Philadelphia Inquirer - January 20, 1980

Major league experience not the best teacher for pilots


By Allen Lewis, On Baseball


In baseball, they are twisting George Bernard Shaw's words. Instead of "He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches," the game's bigwigs evidently believe, "He who did not succeed as a player will succeed as a manager."


At midseason, 1946, in the first season after World War II, there wasn't a manager in the big leagues who hadn't played in the majors, and the 16 managers' average number of years as a player was nine. By 1955, Allen Lewis on baseball. that average had dropped to six. In 1980, it will be less than one.


Only four of the 26 managers in the coming season were long-time major league regulars. The three who work in the National League – Joe Torre of the Mets, Ken Boyer of the Cardinals and Bill Virdon of the Astros – were regulars for more than a decade. The fourth, Jim Fregosi of the Angels, was a regular for eight seasons.


Three of the current managers in each major league never played a single big league game, and none of the 16 others played regularly more than three years.


Of the three managers who were pitchers, only Dallas Green of the Phillies ever won a big league game. In 185 games, Green posted 20 victories against 22 defeats. Tommy LaSorda of the Dodgers was 0-4 in 26 games, George Bamberger of the Brewers 0-0 in 10 games.


Not surprisingly, infielders are favored when managers are selected. Of the 20 managers who played in the major leagues, 13 were primarily infielders, two were catchers and two were outfielders.


But those who do the hiring appear to be on the right track. In the last 20 years, 26 of the 40 pennant-winning teams were managed by men who either never played in the major leagues or who were regulars no more than three years. In the last 10 years, 15 of the 20 pennant winners were piloted by men with less than four seasons as regulars. Since division play began in 1969, only 13 of the 44 division winners have been managed by men who had been major league regulars at least four seasons.




The answer to last week's Trivia Question: The 1973 Phillies, who finished 11½ games behind the Mets in the National League's Eastern Division, wound up closer to first place than any other last-place team. Dave Bernstein of Norristown was first with the correct answer.... This week's Trivia Question: What player, who played only one defensive position in his entire major league career, played the most big league games?