The Colonels' first manager was Denny Mack. Mack managed the team for one season (1882), in which he led the Colonels to a record of 38 wins and 42 losses. Fred Clarke was the Colonels' last manager. Clarke took over as player-manager of the team during the 1897 season, and managed the team through the 1899 season while also playing as an outfielder for the Colonels. Clarke was one of the players transferred to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1900, as were Honus Wagner, Tommy Leach, Claude Ritchey and Deacon Phillippe. Clarke took over as the Pirates' player-manager, and after a second-place finish in 1900, he led the Pirates, with the former Colonels stars, to three consecutive league pennants in 1901, 1902, 1903, and a World Series championship in 1909. Clarke was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945, the only Colonels' manager so honored. The Colonels won their only Major League pennant when they had the best record in the American Association in 1890. They played to a tie in the World Series that season against the National League champion Brooklyn Bridegrooms; each team won three games and there was one tie game.[a]Jack Chapman was the Colonels' manager that season.
Clarke holds the Colonels' record for games managed (402), managerial wins (180), and managerial losses (212).Mike Walsh, who managed the team in 1884, has the highest winning percentage of any Colonels' manager, at .630. The only other two managers who had winning percentages over .500 for the Colonels are Mack and Joe Gerhardt, who managed the team in 1883. The only Colonels' manager who served more than one term was Mordecai Davidson, who served two terms during the 1888 season while he was also the team's owner. Davidson replaced John Kelly for three games before being replaced by John Kerins. After Kerins managed the Colonels for seven games, Davidson took over again for the final 90 games of the season. Davidson's total managerial record with the Colonels was 93 games managed with 35 wins and 54 losses, for a winning percentage of .393.
a Although the Colonels played in the tournament called the World Series in 1890, the 19th-century World Series was a different event from the current World Series, which began in 1903. The 19th-century World Series was considered an exhibition contest between the champion of the National League and the champion of the American Association. The Colonels tied the Brooklyn Bridegrooms in the 1890 World Series.