San Diego Padres: Ranking the Top Ten Managers in Padres History
Over their 40-plus years of existence, the Padres have gone through a total of 16 managers, some high profile and some forgettable, others long-tenured and even one with a total of one game managed. Unfortunately, the Padres' overall record and postseason success are not much to be proud of, so the bar may be a little lower than say the Dodgers or the Yankees. So how do the managers stack up against one another, and who comes out on top as the best manager in Padres history?
Honorable Mention: Bob Skinner
Photo courtesy of the San Diego Hall of Champions
Not too many people can say they have never lost a game as the manager of a team, but Bob Skinner can. Called on to manage the team on an interim basis (one game), Skinner led the Padres to a 3-2 win over the Houston Astros on May 29, 1977.
He did not have much success prior to this as the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies during the 1968-1969 seasons with a record of 92-123, and after his one game as the manager of the Padres, he never managed in the majors again. Might as well go out on top!
Photo Courtesy of the Associated Press
As the first manager of the Padres, Preston Gomez has the dubious honor of leading the Padres to their worst record in a season (52-110) and only a .363 winning percentage.
In addition to that, he also pinch-hit for Clay Kirby who was throwing a no-hitter through eight innings in 1970, a game they eventually lost in the ninth inning..
Although his winning percentage and track record for breaking up no-hitters (he did while managing the Astros four years later) leave a bad taste in fans' mouths, he was given the unenviable task of leading an expansion franchise before free agency leveled the playing field, so his place in Padres history can't be denied.
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Better known for his long tenure as the Padres radio and TV voice, Jerry Coleman spent the 1980 season as the Padres manager, leading the team to a 73-89 record and a last-place finish.
After the season, he was fired and returned to the broadcast booth, where he remains to this day (in a part-time capacity the past few years). Although his time as a manager was not a success in the standings, Coleman has said that it changed the way he has broadcast games since then and made him a better announcer.
Image courtesy of The Trading Card Database
After jettisoning Dick Williams before the 1986 season, the Padres replaced him with former major league infielder and A's manager Steve Boros.
When he was hired as manager after serving as the Director of Minor League Instruction, the low-key Boros was considered to be the polar opposite of Dick Williams, whom the players did not particularly care for. However, Boros' only season as manager of the Padres was nothing to speak of, as the team ended the season 74-88, and he was replaced by Larry Bowa after the season.
While that record is nothing to write home about, compared to some of his predecessors and those who would follow him as manager (including Bowa), being 14 games under .500 for his career isn't that bad.
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The man whom most will remember as Bruce Bochy's predecessor, Jim Riggleman wasn't given much to work with during his tenure as Padres' manager.
Riggleman only managed one full season, as he took over for Greg Riddoch with 12 games to go in 1992 and had his final season in 1994 cut short by the players' strike.
During his only full season, 1993, Riggleman had his team dismantled during what many fans remember as the "Fire Sale of '93." In addition to losing Benito Santiago via free agency and Tony Fernandez via trade in the offseason, Fred McGriff, Gary Sheffield and Bruce Hurst were all traded mid-season, and the team ended the season 61-101.
After compiling a 112-179 record, Riggleman left the Padres to become the manager of the Chicago Cubs after the strike was resolved and gave way to the Padres' longest-tenured manager, Bruce Bochy.
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Greg Riddoch's time as the Padres manager between 1990-1992 is a sad tale of what could have been. Riddoch's career winning percentage is .508, which on the surface seems pretty respectable. However, he was not able to make the most of the talent he was given.
As the manager in his last season, Riddoch's roster included Fred McGriff, Gary Sheffield, Tony Gwynn, Benito Santiago and Andy Benes, yet he was fired with 12 games to go in 1992.
So how does a manager whose team was six games above .500 for the season and had a career winning percentage above .500 get replaced? When the veterans dislike him so much that they threaten not to play for the team if he comes back. Ouch.
After Jim Riggleman took over for the last twelve games and returned in 1993, it was not long before the infamous "Fire Sale" of 1993 took place and things took a turn for the worse.
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See if this sounds familiar: the Padres employ a manager who is able to improve the club's recent fortunes some, but he is not able to get them over the hump and is eventually shown the door. Afterward, he becomes the manager of the San Francisco Giants and has the Giants in the World Series within a few years.
Nope, not who you think. While Bruce Bochy is the most recent version, Roger Craig followed that storyline first. Between 1978-1979, Craig guided the Padres to a .471 winning percentage and the team's first winning record, a definite improvement over his predecessors. However, after regressing during the 1979 season, Craig was let go and became better known for his years with the Giants.
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As the general manager of the Padres between 1981 and 1990, "Trader Jack" McKeon was largely responsible for assembling the Padres' first World Series team.
McKeon took over for Larry Bowa in the middle of the 1988 season and led the team to a third-place finish in the NL West that season and a second-place finish in 1989.
McKeon has the highest overall winning percentage among Padres managers at .541, but he stepped down from managing during the 1990 season and was fired as the general manager after the season ended.
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The Padres current manager, Bud Black has not yet been able to lead his team to the postseason but has led them to the cusp, with the team in contention the last day of the season twice. Overall, Black has done an admirable job the past few seasons considering the financial constraints of the organization.
Voted manager of the year in 2010 and seen by many as a players' manager, Black has been able to keep a cool demeanor despite losing several of his best players through trades and being asked to work with a young and often inexperienced group of players.
Through the end of the 2010 season, Black has a 370-398 record, something he hopes to improve on as the Padres begin to climb out of another rebuilding mode.
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While not one to win a popularity contest among his players, there's no question that Dick Williams had a successful career as a manager. Included in his Hall of Fame career were his four years with the Padres during which the Padres made their first postseason and World Series appearance.
During his time with the Padres, Williams went 337-311, making him one of a few managers with a winning percentage above .500. It would be another 14 years before the Padres would repeat Williams' feat and get back to the World Series.
Hindsight is 20/20, isn't it? While you could probably argue that Bruce Bochy wouldn't have won a World Series in San Diego the past few years given the collection of players they've had, it definitely doesn't leave a good taste in your mouth when the manager who was shown the door by the club wins a World Series title with a division rival.
As the longest-tenured manager and leader in career wins, Bochy was able to bring a level of success back to the Padres that had been missing for several years. During his tenure, the Padres made the playoffs four times and in 1998 returned to the World Series. He was named the Manager of the Year in 1996.
While he was not always given a competitive team from a payroll standpoint, Bochy seemed to make the best of what he was given and from this fan's perspective, had his teams playing beyond their potential.
Despite Bochy's success, when Sandy Alderson arrived as CEO, he refused to give Bochy a vote of confidence after the 2006 season. It was not long before Bochy was allowed to interview for and become the manager of the Giants, ending an important era in Padres baseball history.