Coleman as a Boston Brave (1943–45)
|Catcher / Coach / Manager|
September 26, 1890|
|Died: July 16, 1959
|June 13, 1913, for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 9, 1916, for the Cleveland Indians|
|Runs batted in||27|
|Career highlights and awards|
Robert Hunter Coleman (September 26, 1890 – July 16, 1959) was an American catcher, coach and manager in Major League Baseball. He also was one of the most successful managers in the history of minor league baseball, his career extending (with interruptions caused by Major League service) from 1919 through 1957; he won 10 regular season pennants and 5 league titles. He won his first pennant with the 1922 Terre Haute Tots of the Three-I League, he also won a pennant with the 1935 Springfield Senators, also of the Three-I League. The rest of his titles came with the Evansville, Indiana, franchises in the Three-I League.
A native of Huntingburg, Indiana, Coleman played just three seasons in the Major Leagues, with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1913–14) and the Cleveland Indians (1916). The right-handed-hitting catcher batted .241 in 116 total games.
In 1919, at age 28, he embarked on his managerial career with the Mobile Bears of the Class A Southern Association. By 1926 he was a coach for the Boston Red Sox, but the following season he returned to the minor leagues, and in 1928 he became manager of the Evansville Hubs of the Class B Three-I League, where he would spend much of the rest of his baseball career. He managed Evansville for 20 seasons over four separate tours of duty (1928–31; 1938–42; 1946–49; 1951–57), and won eight pennants there (1930, 1938, 1941, 1949, 1952, 1954, 1956 and 1957) including his final season.
Coleman made it back to the Majors as a coach with the Detroit Tigers in 1932, and the Boston Braves in 1943. During the 1943 season, his boss, manager Casey Stengel, suffered a broken leg when he was hit by a taxicab as he tried to cross a Boston street on April 20. Coleman stepped in for 46 games, through June 17, while Stengel recovered (the Braves winning 21). At season's end, Casey was fired and Coleman was named permanent manager of the Braves for 1944. But the wartime Braves were not contenders and after a sixth-place 1944 finish was followed by a sluggish start to 1945, Coleman was replaced by one of his coaches, Del Bissonette. His final record as a Major League manager was 128–165 (.437).
He then returned to Evansville as manager of the Evansville Braves, a Boston farm team, and resumed his minor league career. In 35 seasons as a minor league skipper, Coleman's teams won 2,496 games and lost 2,103 (.543).
- Lloyd Johnson, ed., The Minor League Register. Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America, 1994.
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