Ozzie Guillen and the 15 Most Controversial Managers in MLB History

Robert Knapel@@RobertKnapel_BRCorrespondent IApril 10, 2012

Ozzie Guillen and the 15 Most Controversial Managers in MLB History

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    Baseball is supposed to be about the players on the field, but there have been times when managers have come into the spotlight. Most of the time, this is for all of the wrong reasons.

    There have been a number of controversial managers in baseball's history, but many of them are able to keep doing their jobs despite the problems that they cause.

    Ozzie Guillen's name obviously comes to mind when thinking about controversial MLB managers and his  comments about Fidel Castro are just the latest example of a mistake that he has made.

    A number of other managers have not been afraid to speak their mind to the public or even get involved with fights and this makes them highly controversial.

Bobby Valentine

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    The most famous incident that involved Bobby Valentine occurred when he returned to the New York Mets dugout wearing a t-shirt, a fake mustache and glasses after he was ejected during a game against the Toronto Blue Jays on July 9, 1999.

    However, that was not the most controversial moment that Valentine has had. That honor goes to the Whartongate incident. Valentine was speaking to students at Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania and he was candid about team management and some of the Mets players. Some of what Valentine said was leaked to the public and this caused some problems.

    There was a lot of tension between Valentine and the front office and he eventually lost his job as the Mets manager in 2002.

Billy Martin

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    Billy Martin caused some problems when he was a player in the major leagues and he has issues when he returned to the big leagues as a manager.

    The Twins hired Martin to be their manager for the 1969 season and he led them to a division title. However, Martin also fought pitcher Dave Boswell in an alley outside a bar late in the season. This would eventually lead to his firing.

    His next managerial job was with the Detroit Tigers and Martin once again caused issues. He flipped off camera's for his baseball card picture and during one fight during a game he needed to be restrained.

    One of the most famous incidents of Martin's managerial career came when he was managing the New York Yankees. In 1977, Martin got into a fight with Reggie Jackson during a nationally televised game.

    Martin's relationship with George Steinbrenner was rocky after comments he made in 1978, but the two seemed to resolve their issues and Martin had a few more stints with the Yankees. During one of them he got into a fight with Yankees pitcher Ed Whitson who broke one of Martin's arms.

Ben Chapman

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    When Jackie Robinson reached the major leagues, not everyone was accepting of him. One of the people that was not a fan of Robinson was Philadelphia Phillies manager Ben Chapman.

    While preparing his team for a game against the Brooklyn Dodgers, Chapman told his pitchers to hit Robinson if he had a 3-0 count. Chapman also instructed his players to verbally abuse Robinson.

Ozzie Guillen

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    Ozzie Guillen has embroiled in controversy throughout most of his managerial career. When he was with the Chicago White Sox, Guillen declined a visit to the White House after the team won the World Series and instead he went to visit Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

    In 2006, Guillen found himself in hot water after using a slur when talking about Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti. Guillen once again caused some problems in 2010 when he said that Asian players are given unfair advantages that Latin American players do not receive.

    The most recent incident that Guillen had came from comments that he made about how he goes out and drinks every night during a road trip and the he supports Fidel Castro. This earned him a five-game suspension

Pete Rose

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    Despite being baseball's all-time hit leader, Pete Rose is not enshrined in Cooperstown. It is all because of what he did when he was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

    Rose infamously was banned from baseball after it was found out that he bet on baseball. There has not been any proof that Rose bet against the Reds while he was their manager.

    In 1988, Rose was suspended for 30 games after he pushed umpire Dave Pallone after a call that allowed the New York Mets to win a game. A delayed call at first on a Mookie Wilson grounder gave Howard Johnson time to round third base and score.

Lee Elia

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    When a team is playing poorly it is not uncommon for them to start booing the home team and showing their frustration. What is uncommon is when that booing really gets to a manager.

    Chicago Cubs fans let their team hear it after they got off to a 5-14 record following their 73-89 record from the previous season. Cubs manager Lee Elia was fed up with the fans and he spoke out during a postgame interview.

    Elia gave a profanity-laced tirade and he ripped on the team's fans. He managed to keep his job for a few months after the incident but he was eventually fired in August of the same year as the Cubs' struggles continued.

Jack O'Connor

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    During the 1910 season, Jack O'Connor served as a player manager for the lowly St. Louis Browns when he became mired in controversy.

    That season featured a close race for the batting title between Nat Lajoie and Ty Cobb with Cobb leading going into the last day of the season. The award came with a free car that season.

    O'Connor ordered his third baseman to play deep in left field and this allowed Lajoie to lay down five bunts for easy hits during the doubleheader. When Lajoie reached on an error during his last at-bat, O'Connor tried to bribe the official scorer to make her change the call.

    As a result of these actions, O'Connor was informally banned from baseball for life.

Ossie Vitt

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    A manager is supposed to be able to bring his players together. There are different tactics for bringing a team together, but Ossie Vitt definitely did not do it the correct way in Cleveland.

    After an incident involving pitcher Mel Harder, the team came together against Vitt. They wanted him to be removed as their manager and they signed a petition to give to owner Alva Bradley. Vitt kept the job for the rest of the season and his team earned the nickname the "Cleveland Crybabies."

    He was fired after the season when the team won 89 games but missed the players.

John Gibbons

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    John Gibbons began managing the Toronto Blue Jays in 2004 and he kept the job until 2008 despite the fact that he became embroiled in a few controversial moments.

    In 2005, Gibbons began to yell at starter Dave Bush in the dugout after Bush showed some displeasure over the fact that he had been taken out of the game.

    Following an incident in 2006 when Shea Hillenbrand wrote a comment about the team's struggles on a board in the clubhouse, Gibbons challenged him to a fight which Hillenbrand declined.

    Later that year, Gibbons once again had a problem when taking a pitcher off the mound. Ted Lilly refused to hand him the ball after a rough start. Lilly then left the mound and headed towards the clubhouse. When Gibbons caught up to him, the two got involved in a pushing match.

Hal McRae

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    Hal McRae played in the major leagues for 19 seasons, but the reason that most people remember him is for the infamous tirade that he had during his time as the manager of the Kansas City Royals.

    He let his emotions get the best of him after an early season loss and he went on a profanity-laced tirade. McRae looked for anything that he could throw in his office including a phone. The phone hit a reporter in the head and McRae was suspended for the incident.

Earl Weaver

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    No list about controversial managers would be complete without Earl Weaver. He was well known for his temper and he was ejected from almost 100 regular-season games.

    There were a number of times when Weaver went onto the field that he would kick dirt at the umpire he was unhappy with.

    Weaver is responsible for the only game that the Baltimore Orioles franchise has forfeited in its history. After discussing an issue with the tarp in foul territory in Toronto with umpire Marty Springstead, Weaver pulled his team off the field because Springstead would not order the tarp and the bricks holding it down would not be moved.

Lou Piniella

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    There are not many managers in baseball history that were better than Lou Piniella and there were also not too many that had a worse temper than Piniella.

    Piniella was never afraid to do anything controversial. He spoke out about his team when he was struggling and he would get right in umpires faces and kick dirt on them during arguments over calls.

Leo Durocher

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    Leo Durocher's penchant for screaming at umpires earned him the nickname "Leo the Lip." He would go toe-to-toe with umpires as he berated them for the calls that he disagreed with.

    Durocher not only went after umpires, but he also clashed with MLB commissioner Happy Chandler on a number of issues. This came as a result of the fact that Durocher was friends with many people that were known to be gamblers and bookmakers.

Bobby Cox

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    Former Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox holds the major league record with 158 ejections during his career as a manager.

    It didn't seem as if you were watching a Braves game unless Cox came out to argue with an umpire at least once a game. This certainly helped him motivate the Braves players as they were one of the top teams in baseball during his tenure with them.

Don Wakamatsu

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    Don Wakamatsu managed to stay out of controversy for most of his career in the major leagues as a manager but he did have an incident that makes him stand out.

    In 2010, Wakamatsu got involved in a fight with Chone Figgins. There was also another incident that he was involved in with Ken Griffey Jr. Wakamatsu apparently pressured Griffey Jr. into retirement which is something that was disliked by the Seattle Mariners fanbase.


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