Tagged: Tony LaRussa

A team full of managers… and then some Part II

Last week, we looked at a starting infield comprised of players in the 1972 set who later became managers in the big leagues.

C: Jeff Torborg

1b: Cecil Cooper

2B: Tony LaRussa

SS: Larry Bowa

3B: Joe Torre

This week we’ll fill in the outfield, a DH slot and name our starting pitcher.

Outfield: Lou Piniella

Lou Piniella

Piniella won the Rookie of the Year award with the Royals in 1969 and had a nice career, ending with a .291 batting average and two world Series rings (1977 & 1978) as a member of the New York Yankees.

He then endured a managerial trial by fire by working for George Steinbrenner and Marge Schott back-to-back. Those jobs enabled him to hone the much-needed managerial skills of avoiding the back page of the tabloids and also avoiding and dog poop on astroturf.

Lou won a World Series with the 1990 Reds (beating LaRussa) and then moved to Seattle where he won three division titles and two Manager of the Year awards. His 2001 team won 116 regular season games before losing to the Yankees in the ALCS.

After three years in Tampa Bay, Lou piloted the Cubs to back-to-back division titles in 2007 & 2008.

Lou was a good player and a good manager, but if there’s one thing he was known for, it was this:

Outfield: Frank Robinson

Frank Robinson

Robinson sits atop this list as far on-field accomplishments go. He won the Rookie of the Year in 1956 and MVP awards in 1961 with the Reds and 1966 with the Orioles, a year in which he also won the Triple Crown. But Robby did more than just lead the league in batting average, homers and RBI that year. He also led in runs scored, on base %, slugging %. total bases and, just for good measure, sacrifice flies. He finished his career just shy of 3,000 hits, a .294 batting average and 586 homers. Hall of Fame credentials all the way around.

But he also became the first African-American manager in major league history when he took over the Cleveland Indians in 1975 as player/manager. Unfortunately, not even he could save the Indians of the mid-70s. Robinson also headed the Giants, Orioles and Expos/Nationals where he was famously asked by one of his players, “You played?”

It was also during his time in Washington that this outstanding event took place.

Outfield: Dusty Baker

Dusty Baker

Dusty was a solid major league outfielder for many years, hitting .278 with 242 homers over 19 seasons. I’ve always been interested with people who were on the fringes of history and Dusty fits that description since he was the on deck hitter when Henry Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974. That record still stands to this day as far as I’m concerned, but that’s another story.

Baker was also part of a Dodgers team in 1977 that became the first in history to have four players with at least 30 home runs. Dusty was the last to join the club, smacking home run #30 on the last day of the season off of J.R. Richard. He joined teammates Ron Cey, Steve Garvey and Reggie Smith in the Dodgers 30 homer run club that season.

Baker has enjoyed a lot of success and a lot of controversy as a manger of the Giants, Cubs and Reds.

He certainly has won a lot, including five division titles and a National League pennant with the Giants, but he also seems to really wear out his welcome and things ultimately end badly for him.

Side note: It took nearly 20 years for another team to have four 30 HR guys. Not surprisingly, it was the Rockies. Colorado did it four times in a five year period between 1995 and 1999. The year they didn’t pull it off during that time was 1998 after Andres Galarraga left to go to Atlanta. The addition of Gaglarraga allowed the ’98 Braves to join the 4×30 club too.
Quick summary: Professional baseball goes 100+ years before a team has four 30 homer guys, then one guy does it four times in four years with two different teams. But Galarraga never managed and was 10 years old when the ’72 set was released.

Designated Hitter: Hal McRae

Hal McRae

As a long-time National League fan, I was on the fence about adding a DH on the team, but I caved because there were simply too many guys to talk about. I also added a DH specifically so I could include Hal McRae whom I chose for a multiple reasons:

1: I like his style of play. He played old school baseball and was a master of the lost art of the takeout “slide” at second base, just ask Willie Randolph.

2: He could flat hit.

3: Former Rays manager and that’s gotta count for something.

But mostly I chose McRae because it gives me an excuse to include one of the best post-game meltdowns in big league history.

Pitcher: Larry Dierker


Dierker is our starting pitcher because of the 33 guys I found in the set who later became managers, he was the only pitcher among them. I must have been asleep during his career though because I didn’t realize how effective he actually was.

From 1968 through 1976, Dierker went 114-95 with a 3.28 ERA as a starter on some mediocre Astros teams. His best season was 1969 when he went 20-13 with a 2.33 ERA. Dierker was one of three members of the 1969 Astros rotation to record 200+ strikeouts, joining Don Wilson and Tom Griffin.

After retiring, Dierker broadcast Astros games on radio and TV until 1996 and then managed the team from 1997 through 2001, winning four division titles.


Major League Baseball had 24 teams in 1972. Each team carried a 25 man roster (before September 1) which equates to 600 active players. Of those 600, 33 later became managers. That means an amazing 6% of players in the big leagues in 1972 later became managers. If we were to apply those figures to the upcoming season we would be watching 41 future managers in 2014. Somehow I don’t see that happening.

Here’s the complete list of skippers from the 1972 set:

Player Wins Losses Win % Pennants World Series Wins
Jeff Torborg 634 718 .469 0 0
Cecil Cooper 171 170 .501 0 0
Tony LaRussa 2728 2365 .536 6 3
Larry Bowa 418 435 .490 0 0
Joe Torre 2326 1997 .538 6 4
Lou Piniella 1835 1713 .517 1 1
Frank Robinson 1065 1176 .475 0 0
Dusty Baker 1671 1504 .526 1 0
Hal McRae 399 473 .458 0 0
Larry Dierker 435 348 .556 0 0
Bobby Valentine 1186 1165 .504 1 0
Bud Harrelson 145 129 .529 0 0
Tony Perez 74 84 .468 0 0
Jim Fregosi 1028 1094 .484 1 0
Don Kessinger 46 60 .434 0 0
Mel Queen 4 1 .800 0 0
Tommy Helms 28 36 .438 0 0
Felipe Alou 1033 1021 .503 0 0
Buck Martinez 100 115 .465 0 0
Frank Howard 93 133 .412 0 0
Jim Lefebvre 417 422 .485 0 0
Cookie Rojas 76 79 .490 0 0
Cito Gaston 894 837 .516 2 2
Maury Wills 26 56 .317 0 0
Don Baylor 627 689 .476 0 0
Johnny Oates 797 746 .517 0 0
Doug Rader 388 417 .482 0 0
Pete Rose 412 373 .525 0 0
Bobby Wine 16 25 .390 0 0
Davey Johnson 1372 1071 .562 1 1
Pat Corrales 572 634 .474 0 0
Gene Michael 206 200 .507 0 0
Bill Russell 173 149 .537 0 0
Totals 21,395 20,455 .511 19 11

So there you have it. Thirty three players in the ’72 set became managers. Between them they won more than 21,000 games, 19 pennants and 11 World Series championships. Not too shabby. If I missed anyone, please let me know!