Some Good, Some Bad: Rating All-Time San Francisco Giants Managers
Bruce Bochy isn't the worst manager in San Francisco Giants history.
That designation is reserved for a man most modern day fans have never heard of, who was scouting for the club when a mid-season manager's change suddenly put him in control.
Where Bochy ranks among the best to manage the Giants in San Francisco is open for debate.
Here's a look at how the skippers who've called the shots at Seals Stadium, Candlestick Park and AT&T Park rank:
16. Tom Sheehan (1960)—He was a former big league pitcher who had last coached in 1944 when owner Horace Stoneham gave Sheehan the call to take over a club that was floundering. Sheehan had been a big league scout before returning to uniform and became the oldest man to make his big league managing debut at 66. The Giants stumbled home 46-50 and Sheehan was replaced before the 1961 season.
15. Jim Davenport (1985)—One of the great all-time Giants players, the former third baseman had spent his entire career with the organization when he was tabbed to run the club entering the 1985 season. Aside from using the word "certainly" a million different way, most incorrectly, during interviews—Davenport was a forgettable manager. The Giants were 56-88 late in '85 when he was fired.
But, Davy was certainly one of the most gifted defensive third basemen certainly in the, um, history of the Giants certainly...
14. Danny Ozark (1984)—The pennant-winning Philadelphia Phillies manager too over from Frank Robinson, piloted the club to a 24-32 mark. Bad as it seemed, the club might've wished it had stuck with Ozark. He was replaced by Davenport in the middle of one of lowest points in San Francisco Giants history.
13. Dave Bristol (1979-80)—This is a guy fans calling for Bochy to turn over the food table and raise hell in the dugout should wish could take over this year's club. Bristol had managed three other big league teams to limited success. He was, however, an old-school tough guy.
It's worth noting, for those who want Bochy to throw a fit to inspire the boys, that Bristol got into a fistfight with star pitcher John Montefusco and gave "The Count" a black eye. Bristol proceeded to go 85-98 with the Giants. So much for lashing out leading to victories.
12. Wes Westrum (1974-75)—Westrum was the starting catcher for the New York Giants 1951 NL champions and the 1954 world champions. He was only the second manager in the history of the New York Mets, replacing Casey Stengel in 1965 to run one of the worst teams in big league history. He returned to lead his old club that His 1975 team finished a stunning 80-81—wildly over-achieving with Montefusco becoming a surprise star and Bobby Murcer hating every minute he spent in San Francisco after being traded from the New York Yankees for Bobby Bonds.
11. Clyde King (1969-70)—The former big league pitcher was the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching coach when he landed what was a prime gig leading the Giants at the end of the Mays, McCovey, Marichal era. He went 90-72 in 1969. Then, ownership showed what panic will do by firing King after a 19-23 start and turning the club over to Charlie Fox, who proceeded to let the aging but gifted team get into gear and finish 67-53.
10. Bill Rigney (1958-60, 1976)—Led the original San Francisco Giants to third-place finishes in 1958 and 1959. (Those were great teams!) For reasons unknown he was fired in 1960 with a 33-25 mark. The reigns were handed to ...Sheehan. Yes, the worst manager in Giants history took over a team eight games over .500. Rigney was a baseball man to the core, did some broadcasting, told great stories and didn't know when to say "no." He returned to manage a horrendous group of Giants to a 74-88 mark, drawing 626,868 fans to Candlestick, in 1976.
9. Felipe Alou (2004-06)—His first two Giants teams were a combined 191-132. The first-round playoff loss to the Florida Marlins in 2004, along with the inability to get along with reliever Joe Nathan hurt Alou's legacy. Nathan was traded to the Twins in, arguably, the worst deal in modern club history. Alou's final two teams finished well under .500. He starred for the club from 1958-1963, but is sadly remembered by younger folks for sounding as though he was somehow managing to do the "Felipe Alou Show" half asleep before every game on KNBR.
8. Bruce Bochy (2007-present)—Fans will look back on Bochy's tenure and realize he got a lot out of very limited teams that had good pitching and little else.
7. Joe Altobelli (1977-79)—Altobelli waited a long time hoping to get the Baltimore Orioles job, but wound up being hired by the Giants. After going 77-85 in 1977, he led the club to a thrilling third-place finish in 1978. An offense led by 22-year-old Jack Clark, 40-year-old Willie McCovey and former NL batting champion Bill Madlock finished 89-73 after Vida Blue was dealt from the Oakland A's to go 18-11 and inspire more 1,700,000 fans who flocked to the 'Stick.
6. Alvin Dark (1961-1964)—He managed the Giants to the 1962 NL championship, after starring at shortstop for the 1950s New York Giants. Dark managed the Giants in their golden era—Mays, McCovey, Cepeda, Marichal, Gaylord Perry, the Alou brothers and a young Jim Ray Hart starred. His tenure went up in smoke because he insisted that the club's many Latin players not speak in their native tongue while in uniform. He also refused to rest Mays, who twice collapsed from exhaustion in the dugout.
5. Frank Robinson (1981-1984)—Anyone who follows Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow on Comcast Cable TV games knows that Robinson was a tough guy, a former superstar who became the first black manager in big league history. His 1982 Giants, a motley crew at best, finished 87-75 and provided an exciting summer. Robinson knew something. He won with a starting rotation that included Bill Laskey, Atlee Hammaker, Rich Gale, Fred Breining and Alan Fowlkes. Robby effectively used Greg Minton in the still evolving closer's role. "The Moon Man" earned 30 saves in '82.
4. Charlie Fox (1970-1974)—The Giants won the NL West in 1971—giving Mays, McCovey, Marichal and Perry the spotlight together one last time. The 1973 club also finished over .500. It wasn't the fault of Fox that his superstars got old together—or that somebody thought trading Gaylord Perry for erratic left-hander Sam McDowell made sense. While it was overlooked in the NL West title season of '71, Fox hung around long enough to suffer the decision to trade future MVP George Foster to Cincinnati for shortstop Frank Duffy and pitcher Vern Geishert.
3. Herman Franks (1965-68)—After answering a question I mailed to the "Herman Franks Show" in 1966, this skipper won a special place in Giants history. For the record, he explained that the Giants likely weren't really considering trading Mays for Mickey Mantle. Franks made Dark look foolish by leading the club to seasons of 95 wins, 93 wins, 91 wins and 88 wins respectively. He helped tear the hearts out of Giants fans everywhere when each team finished second—the first two seasons right on the heels of the rival Los Angeles Dodgers and the last two behind the St. Louis Cardinals.
Note: Franks had to try to beat a Cardinals team led by NL MVP Orlando Cepeda, who the Giants had deal for lefty Ray Sadecki in the middle of Franks' tenure.
2. Dusty Baker (1993-2002)—Baker will be remembered for one thing and fans everywhere know what it was. Game Six of the 2002 World Series and the Giants are nursing a comfortable lead behind starter Russ Ortiz. With millions of Giants fans tearing at their skin and screaming, "Don't do it," Baker pulled Ortiz, gave him the game ball as he left the mound and turned the game over to his overworked, but brilliant bullpen. Tim Worrell, Felix Rodriguez and Rob Nen looked mostly overworked. The Angels rallied to win, then won Game Seven. But, really, Baker did do great things while managing the Giants.
1. Roger Craig (1985-1992)—"Humm Baby" was the last old-school, scratch n' spit genius to run the Giants. Craig's 1987 team won 90 games and the 1989 club won 92. They were sandwiched around teams that finished over .500. He handled pitchers magnificently and was a wildly creative offensive tactician for a former big league pitcher who enjoyed marginal success in a long career. Craig oversaw the debut of stars like Will Clark, Robbie Thompson and Matt Williams.
Craig managed guys who'd been trouble elsewhere—Jeff Leonard and Kevin Mitchell—to their finest season. In fairness, Craig was part of a tag team with crafty general manager Al Rosen. Rosen was the last wheeler-dealer to be in charge before the GM job became overrun by talk of Type A free agents, arbitration clocks, etc.
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