Categorized | Baseball

Hall of Famer gets a rare shot to be a manager

It’s interesting that immensely successful big-league baseball players don’t become managers more often. People have surmised it’s because they were so naturally gifted, they didn’t have to “grind” as much as some other players.

Before last week, there were 13 managers who were voted into the Hall of Fame as players — not including those who were first player-managers during their career. Only four of them — Walter Johnson, Red Schoendienst, Yogi Berra and Bob Lemon — had winning records as managers, and few of them had long careers. And there hasn’t been a Hall of Famer managing a team since Frank Robinson was managing the Washington Nationals in 2006.

That changed Friday when the Philadelphia Phillies fired Charlie Manuel — perhaps the greatest manager in team history — and replaced him, at least temporarily, with Ryne Sandberg, who broke into the majors as a Phillie and had all but 13 games of his Hall of Fame career with the Chicago Cubs (a trade that has to be one of the worst trades in MLB history — the Phillies got Ivan DeJesus and the Cubs got Larry Bowa and Sandberg).

Sandberg picked up his first win on Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers after the Phillies were shut out by Zack Grienke and Clayton Kershaw on Friday and Saturday. That underscores the challenge in Philadelphia, where it’s obviously time to rebuild after a long run of success under Manuel, who had a .550 winning percentage in nine years and won two pennants and a World Series.

The Phillies’ batting average since July 19 is less than .220 and the pitching staff’s ERA is above 5. But if he gives the Phillies any sign of life, he’ll likely get his shot at the gig full-time in 2014.

And try to show that Hall of Famers can indeed be good managers.

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