Catchers as Managers- a historical look

MLB.com has an article about former catchers who are now managers. According to the article, twelve of the thirty current managers in the majors have caught at least some games at the pro level.

The prevailing premise is that catchers work closer with the managers and get a better sense of the game. Of course, there is obligatory comments from a few of the former catchers/now-managers who say this is probably not true.

That got me thinking. I know that Connie Mack was a catcher before he reached his calling as the Master Tactitician. Al Lopez, too. So before I knew it I started making a mental list of historically great managers who might have been catchers in their playing days. I did a quick lookup and came up with a list of inactive managers in the top 75 in wins whose primary position was catcher.

Manager Games Caught Record as Manager
Connie Mack 609 3582-3814
Al Lopez 1925 840-650
Wilbert Robinson 1316 1375-1341
Birdie Tebbetts 1108 748-705
Johnny Oates 533 797-746
Buck Rodgers 895 784-774
Steve O’Neill 1532 1040-832
Paul Richards 486 923-901
Lee Fohl 5 713-792

This does not include Lou Boudreau (a University of Illinois alumni, BTW) who played 3 games at catcher. Lee Fohl managed Cleveland, St Louis and Boston in the teens and early twenties. He got as high as second place only once but still managed to win 713 games.

I don’t if this shows that mlb.com’s theory can be extended to the historical realm or not. It does seem that this is more of a recent phenomenon.

No tags for this post.

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment