80th birthday: Whitey Herzog

Eighty years ago today, one of the most famous and successful managers in baseball history was born: Whitey Herzog.

In other words, even though he’s long retired and already enshrined in Cooperstown, Herzog is actually a tad younger than Jack McKeon, who managed the Florida Marlins much of this year. Sure, but McKeon is the outlier there, not Herzog.

Let’s look at Herzog’s departure for a second. He stopped managing in the middle of 1990, when he was 58 years of age. Compared to the recently retired trinity of Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox, and Joe Torre, Herzog left the dugout early. Torre was 70 when he managed his last game, Cox 69, and LaRussa turned 67 in this year’s postseason.

Yeah, but those guys are also among the longest-lasting managers in history. Let’s compare Herzog to his peers. He’s one of five Hall of Fame managers to work primarily in the 1970s and 1980s. The others are Earl Weaver, Sparky Anderson, Dick Williams, and Tommy Lasorda.

Weaver managed his last game at age 56, Anderson at age 61, and Williams 59. Those guys were all about the same age as Herzog. The only outlier is Tommy Lasorda, who left the job at age 68.

What we’re really seeing here is that managers have gotten older. When 2011 ended, eight managers were older than Herzog’s 58. Heck, La Russa was only the fourth-oldest. Aside from McKeon, he’s also younger than Davey Johnson, and Charlie Manuel. Jim Leyland is barely younger than La Russa, and Terry Collins, Dusty Baker, and Ron Washington are older now than Herzog ever was in his dugout days.

Heck, Joe Maddon, generally considered to be one of the better up-and-comers in the managing game, will be 58 on Opening Day next year. There are only seven currently employed managers younger than 50. The youngest current manager, Manny Acta, will turn 43 this off-season. Herzog was 43 when he managed his third team, the Royals.

(To be fair, that’s playing with numbers. Herzog was 41 when first hired by the Rangers and fired late that year. At age 42, he served as interim manager for the Angels for all of four games. At age 43, he became Royals manger. Acta actually had more experience at age 43 than Herzog did, but Acta is the modern outlier).

Regardless of how things have changed, Herzog turns 80 years old today. Even by current standards that’s old for a job. But Herzog might listen if a team called about a dugout opening.

Aside from that, many other events celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is an event occurring X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you just want to skim.

Day-versaries

1,000 days since the Angels sign Bobby Abreu as a free agent.

3,000 days since Bobby Bonds dies.

3,000 days since the Yankees retire number 49 for Ron Guidry.

6,000 days since Buck Showalter manages his 472nd game, a new record for a Yankee manager under owner George Steinbrenner.

6,000 days since Joe Torre, then piloting the Cardinals, loses his 1,000th game as manager. His record: 900-1,000.

7,000 days since Curt Schilling tosses a one-hitter, allowing only a solo home run by Bobby Bonilla in the fifth. That and a batter who reaches on error on the only runners to reach base.

7,000 days since Robin Yount bangs out his 3,000th hit in only his 2,708th game.

7,000 days since baseball owners vote to make Milwaukee Brewers owner Bud Selig temporary commissioner until a full-time one can be found. 7,000 days later, it’s still Selig.

10,000 days since Jack Morris wins his 100th game for a 100-67 record.

10,000 days since Joe Morgan breaks Rogers Hornsby’s record for most homers by a second baseman with 265.

10,000 days since Tim Teufel hits an odd inside-the-park home run. It’s a single to Chicago White Sox’s Harold Baines in right with two outs in the ninth, but the ball takes a weird bounce over Baines’ head and the Twins win, 3-2. It’s the second straight game featuring a Twins inside-the-park home run. Randy Bush belted one yesterday.

25,000 days since Hall of Famer Lefty Gomez appears in his last game.

30,000 days since Miller Huggins manages his last game.

Anniversaries

1862 Billy Sunday is born.

1912 The Reds select Frank Chance off waivers from the Cubs.

1925 Bill Bruton, Milwaukee Brave, is born.

1925 Brooklyn claims Rabbit Maranville off waivers from the Cubs.

1935 Bob Gibson is born.

1950 The White Sox release veteran shortstop Luke Appling.

1951 The Tigers release Charlie Keller.

1953 In the Toolson case, the Supreme Court rules in a 7-2 vote that baseball is a sport, not a business and thus exempt from anti-trust laws.

1958 Brewers pitcher Teddy Higuera is born.

1973 The Reds trade Bobby Tolan and another player to the Padres for Clay Kirby.

1976 The A’s release sweet swinging Billy Williams.

1977 Fred Haney, former big league manager, dies.

1977 The Rangers sign free agent Richie Zisk.

1979 Adam Dunn is born.

1990 The Giants sign free agent Bud Black.

1992 The Rockies sign amateur free agent Neifi Perez.

1992 Drayton McLane Jr. purchases the Houston Astros.

1992 The Mariners name Lou Piniella as their new manager.

1994 The Pirates sign Dan Plesac as a free agent.

1998 Catfish Hunter announces that he’s suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease.

1998 The Dodgers sign free agent Devon White.

2004 The Cubs hire Bob Brenly to replace Steve Stone as TV color commentary man.

2004 The Seattle Mariners hire Don Baylor as their hitting coach, replacing Paul Molitor.

2008 Former NL pitcher Preacher Roe dies.

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Comments

  1. Detroit Michael said...

    I checked:  Billy Sunday was indeed born on a Sunday. 

    Furthermore, apparently “Sunday” was his real family name (his father anglicized the German “Sonntag”).  That always struck me as a bit too perfect considering his later career as a Christian evangelist, but it’s not a stage name apparently.

  2. Detroit Michael said...

    Chris,

    FYI, I’m the guy who wrote a review of your book on Amazon.com.  The book was excellent—I wish I could do more to spread the word to baseball fans elsewhere.  I enjoy most of your articles at this website too.

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