The bakers’ dozen of baseball (Part 2)

By Gary Norris Gray, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: July 19, 2010

Frank Robinson

Frank Robinson

CALIFORNIA (BASN) — Now that the second half of the 2010 baseball season has begun, we take a look at the accomplishments of African American managers in Major League Baseball.

There is hope in the future for Black managers if they are given the opportunity.

These men prove that African Americans can lead men on the field. Maybe one day this list will no-longer be needed because these talented men will be hired for their skills and not their heritage or forced by law.

Yesterday we mentioned a short list of African-American managers in Major League Baseball history. Today, we resume our list which will again be presented in alphabetical order.

Ha1 McRae (Royals and Devil Rays)

McRae managed the Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays. He will always be remembered for his infamous locker room tirade while with K.C. He threw the phone against the wall after a Royals loss in response to a very unthoughtful question by a reporter.

The phone cord struck the offending reporter in the lower cheek. However, McRae should be remembered as being the first African American manager from an historically black college. A member of the Royals’ 1995 World Champion squad, McRae is a graduate of Florida A&M.

Lloyd McClendon (Pirates)

McClendon tried to change the losing culture in the Pirate organization when he took over in 2001. He would challenge players, fans, and umpires to be better. It just did not work. McClendon had a .430 winning percentage on a horrible team. His first and last years in Pittsburgh were rough with the Pirates in last place. Another Black manager that will be remembered for a one time incident. He ripped the first base pad out of the ground, took it the dugout, then throwing it against the wall, after a very close play at first. Nobody went near McClendon or the bag. He is currently the hitting instructor with the Detroit Tigers and the bone of contention for Detroit’s hitting woes.

Willie Randolph (Mets)

He is the most underrated manager of all time as he took the Mets to the playoffs in his second year, then missed the playoffs two years straight. Randolph learned how to manage in Yankee Stadium as the third base coach under the guidance of Joe Torre. He had been mentioned many times to be the next New York Yankee Manager. It would not be and Randolph went across town in 2005. Randolph owns the best winning percentage of African American managers with 500 or more games.

He was also the manager of the second biggest collapse in baseball history equaling that of the 1964 Phillies. In 2007, New York was leading the NL East by seven games with 17 to go. They ironically would lose out to the Phillies.

Back in 1964, the Mets had to beat the Cardinals on the last day of the season for Philly to win the pennant. It did not happen. The Mets have never been the same since his departure in 2008. He now coaches with the Milwaukee Brewers

Frank Robinson (Indians, Giants, Orioles, Expos, and Nationals)

The major’s first black manager, the Hall of Famer has the most victories by an African-American manager with 1,065. After a longtime stint with MLB, he returned to the field in 2002 when the league took over operations of the Montreal Expos.

Back in 1975, Robinson began his managerial career with the Cleveland Indians. He was also a player-manager to this fledgling team, mired in fourth place with a struggling pitching staff. To add insult to injury the team wore bright red-orange uniforms from head to toe. One could not miss them. The Indians could not produce victories as the team never went past fourth place in the AL East.

He would later move on to San Francisco in 1981 where he had to deal with rebellious players. The so-called “God Squad” undermined every move he made on the field. It finally came to a head one night in 1983 when Robinson came to the mound to remove pitcher Jim Barr. He tossed the ball to Robinson and attempted to walkoff the mound. Robinson grabbed the player by the shirt and pulled him back to the mound before taking the ball. That was the beginning of the end of the “God Squad” and the end of Robinson in San Francisco.

He would eventually become the law and order man of MLB. He would assess fines to players, coaches, and umpires for misconduct on the field. Many stated that he was a hard but fair man in the Major League Baseball executive offices.

Jerry Royster (Brewers)

During has career, Royster played for the Dodgers, Braves, Padres, White Sox, and York Yankees. A utility player most of his career, he watched the game from the bench watching the strategies of the game. His goal was to be a major league manager.

However, Royster knew how difficult this would be because he knew the low number of Black managers in the league.

The Brewers gave Royster a chance at being a manager in 2002 only winning 53 games. This was only a stop gap measure by Milwaukee until they could find a permanent manager. He currently manages in the Korean League with the Lotte Giants in Busan becoming the league’s first Black foreign manager.

Ron Washington (Rangers)

After serving on the coaching staffs of the Mets and Athletics, Washington finally got his chance in Arlington. While with Oakland, he helped mold players like Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez while solidifying the A’s infield. Texas has followed the Washington imprint as they are currently leading the AL in fielding and sit atop the AL West.

Before the 2010 season started it was revealed that Washington used and tested positive for cocaine in 2009. The manager came out and held a press conference answering all questions. He said he was sorry and the incident has seemed to have disappeared. Having a winning record has also helped.

Maury Wills (Mariners)

One of the the fastest man in baseball could not teach young players how to win. The NL’s Most Valuable Player in 1962 played in three World Series for the Dodgers. He previously held the single-season stolen base mark and was a two-time Gold Glover. However, the famous Dodger speedster struggled as a skipper.

Many believe that Wills was overwhelmed by the different duties the managers had to perform each day. Like many other superstars of the game, Wills could not teach his baseball instincts to the young Mariners of the 1980’s. Communication was not his strong suit and the team suffered in the long run.

Most African Americans only get one shot at managing a major league team. Frank Robinson and Dusty Baker have been the exception to this rule. If a Black manager is given a decent team they will win.

Hopefully this list will continue to grow at the turn of this century.

Up next: Latino and Asian managers.