-40 record.
Haney's next two years in Milwaukee was what he had been waiting for his entire career. The Braves won it all in 1957, defeating the New York Yankees in a thrilling seven-game series for the World Series title, the first for the franchise since 1914. Haney almost repeated the following year, winning the NL pennant but losing the World Series to the Yankees in another thrilling seven-game matchup.
Overall Managerial Record: 629-757, .454 winning percentage, two NL pennants, one World Series title
In 2003, after the Boston Red Sox lost the ALCS to the New York Yankees, a series in which Red Sox manager Grady Little was called out for his handling of star pitcher Pedro Martinez in Game 7, general manager Theo Epstein fired Little and replaced him with former Philadelphia Phillies manager Terry Francona.
Francona had guided the Phillies from 1997-2000, finishing in last place twice and achieving just a .440 winning percentage.
However, in Boston, the players responded to Francona's style, capturing the wild-card slot in the playoffs and rallying from a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS to defeat the Yankees in seven games, becoming the first team in baseball history to win a postseason series after dropping the first three games. The World Series was almost anticlimactic, as the red-hot Red Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals, capturing their first World Series title in 86 years.
Francona repeated the feat in 2007, this time defeating the Colorado Rockies in four straight for the franchise's second World Series title in four seasons.
Overall Managerial Record: 1,029-915, .529, two AL pennants, two World Series titles
When Bobby Cox finally retired as manager of the Atlanta Braves in 2010, he retired with the fourth-most wins in MLB history, trailing only Tony LaRussa, John McGraw and Connie Mack. However, his career did not start out swimmingly.
Cox originally became manager of the Braves in 1978, and through four seasons compiled only a .451 winning percentage, including two last-place finishes. After owner Ted Turner fired Cox, reporters asked him at the time who might be replacing Cox. Turner replied, "It would be Bobby Cox, if I hadn't just fired him. We need someone like him around here."
After a successful stint managing the Toronto Blue Jays, Cox indeed was the man re-hired by the Braves in 1990. The result this time around? Five pennants, one World Series title and 14 NL East Division titles in 15 seasons.
Overall Managerial Record: 2,504-2,001, .556 winning percentage, five NL pennants, one World Series title
Much like his fellow manager on this list, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre endured his struggles early in his managerial career but turned that into one of the most successful stints in Major League Baseball history.
Torre became the manager of the New York Mets in 1977, and the for the next five seasons, Torre stumbled through a miserable existence, finishing in last place in the NL East three times and second-to-last twice, finally and mercifully being dismissed following the 1981 season.
Torre did find success the following season with the Atlanta Braves, capturing the NL West Division title with an 89-73 record but losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. After a second- and third-place finish the following two seasons, Torre's time in Atlanta was over.
Six years later, in 1990, Torre got his third chance, this time with the St. Louis Cardinals. Torre finished with a .498 winning percentage in parts of six seasons with the Cards, being dismissed 47 games into the 1995 season.
The New York Yankees came calling next and, in 1996, Torre took over the reins of the Yankees, promptly leading them to four World Series titles in the next five seasons, with two more near-misses for the title in 2001 and 2003.
Even after Torre ended his remarkable run in New York, he added two more playoff appearances to his résumé for good measure, this time with the Los Angeles Dodgers, leading them to back-to-back NLCS appearances in 2008 and 2009.
Overall Managerial Record: 2,326-1,997, .538 winning percentage, six AL pennants, four World Series titles
Easily one of the most entertaining baseball personalities of all time, Casey Stengel first cut his teeth as a manager back in 1934, and the results weren't pretty.
Stengel took over as skipper of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1934, and in three years there compiled a record of 208-251, having the door shown to him at the end of the 1936 season.
Stengel tried his hand at managing again in 1938, this time with the Boston Braves. Stengel finally put together a winning season in his first year with the Bees/Braves, finishing two games over .500. However, the next four seasons saw the Braves finish second to last in the National League, and after a sixth-place finish in 1943, Stengel's time in Boston was over.
Commenting on his first two managerial stints in 1958, Stengel said, "I became a major league manager in several cities and was discharged. We call it discharged because there is no question I had to leave."
Six years later, Stengel tried his hand with the American League, with the New York Yankees. Over the next 12 seasons, Stengel led the Yankees to 10 American League pennants and seven World Series titles—one of the most dominating runs of any manager in MLB history.
Overall Managerial Record: 1,905-1,842, .508 winning percentage, 10 AL pennants, seven World Series titles, elected to the Hall of Fame in 1966.
Reference: Einstein, Charles (1968). The Third Fireside Book of Baseball
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle. Follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.