Monday, January 10, 2005

January 10th, 1996

Joe Schultz Dies

That is indeed the Joe Schultz of Ball Four, immortalized by Jim Bouton as the more-than-slightly inept manager of the more-than-slightly inept Seattle Pilots. Schultz was an interim manager in Detroit in 1973, taking over for Billy Martin and going 14-14 but would never have a full season as a manager after Seattle. His time in Detroit did serve to bring his career managerial record above .400, from the .395 of Seattle to .411, which is admittedly nothing special, but it beats .395, anyway. Schultz was a weak-hitting catcher, who played nine seasons for the Pirates and St. Louis Browns, establishing a career batting line not much more impressive than his managerial one: .259/.334/.314, with 1 HR in 328 at-bats.

Of course, being a poor major leaguer does not disqualify one from competent (or better) managerial ability. Of the truly successful managers, a significant number were mediocre major leaguers or never reached the majors themselves. Joe McCarthy won 2,125 games (5th all-time) with the best winning percentage of all-time (.615%) and never played a game in the major leagues. No one has ever been inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player and then later, as a manager. The closest case anyone has might belong to Joe Torre who is a former MVP and borderline Hall of Famer as a player, and an obvious sure thing as a manager. Some have even go so far as to argue that mediocre and role players make the best managers.

An oft-quoted line of Shakespeare reminds us that "some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em." Joe Schultz may have been born great, but acheieved only mediocrity
and then had mediocrity; in this case thy name is Pilots, thrust upon him.

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