It was Bucky, not Casey
September 11, 2002
Whoops, I messed up last Tuesday when I wrote in my column that Casey Stengel managed the 1947 New York Yankees to their 19-game win streak and World Series championship.
I was two years off the mark because Stengel took over as manager of the Yankees in 1949, succeeding Bucky Harris, who managed the Yankees to a 97-57 record and World Series title in 1947. However, he was fired after the ’48 season in which the team went 94-60 and settled for third behind the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox (the Indians beat the Red Sox in a playoff to move on to the World Series).
“Stengel had been the manager of the Oakland Oaks in ’48 and had pretty much given up on getting another major league shot after failing as manager of the Bees (which the Boston Braves were called for a while in the ’30s) and Dodgers,” wrote Chuck Hildebrand, editor of NevPrep.com. “Harris is pretty much forgotten now, but he was like the Don Zimmer of his time. No matter what he did, he kept getting jobs. He also is, I believe, the only manager besides Connie Mack and John McGraw who won pennants 20 or more years apart. He was the player-manager of the Senators when they won in ’24 and ’25. He didn’t get into the Hall of Fame until 1975, and he should have been in long before; he was one of the great middle infielders of his time as well.”
Here’s some background on Stanley Raymond “Bucky” Harris, who was born on Nov. 8, 1896 and died on his birthday in 1977, two years after he was elected to the Hall of Fame by Committee of Baseball Veterans in 1975.
Harris spent seven different decades in the majors as a player, manager and executive. He hit .300 as a rookie second baseman for Washington in 1920, and just four years later became player-manager for the Senators — at the age of 27. Amazingly enough, Washington won its first and only World Series in 1924 with a team led by ace pitcher Walter Johnson.
Harris batted .333 and hit two home runs during the 1924 World Series against the New York Giants. He also set records for chances, double plays and putouts in the seven-game Series. His base hit in the eighth inning of Game 7 tied the score and the Senators rallied in the 12th to win.
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The Senators repeated as AL champs in 1925, but lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the seven-game World Series. After a losing season in 1928, Harris was traded to the Detroit Tigers as player- manager. He managed the Tigers (1929-33), the Boston Red Sox (1934), Washington again (1935-42), the Philadelphia Phillies (1943), Yankees (1947-48), Washington for a third time (1950-54) and finally Detroit (1955-56). He finished with a 2,159-2,219 career record as manager in the majors.
To show his popularity, when Harris was fired by the Phillies at mid-season in 1943, his players threatened to walk out on strike to protest the move.
Another footnote to my last column about the New York Giants and their major league record 26-game win streak: Technically speaking, that was a 26-game unbeaten streak because the second game of their Sept. 18 double header against the Pittsburgh Pirates was called after eight innings with the score tied 1-1.
Also, I pointed out that the Giants had blown a 14-game lead in 1914 and finished second behind the “Miracle Braves.” That really was a miraculous team, a page right out of the movies, “Angels in the Outfield” and “Major League.” Or even the “Bad News Bears.”
The Braves were at the bottom of the National League standings with a 33-43 record and 15 games behind the first-place Giants on June 19. After losing a Fourth of July doubleheader to Brooklyn, the fired up Braves went 68-19 the rest of the way and went from last to first in just 50 days.
There were no stars and the team had but one rule: “Do what you want but don’t wind up in jail and come to play everyday.”
To show how tough these Braves were, just look at one game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. With the score tied 0-0, Walter “Rabbit” Maranville came to bat with the bases loaded. Maranville fell behind 0-2 on the count, but merely inched closer to the plate and took one for the team — a pitch that hit him in the forehead. Umpire Charlie Moran questioned the attempt to avoid the pitch, but told Maranville if he could walk to first base, he could have it. Maranville made it to collect what was very likely the most painful of his 78 RBIs that season and the Braves won the game 1-0.
Boston went on to win the pennant, 10 games ahead of the Giants, and then swept the Philadelphia Athletics four straight in the World Series.
Dave Price is a sports writer for the Nevada Appeal
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