|Colorado Rockies – No. 11|
|Shortstop / Second baseman /
Manager / Coach
April 17, 1955 |
|August 10, 1985, for the Cincinnati Reds|
|Last MLB appearance|
|June 6, 1986, for the Cincinnati Reds|
|Runs batted in||0|
Thomas William Runnells (born April 17, 1955 in Greeley, Colorado) is the Bench Coach for the Colorado Rockies of Major League Baseball, and a former infielder, coach and manager in American Major League Baseball.
Runnells attended the University of Northern Colorado and originally signed with the San Francisco Giants. He played parts of two seasons (1985–86) with the Cincinnati Reds, appearing in 40 games and batting .174 in 46 at bats without a home run or run batted in. He was a switch hitter who threw right-handed. Runnells began his managerial career with Cincinnati's AA Eastern League affiliate, the Vermont Reds, in 1987. In 1989, his Indianapolis Indians won the American Association championship and the "AAA Classic", earning him a promotion to a coaching position with the parent Montreal Expos.
On June 2, 1991, he was promoted again to manager of the Expos, who were lodged in last place in the National League East Division after 49 games. His time as Expos manager was short but tumultuous. Succeeding the very popular Buck Rodgers, he had trouble establishing his credibility with the media and the team. He was General Manager Dave Dombrowski's hand-picked man but failed to replicate his minor league success as the Expos finished the 1991 season in last place for the first time since 1976. In what became his defining moment, he made an entrance at spring training in 1992 dressed in marine fatigues, apparently trying to channel the spirit of General Norman Schwarzkopf. Everyone who witnessed the performance found it eerily distressing.
He then proceeded to try to shake up the team through various moves. Most notably, he shifted three-time Gold Glove winner Tim Wallach from third base to first base in order to clear a spot in the lineup for recently promoted prospect Bret Barberie. Although Runnells was harshly criticized for moving the popular Wallach, the move appeared to make some sense at the time. Barberie had seen time at all four infield positions while in the minors. However, he was blocked from second base (his best position) by Delino DeShields, didn't have the range to play shortstop, and wasn't physically capable of playing first base. Wallach was 33 years old and his best years appeared to be behind him, so it appeared logical to ease the transition by moving him to first and putting Barberie at third. However, both players got off to sluggish starts in April.
By late May, the players were in open revolt against Runnells. Runnells' position with the front office had become shaky anyway, as Dombrowski had bolted the organization and had been replaced by Dan Duquette, who sacked Runnells on May 22, 1992 in favor of Felipe Alou, who would forge the longest and winningest managerial career in Montreal's history.
With a career major league managing record of 68-81 (.456), Runnells then returned to minor league baseball, managing in the farm systems of the Detroit Tigers and the Colorado Rockies. In the spring of 1995, Runnells managed the Tigers replacement players in spring training during the 1994–95 Major League Baseball strike.
|Team||Year||Regular Season||Post Season|
|Won||Lost||Win %||Finish||Won||Lost||Win %||Result|
|MON||1991||51||61||.455||6th in NL East||-||-||-||-|
|MON||1992||17||20||.459||2nd in NL East||-||-||-||-|
- Rodgers fired as Expos' boss
- Neyer, Rob (2006). Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Blunders. New York City: Fireside. ISBN 0-7432-8491-7.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors), or Venezuelan Professional Baseball League
- Managing record
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|Colorado Springs Sky Sox Manager
|Colorado Rockies Bench Coach