|Infielder / Manager|
November 18, 1925|
|Died: August 8, 2005
Rancho Mirage, California
|Batted: Right||Threw: Right|
|April 18, 1944 for the Brooklyn Dodgers|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 28, 1957 for the Boston Red Sox|
|Runs batted in||62|
Gene William Mauch (November 18, 1925 – August 8, 2005) was an American professional baseball player and manager. He played in Major League Baseball as a second baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers (1944, 1948), Pittsburgh Pirates (1947), Chicago Cubs (1948–49), Boston Braves (1950–51), St. Louis Cardinals (1952) and the Boston Red Sox (1956–57).
Mauch was best known for managing four teams from 1960 to 1987. He is by far the winningest manager to have never won a league pennant (breaking the record formerly held by Jimmy Dykes), three times coming within a single victory. He managed the Philadelphia Phillies (1960-68), Montreal Expos (1969–75, as their inaugural manager), Minnesota Twins (1976–80), and California Angels (1981–82, 1985–87). His 1,902 career victories ranked 8th in major league history when he retired, and his 3,942 total games ranked 4th. He gained a reputation for playing a distinctive "small ball" style, which emphasized defense, speed and base-to-base tactics on offense rather than power hitting.
Born in Salina, Kansas, and raised in Los Angeles, California, Mauch had played parts of nine seasons from 1944 to 1957 with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, Boston Braves, St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox. In 304 games and 737 at-bats, Mauch hit .239, with 5 home runs and 62 RBIs, striking out 82 times.
He first became a manager at age 27 in 1953, when the Braves named him the player-manager of their Double-A Atlanta Crackers farm team in the Southern Association. His team finished 84–70, in third place, three games behind the Memphis Chickasaws, and fell in the first round of the playoffs to the eventual league champion Nashville Vols.
From 1954 to 1957, Mauch was strictly a player, first for the Pacific Coast League Los Angeles Angels, then the Red Sox. In 1958–59, he managed the Bosox' Triple-A affiliate, the Minneapolis Millers of the American Association, reaching the Junior World Series as American Association champion each season, and winning the 1958 JWS championship. He was slated to begin a third season as the Millers' boss in 1960 when, in mid-April, just prior to the start of the American Association's season, the Phillies chose him to replace Eddie Sawyer, who had resigned after the club's opening game of the regular season. Mauch was 34 years old at time.
Mauch was a strong advocate of "small ball", the emphasis on offensive fundamentals such as bunting, sacrifice plays, and other ways of advancing runners, as opposed to trying to score runs primarily through slugging. His teams generally played in ballparks that were not friendly to home run hitters, which increased the effectiveness of this approach. While his teams occasionally featured power hitters such as Dick Allen, Rusty Staub and Reggie Jackson, they depended just as heavily on hitters adept at getting on base through contact hitting and patience at the plate, such as Rod Carew, and on strong defensive play by such stars as Bobby Grich and Bob Boone.
Renowned as an excellent manager of his bench, Mauch also had a reputation for provoking opposing teams with taunting, and of having a strong temperament that stressed himself and his teams excessively in the belief that he could win by sheer will. Mauch had frequent fiery exchanges with umpires. Mauch was not shy when arguing an umpiring play. He used his bombastic personality to help his team gain any possible advantage on the baseball diamond. Mauch had a brilliant baseball mind and is sometimes credited with starting the “double player switch". Mauch gained a reputation for being loyal to his players and became known as the Little General.
Mauch came tantalizingly close to the World Series on three occasions. In late September 1964, his Phillies had a record of 90–60, a 6 1⁄2 game lead in the National League with 12 games left to play, and were starting a 7-game home stand. Mauch decided to start his two pitching aces, Jim Bunning and Chris Short, in 7 of the last 10 games, 4 of those starts on 2 days rest (all of which they lost). The Phillies faded, losing 10 games in a row before winning their last 2 games to finish tied for second place with the Cincinnati Reds, one game behind the St. Louis Cardinals in a collapse infamously known as the "Phold." The other 2 near-World-Series cases came with the Angels.
In 1982, his Angels team won the American League's Western Division, and won the first two games, at home, in a best-of-5 ALCS against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Angels needed only one more victory to advance to their first World Series. Chances were great, since no team had ever lost the ALCS after winning the first two games. But Milwaukee came back to win all three remaining games (in Milwaukee) and the AL pennant. Some blamed Mauch, who chose to start Tommy John and Bruce Kison, winners of the first two games, in Games 4 and 5 on three days' rest each.
In 1986, the Angels again won the Western title, and led in the fifth game of the (by now best-of-7) ALCS against the Boston Red Sox, just one strike away from the Fall Classic, but Boston's Dave Henderson hit a home run off Angels reliever Donnie Moore to put the Red Sox ahead. The Angels tied the game in the bottom of the 9th, but the Red Sox went on to win the game in extra innings as well as the remaining two games in Boston to take the Series, and denied Mauch his last real chance to win a pennant and a World Series championship.
Mauch was suddenly forced to retire as manager of the Angels during spring training in 1988 at age 62 because of ill health, reportedly caused by his cigarette smoking. The team's advance scout, Cookie Rojas, who had played for Mauch with the Phillies, took command of the club. Seven years after his retirement as a manager, Mauch returned in 1995 as bench coach with the Kansas City Royals to assist Bob Boone, who was in his first year as a big league skipper.
Compounding his ill-starred reputation as a manager, he was the skipper during two of the longest losing streaks in Major League history. His 1961 Phillies lost 23 in a row, one short of the Major League record. His expansion 1969 Expos lost 20 in a row before finally ending it, as Mauch had to endure media reminders of his teams' previous loss streaks in 1961 and 1964.
He managed his nephew Roy Smalley III during his tenure with the Minnesota Twins. Smalley's father, Roy, Jr., married Mauch's sister, Jolene. Roy Jr. and Mauch grew up and played sandlot baseball together in Los Angeles, California.
- Inline citations
- Halberstam 1994, pp. 304–306
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Baseball-Reference.com - managing record
- Gene Mauch at Find a Grave
- Baseball Hall of Fame - 2008 Veterans Committee candidate profile