Before Bobby Valentine and the Red Sox, Managers Who Lost Their Clubhouses
When Tuesday night's 18-3 debacle followed closely on the heels of Monday's Bard-abusing loss and Sunday's inexplicable criticism of Kevin Youkilis, it was unsurprising that Wednesday would bring calls for Bobby Valentine's head on a platter.
You can certainly make an argument that the process that brought his 10-years-out-of-date skipper to Boston was flawed, but fan rebellions come and go—all it takes to assuage the masses is a winning streak and a good move or two.
What will be more crucial in determining Valentine's fate is, if by his decisions and his comments, he has alienated his clubhouse; the hearts and minds of your players are much harder to recapture than those of the fans.
Here are an unlucky seven skippers who might have known when to bunt or hit and run, but couldn't make the right calls when it came to human beings.
Ossie Vitt and the Cleveland Indians, 1940
Ossie Vitt in a typical mood. (Wikipedia)
Vitt, a former third baseman with the Tigers and Red Sox, had established his managerial reputation in the competitive Pacific Coast League and then as the skipper of the historic 1937 Newark Bears—a Yankees farm team that went 109-43.
This did not earn him friends in the clubhouse, nor did his constant comments to the press and on the bench during games. Players finally went to the front office and complained; when word got out, the players were labeled "Crybabies."
That didn't save Vitt, who was let go after the season and never managed in the majors again.
Leo Durocher and the Brooklyn Dodgers, 1943
Leo Durocher (Wikipedia)
When Durocher harshly criticized pitcher Bobo Newsom in 1943, it initiated a player rebellion in which the club was on the verge of going on strike.
The next day, the Dodgers came near to forfeiting a game. "If nine of you fellows want to play, we'll play," Durocher told his team.
They did, but one important piece, future Hall of Fame shortstop Arky Vaughan, never got over the incident and went home for three years before rejoining the team in 1947.
Durocher held onto his job and would eventually go to the Hall of Fame as well, but this was one of many incidents that delayed his induction until 19940—three years after his death.
Johnny Keane and the New York Yankees, 1965
Johnny Keane (via 1965topps.blogspot.com)
The Yankees were a veteran team, so veteran they were about to break down after literally decades of dominance.
After Casey Stengel, less and less a player's manager as time went on, Ralph Houk, who was one, and a year of Yogi Berra, who was just... Yogi, Keane came on strong as a disciplinarian.
Said Jim Bouton in Dynasty, "He was absolutely the wrong guy. The players hadn't respected Yogi, but at least they liked him. Keane they didn't like or respect. Johnny was too old for us and too much of a traditionalist, and he never could get used to our outrageous habits and lifestyle...Keane began to turn and become angry, and where before they were only complaining once in awhile about Yogi, they were complaining every single day to Houk," now the general manager. "John was also a very religious man, and our behavior was upsetting his moral values."
After a season and change, Houk was forced to come down from the front office and take over the team. Keane would die of a heart attack not long after.
Vern Rapp and the St. Louis Cardinals, 1977
Vern Rapp (via i70baseball.com)
Rapp never played in the majors but spent 18 years managing in the minors. By the time he finally got the call to manage a big-league club, the 1977 St. Louis Cardinals, his mindset was firmly in a minors' mode, with an emphasis on discipline.
He had some difficult personalities, like Keith Hernandez, Garry Templeton and Al Hrabosky, whose trademark moustache Rapp ordered shaved. It would take the gravitas of Whitey Herzog, who arrived in 1980, to master the roster.
Rapp was let go 17 games into the 1978 season. A later stint with the Cincinnati Reds was no more successful, and he was replaced by player-manager Pete Rose.
Don Zimmer and the Boston Red Sox, 1978
Don Zimmer (via the great Cardboard Gods)
Zimmer had been Boston's third-base coach for two-plus seasons when he took the team over midway through the 1976 season. The veteran baseball man (even 36 years ago, Zimmer was already a "veteran baseball man."
He never connected with his players, particularly the pitchers, and Bill Lee became the center of a club within the club dedicated to mocking the manager. When Zim rode his roster into the ground during the 1978 season and the club lost the infamous Bucky Dent playoff game to the Yankees, it looked as if they had a point.
Zimmer remained in Boston until the end of the 1980 season, but he was really a lame duck from '78 on.
Tom Runnells and the Montreal Expos, 1992
Tom Runnells (via montrealexposcards.wordpress.com)
How not to succeed as a major league manager:
1. Follow a popular skipper in Buck Rogers.
2. Make unpopular moves like telling your veteran, Gold Glove-winning third baseman Tim Wallach that he has to play first base.
3. Bring your club in last for the first time in 15 years.
4. Open the following spring training by addressing your club in combat fatigues in a misguided attempt to either mock your own image as a disciplinarian or evoke the concept of elite military cohesion.
Either way, you will look like a little boy playing dress-up and will lose all credibility.
Tim Johnson and the Toronto Blue Jays, 1998
Tim Johnson, civilian.
Johnson actually had success as the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, bringing the 1998 team in with 88 wins, to this date their most since the championship season of 1993.
Unfortunately, he had a habit of exaggerating his Vietnam-era military experiences, telling stories of combat that had never happened.
When the truth came out during spring training in 1999, his tenure with the club came to an immediate end.