Monday, May 23, 2005
May 23nd, 1928
Rogers Hornsby Hired as Braves' Manager
Hornsby, who was a legitimately great hitter by the way, one of the all-time best, took control of the team from Jack Slattery who had managed them to an 11-20 record. Hornsby immediately declared that his teammates--he was playing second base for the Braves--were "mostly bums." This statement was not out of character with the rest of Hornsby's career (more on that later) but probably not much of a motivational technique. That being said, it also was, if we're going to be frank, true. The Braves had Hornsby and George Sisler on the right side of their infield, and Lance Richbourg having a good season in the outfield. Besides that they were, well, bums. The team lost 103 games, and Hornsby was traded after the season to the Cubs.
With regards to Hornsby's comments not being out of character, that's true. Hornsby would have gotten along great with Ty Cobb; both were arrogant racists who managed the neat trick of thinking themselves better than they were, despite being pretty damn good. It was Hornsby, I believe, who said that if you shake a tree, ten gloves will fall out but no bats. That's probably true, but it was a self-serving comment if there ever was one, because while Hornsby could mash, as a second baseman he was average at best. When he managed, Hornsby's players almost to a man hated him, even the ones he didn't characterize as bums. Hornsby was once arguing with Art Fletcher (on the field) when out of nowhere, he decked Fletcher by punching him in the face. When asked why, Hornsby reported that he "wasn't making any progress trying to talk to him." I think you're probably getting a sense of the man.
Hornsby's last great year was 1929 for the Cubs, but he would eventually become manager, leading the Cubbies to the pennant in 1932, a year in which he presumably didn't need to break out the pejoratives to describe his team.