Baseball managers never get the respect that they deserve. Their pictures never grace the cover of the sports page, they never make the highlight reel, and when a team is in a slump they are the first ones to lose their jobs. The only time baseball managers receive any media publicity is when they bump bellies with an umpire or get unceremoniously tossed out of a ballgame. So, as a tribute to these unsung heroes of the diamond, here is my list of the best managers in the history of the game.
1. Connie Mack. Any manager who has racked up more wins than Tommy Lasorda, Don Zimmer, and Bobby Valentine combined is surely one of the best managers of all time. With 3,731 wins to his name, Connie Mack is the all-time leader in baseball history. Unfortunately, his 3,948 career losses is also a record. Depending on how you look at it, Connie Mack is either the best manager in the history of baseball or the worst. But hey, he did have a stadium named after him, which is more than Joe Torre can say.
2. Joe McCarthy. Guiding the Bronx Bombers to eight pennants in sixteen years, McCarthy is the winningest manager in Yankees history. His 2,125 wins places him eighth all-time, but his winning percentage of .615 is a Major League record which will most likely never be broken.
3. Sparky Anderson. Being fifth in all-time managerial wins (with 2,194) is quite an accomplishment considering that as a player, Anderson’s career batting average was a paltry .218. Nonetheless, Anderson led the Cincinnati Red to two World Series victories before chalking up another with the Detroit Tigers in 1984. His superstitions are just as legendary as his managerial skills; throughout his 25-year career as a manager, Anderson has tripped many times on the field as a result of his refusal to step on the foul line.
4. Leo Durocher. Tenth in all-time wins with 2,009, Durocher was the epitome of what a manager should be. Colorful and outspoken, he was ejected from 95 ballgames in his managerial career. As a player, his feud with Babe Ruth is legendary. As a manager, his feud with Yankees owner Larry MacPhail led to a season-long suspension in 1947. Perhaps Durocher’s greatest legacy, however, is helping to erase the color barrier in baseball. He was an outspoken critic of segregation, and was the manager of the Dodgers when Jackie Robinson made his Major League debut.
5. Casey Stengel. Stengel’s 1,905 wins places him eleventh all-time. Stengel is the only person in baseball history to don the uniform of all four New York teams: Yankees, Mets, Giants, and Dodgers. As a manager, he led his teams to 7 World Series championships. Despite being only eleventh in coaching victories, Stengel was and remains one of the most beloved figures in the history of baseball, which is why he belongs on this list.