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Whitey Herzog

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Whitey Herzog
Herzog as manager of the Cardinals in 1987
Outfielder / Manager
Born: (1931-11-09)November 9, 1931
New Athens, Illinois, U.S.
Died: April 15, 2024(2024-04-15) (aged 92)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Batted: Left
Threw: Left
MLB debut
April 17, 1956, for the Washington Senators
Last MLB appearance
September 28, 1963, for the Detroit Tigers
MLB statistics
Batting average.257
Home runs25
Runs batted in172
Managerial record1,281–1,125
Winning %.532
As player
As manager
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Baseball Hall of Fame
Election methodVeterans Committee

Dorrel Norman Elvert "Whitey" Herzog (/ˈhɜːrzɒɡ/; November 9, 1931 – April 15, 2024) was an American professional baseball outfielder and manager, most notable for his Major League Baseball (MLB) managerial career.

Herzog made his MLB debut as a player in 1956 with the Washington Senators. After his playing career ended in 1963, Herzog went on to perform a variety of roles in Major League Baseball, including scout, manager, coach, general manager, and farm system director.

As a scout and farm system director, Herzog helped the New York Mets win the 1969 World Series. As a big-league manager, he led the Kansas City Royals to three consecutive playoff appearances from 1976 to 1978. Hired by Gussie Busch in 1980 to helm the St. Louis Cardinals, the team made three World Series appearances, winning the 1982 World Series over the Milwaukee Brewers and falling in 1985 and 1987.

Herzog was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on July 25, 2010, and was inducted into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum on August 16, 2014.

Early life[edit]

Herzog was born on November 9, 1931, in New Athens, Illinois, to Edgar and Lietta Herzog. His father worked at a brewery and his mother at a shoe factory.[1] Whitey attended New Athens High School where he played basketball and baseball. He drew interest from the college basketball programs at Saint Louis University and Illinois. As a youth, Herzog delivered newspapers, sold baked goods from a truck, dug graves, and worked at the brewery with his father.[2] He was known as "Relly" — a diminutive of Dorrel, his given first name.[2]

His older brother Therron played a year of minor league baseball in 1954 in the Cotton States League.[2][3]

Baseball career[edit]

Playing career[edit]

Herzog both batted and threw left-handed.[1] He was originally signed by the New York Yankees by scout Lou Maguolo.[4] While playing for the McAlester Rockets in the Sooner State League in 1949 and 1950, a sportscaster gave Herzog the nickname "Whitey" due to his light blonde hair and resemblance to blonde Yankees pitcher Bob "The White Rat" Kuzava,[2] (rather than the light blonde Yankee starter and future Hall of Famer Whitey Ford, then on the way to a 9–1 rookie season). In 1953, during the Korean War, Herzog served the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, during which time he was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri and managed the camp's baseball team.[2]

While he was still a minor league prospect, the Yankees traded Herzog to the Washington Senators on April 2, 1956, to complete a February trade in which the Yankees had sent Lou Berberet, Bob Wiesler, Dick Tettelbach, and Herb Plews to Washington for Mickey McDermott.[5] He made his major league debut with the Senators in 1956 and played for them until May 15, 1958, when he was sold to the Kansas City Athletics.[6] Before the 1961 season, the Athletics traded Herzog and Russ Snyder to the Baltimore Orioles for Wayne Causey, Jim Archer, Bob Boyd, Clint Courtney, and Al Pilarcik.[7] After the 1962 season, the Orioles traded Herzog and Gus Triandos to the Detroit Tigers for Dick Brown.[8] Herzog retired after playing for the Tigers in the 1963 season.[1] In 634 games spread over eight seasons, Herzog batted .257 with 25 home runs, 172 runs batted in, 213 runs scored, 60 doubles, 20 triples, and 13 stolen bases. In reference to his relative success as a player versus being a manager, Herzog said, "Baseball has been good to me since I quit trying to play it."[9]

Player development[edit]

After his playing career ended, Herzog rejoined the Athletics for two seasons, as a scout in 1964[10][11] and a coach in 1965.[1]

His next seven years were spent with the New York Mets, the first, in 1966, as the third-base coach for manager Wes Westrum. Beginning in 1967 Herzog then made his mark with the club during his six-year tenure as its director of player development. On his watch, the Mets produced young talent that either appeared on one or both of its 1969 and 1973 World Series teams in or were dealt and had successful major league careers elsewhere. Among this crop of players was Gary Gentry, Wayne Garrett, Jon Matlack, John Milner, Amos Otis, and Ken Singleton. Herzog was a candidate to become the Mets' manager after the death of Gil Hodges prior to the 1972 season, but was passed over in favor of first-base coach Yogi Berra, a future Yankee Hall of Fame catcher and brief ex-Met player, by chairman of the board M. Donald Grant.[12] He had been ordered to not attend Hodges' funeral by Grant's associates to avoid speculation.[13]

Managerial career[edit]

Rangers and Angels[edit]

Perceiving Grant's actions as a snub,[12] Herzog left the Mets to accept the first managerial assignment of his career. On November 2, 1972, he signed a two-year contract to lead the Texas Rangers, the only MLB team to have 100 losses in 1972. Hired based on recommendations from general manager Joe Burke to owner Bob Short, he'd been given the understanding that he was to help develop the team's young prospects.[14] He immediately abandoned the platoon system used heavily by his predecessor Ted Williams.[15]

Herzog debuted with a 3–1 Rangers loss to the Chicago White Sox at Arlington Stadium on April 7, 1973. His first victory was a 4–0 triumph over the Kansas City Royals five nights later on April 12 at Royals Stadium.[16]

He never got the chance to finish the 1973 season. With the team at 47–91,[16] he was fired on September 7, three days after a home field 14–0 defeat at Comiskey Park.[14] Coach Del Wilber replaced him for one game, followed by Billy Martin, who had been fired by the Detroit Tigers on August 30.[17] Short defended the change by telling reporters, "If my mother were managing the Rangers and I had the opportunity to hire Billy Martin, I'd fire my mother."[14]

Herzog joined the California Angels as their third-base coach in 1974. He was named the team's interim manager on June 27, 1974, the same day that his predecessor Bobby Winkles was fired and also Hall of Fame bound successor Dick Williams was hired.[18] The first game he managed was a 5–0 win for the Angels, who split a four-game weekend series against the Rangers at Anaheim Stadium during his brief 4-game stint.[19][20]

Kansas City Royals[edit]

Herzog succeeded Jack McKeon as manager of the Kansas City Royals on July 24, 1975, and managed the team from 1975 to 1979. At the time he took over in 1975, the team was in second place in the American League West but trailed the defending and eventual division champion Oakland Athletics by 11 games.[21] The Royals went on to win three straight American League Western division titles from 1976 to 1978. However, each of those seasons ended with losses to the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series, with each one having their own particular brand of sting. In the 1976 American League Championship Series, the two teams traded wins to see an even series by the time of the decisive Game 5 in New York. The Royals trailed by three runs in the eighth before rallying to tie the game. On the first pitch of the bottom of the ninth, Chris Chambliss hit a series-ending walk off home run off closer Mark Littell. In the 1977 series, the teams traded wins again in the first four, but the Royals had a chance to clinch it at home. Game 5 saw them lead 3–1 going into the eighth inning, but the Yankees narrowed it to a run with a pinch-hit RBI. Now going with Dennis Leonard (who had pitched a complete game two days earlier), it all sputtered. He allowed a hit and a walk before being pulled, but the Yankees continued to hit the ball and scored three runs in the inning before Kansas City went down in the bottom half as the Yankees went to the World Series again. In the 1978 series, the Royals won Game 2 and played competitive in Game 3, but Herzog's decision to go with Doug Bird in the eighth inning to face Thurman Munson resulted in him belting a go-ahead two-run shot as the Yankees won 6-5. The Royals scored a run in first inning of Game 4 but the Yankees led by the end of the 5th and never looked back in a 2-1 victory.

Herzog and general manager Joe Burke clashed during the 1979 season over personnel moves, and he openly chafed at being offered one-year contracts by owner Ewing Kauffman, who in turn did not like the treatment given to first baseman John Mayberry, whose lackadaisical play in Game 4 of the 1977 series had led to Herzog benching him for Game 5 before blaming him for the series loss and then demanding him to be traded.[22] After the 1979 season saw the team finish second to the California Angels, Herzog was fired, and he actually expressed criticism of Burke for not doing it sooner to try and give the team a spark during the season.[23]

St. Louis Cardinals[edit]

On June 8, 1980, Herzog was hired by St. Louis Cardinals (under general manager John Claiborne) to manage the team to replace Ken Boyer. Herzog was quoted almost immediately as the leader when asked, stating “I’m going to take this dang team and run it like I think it should be run. I don’t think I’ve ever had trouble with players hustling. I understand that’s been a problem here. I think you’ll see the Cardinals running out groundballs.”[24] He won the 1982 World Series, and both won the National League pennant and appeared in the Series again in 1985 and 1987.

Herzog's style of play, based on the strategy of attrition, was nicknamed "Whiteyball"[25] and concentrated on pitching, speed, and defense to win games rather than on home runs. Herzog's lineups generally consisted of one or more base-stealing threats at the top of the lineup, with a power threat such as George Brett or Jack Clark hitting third or fourth, protected by one or two productive hitters, followed by more base stealers. This tactic kept payrolls low, while allowing Herzog to win consistently in stadiums with deep fences and artificial turf, both of which were characteristics of Royals Stadium (now Kauffman Stadium) and Busch Memorial Stadium during his managerial career.

A less noticed (at the time) aspect of Herzog's offensive philosophy was his preference for patient hitters with high on-base percentages:[26] such players included Royals Brett, Hal McRae, and Amos Otis, and Cardinals Clark, Keith Hernandez, José Oquendo, and Ozzie Smith, as well as Darrell Porter, who played for Herzog in both Kansas City and St. Louis. However, in St. Louis, Herzog also employed free-swinging hitters who were less patient, but speedy runners and fielders, such as six-time NL stolen base champion Vince Coleman and 1985 NL MVP Willie McGee.

Herzog's final season with the Cardinals, and in his managerial career, was the 1990 season; he resigned on July 6 of that year with the team at 33–47 and in last place in the NL East. He jokingly stated, "I came here in last place and I leave here in last place. I left them right where I started."[27] His overall Cardinals record is 822 wins and 728 losses.[28]

General managing career[edit]

With his extensive background in player development, Herzog also was a major league general manager with both the Cardinals (1980–82)[29] and the California Angels (1993–94).[30]

Herzog succeeded interim skipper Jack Krol as manager of the Cardinals on June 9, 1980,[31] managed for 73 games, then moved into the club's front office as GM on August 26, turning the team over to Red Schoendienst. During the offseason, Herzog reclaimed the manager job, then held both the GM and field manager posts with St. Louis for almost two full seasons, during which he acquired or promoted many players who would star on the Cardinals' three World Series teams of the 1980s.[29] In a 1983 poll of MLB players by The New York Times, Herzog was voted best manager in baseball.[32]

Herzog served as general manager of the California Angels from 1993 to 1994.[33] During his tenure, the Angels went 118–159, missing the 1993 postseason (with the 1994 playoffs cancelled due to a players' strike).[34]

Herzog's tenure was overshadowed by a feud with owner Jackie Autry over the team's budget constraints, a power struggle with team Vice-President Dave O'Brien, and the loss of key free agents like Dave Winfield and Wally Joyner.[33]

Later years[edit]

Herzog expressed an interest in becoming President of the National League when that job opened in 1986.[35] The role eventually went to Yale University President A. Bartlett Giamatti, who also became the Commissioner of baseball in 1989. In a nationally televised interview on NBC, after Giamatti accepted the job of NL President, Marv Albert jokingly asked Herzog if he would be interested in the job opening for president of Yale University. Herzog replied, "Well, you're trying to be funny now, Marv. I don't think that's funny at all."[36]

Both Herzog and Jim Leyland were candidates to become manager of the Boston Red Sox following the 1996 season. Both rejected offers from the Red Sox, so the team hired Jimy Williams instead.[37]

Managerial record and legacy[edit]

Whitey Herzog's number 24 was retired by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2010.

Herzog was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans' Committee on December 7, 2009, receiving 14 of a possible 16 votes.[38] The Cardinals retired the jersey number 24, which he wore during his managerial tenure with the club, following his induction.[39] Rick Ankiel was the last Cardinal to wear number 24.

In total, Herzog led six division winners, three pennant winners, and one World Series winner in compiling a 1,281–1,125 (.532) career record.[40]

Team Year Regular season Postseason
Games Won Lost Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
TEX 1973 138 47 91 .341 Fired
CAL 1974 4 2 2 .562 interim
KC 1975 66 41 25 .621 2nd in AL West
KC 1976 162 90 72 .556 1st in AL West 2 3 .400 Lost ALCS (NYY)
KC 1977 162 102 60 .630 1st in AL West 2 3 .400 Lost ALCS (NYY)
KC 1978 162 92 70 .568 1st in AL West 1 3 .250 Lost ALCS (NYY)
KC 1979 162 85 77 .525 2nd in AL West
KC total 714 410 304 .574 5 9 .357
STL 1980 73 38 35 .521 4th in NL East - - -
STL 1981 51 30 20 .600 2nd in NL East
52 29 23 .558 2nd in NL East
STL 1982 162 92 70 .568 1st in NL East 7 3 .700 Won World Series (MIL)
STL 1983 162 79 83 .488 4th in NL East - - -
STL 1984 162 84 78 .519 3rd in NL East - - -
STL 1985 162 101 61 .623 1st in NL East 7 6 .538 Lost World Series (KC)
STL 1986 161 79 82 .491 3rd in NL East - - -
STL 1987 162 95 67 .586 1st in NL East 7 7 .500 Lost World Series (MIN)
STL 1988 162 76 86 .469 5th in NL East - - -
STL 1989 164 86 76 .531 3rd in NL East - - -
STL 1990 80 33 47 .413 Resigned - - -
STL total 1,553 822 728 .530 21 16 .568
Total [41] 2,409[a] 1,281 1,125 .532 26 25 .510

Personal life[edit]

Herzog married his high school sweetheart, Mary Lou (née Sinn), in 1953. They had three children.[1]

Herzog resided in St. Louis, Missouri. His younger brother, Codell ("Butz") died on February 20, 2010, at 76. He made out Whitey's first lineup with the Cardinals in 1980.[42] His grandson John Urick was a minor league first baseman and outfielder from 2003 until 2010 who played for managers and former Herzog-era Cardinals Garry Templeton and Hal Lanier.[43][44]

In January 2014, the Cardinals announced Herzog among 22 former players and personnel to be inducted into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum for the inaugural class of 2014.[45]

Herzog died in St. Louis on April 15, 2024, at the age of 92.[46] Upon his death, Commissioner Rob Manfred released a statement:

Whitey Herzog was one of the most accomplished managers of his generation and a consistent winner with both 'I-70' franchises. He made a significant impact on the St. Louis Cardinals as both a manager and a general manager, with the Kansas City Royals as a manager and with the New York Mets in player development. Whitey's Cardinals' teams reached the World Series three times in the 1980s, winning the championship in 1982, by leaning on an identity of speed and defense that resonated with baseball fans across the world. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to Whitey's family, his friends across the game and the fans of the Cardinals and the Royals.[47]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Foldes, Adam (June 1, 2019). "Whitey Herzog". sabr.org. Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved September 25, 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e O'Neill, Dan (July 18, 2010). "Whitey Herzog: The pride of New Athens". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved October 27, 2017.
  3. ^ "Therron Herzog Minor League Statistics & History". Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved October 27, 2017.
  4. ^ Spearie, Steven. "Collection of 'quiet, unassuming' baseball scout now in Cooperstown". The State Journal-Register.
  5. ^ "Senators Get Whitey Herzog". The Waco Times-Herald. April 2, 1956. p. 11 – via newspapers.com.
  6. ^ "Senators Sell Herzog To A's". The Daily Times. May 15, 1958. p. 15 – via newspapers.com.
  7. ^ "Athletics Ship Trio to Orioles For Five; Causey Key to Trade". The Times. January 25, 1961. p. 11 – via newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "Birds Get Dick Brown From Tigers In Exchange For Triandos, Herzog". The Daily Times. November 26, 1962. p. 20 – via newspapers.com.
  9. ^ Liebman, Glenn (March 1992). "Here Are Some New Names for Humor Hall of Fame". Baseball Digest: 23.
  10. ^ Peterson, John E. (2003). The Kansas City Athletics: A Baseball History, 1954–1967. McFarland. p. 308. ISBN 0-7864-1610-6.
  11. ^ Launius, Roger D. (2002). Seasons in the Sun. University of Missouri Press. p. 124. ISBN 0-8262-1392-8.
  12. ^ a b Sandomir, Richard "Leaving Mets Put Herzog on a Path to the Hall" The New York Times, Saturday, July 24, 2010
  13. ^ Burns, James H. "Baseball Legend Whitey Herzog Goes to the Hall; Should He Go (Back) to the Mets, Too?" The Village Voice (New York, NY), December 14, 2009. Retrieved October 11, 2022.
  14. ^ a b c Rogers, Phil. The Impossible Takes A Little Longer. Dallas, Texas: Taylor Publishing Company, 1990.
  15. ^ "Texas Rangers Name Herzog Manager," United Press International (UPI), Thursday, November 2, 1972. Retrieved April 26, 2020
  16. ^ a b "1973 Texas Rangers Schedule". Baseball-Reference.com.
  17. ^ Buck, Ray "Stop in Arlington was first in Whitey Herzog's road to Cooperstown" Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Saturday, July 24, 2010
  18. ^ "Williams Will Manage Angels On 3-Year Pact; Winkles Out," The Associated Press (AP), Thursday, June 27, 1974. Retrieved December 23, 2008.
  19. ^ McGowen, Deane. "The Other Perry Logs Victory No. 200," The New York Times, Friday, June 28, 1974. Retrieved October 11, 2022.
  20. ^ "Hall of Fame skipper Herzog has minor stroke," Reuters, Tuesday, September 17, 2019. Retrieved October 11, 2022.
  21. ^ "Royals Fire McKeon, Hire Herzog," The Associated Press (AP), Friday, July 25, 1975. Retrieved April 26, 2020
  22. ^ "Whitey Herzog Defined an Era, but He Was Ahead of His Time". April 19, 2024.
  23. ^ "The Big Cheese of the Cardinals".
  24. ^ "Why Cardinals wanted Whitey Herzog in, Ken Boyer out". June 8, 2020.
  25. ^ O'Hearn, Michael (2007). The Story of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Creative Company. p. 44. ISBN 978-1-58341-551-1.
  26. ^ Newhan, Ross (July 5, 1987). "A Deep Team Rises to Top Despite Injuries, Cardinals Are Flying High and Leading NL East". Los Angeles Times. p. Sports 3.
  27. ^ https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/sports/1990/07/07/herzog-quits-cardinals-were-so-damn-bad/c17c3f68-d46e-44a1-b4e2-ab577d5bf80e/
  28. ^ Hummel, Rick. "Herzog Quits as Cardinal Manager," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sunday, July 8, 1990. Retrieved April 26, 2020
  29. ^ a b "Cards' Herzog in Dual Role". The New York Times. October 25, 1980. p. 18.
  30. ^ "Angels GM Herzog Out in Surprise Resignation : Sports: He promised World Series win but team fell far short. Assistant General Manager Bill Bavasi will move up". Los Angeles Times. January 12, 1994.
  31. ^ "Cards Drop Boyer And Name Herzog; Worst Record in Majors". The New York Times. June 9, 1980. p. C7.
  32. ^ Durso, Joseph (July 4, 1983). "The Players' Choice: Dawson". The New York Times. Retrieved October 27, 2017.
  33. ^ a b Nightengale, Bob (January 12, 1994). "Angels GM Herzog Out in Surprise Resignation : Sports: He promised World Series win but team fell far short. Assistant General Manager Bill Bavasi will move up". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 1, 2023.
  34. ^ "Los Angeles Angels Team History & Encyclopedia". baseball-reference.com. Sports-Reference, LLC. Retrieved April 1, 2023.
  35. ^ "Will Herzog Be Next N.L. President?". San Jose Mercury News. May 3, 1986. p. 8E.
  36. ^ "Whitey Herzog / Marv Albert – 1986". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021.
  37. ^ "Red Sox hire Jimy Williams". St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press. November 20, 1996. p. 6C.
  38. ^ Hummel, Rick (December 7, 2009). "Herzog gets call to enter the Hall of Fame". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Archived from the original on December 12, 2009. Retrieved March 16, 2023.
  39. ^ HUMMEL, RICK (July 23, 2010). "Cardinals retire Herzog's No. 24". STLtoday.com.
  40. ^ "Whitey Herzog". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  41. ^ "Whitey Herzog". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved April 22, 2024.
  42. ^ Herzog's brother dies; gave Whitey his first Cards lineup Archived February 24, 2010, at the Wayback Machine (February 21, 2010)
  43. ^ Witz, Billy (September 11, 2010). "Another Branch in a Baseball Family". The New York Times. Retrieved May 11, 2014.
  44. ^ "John Urick at baseball-reference.com". Retrieved May 11, 2014.
  45. ^ Cardinals Press Release (January 18, 2014). "Cardinals establish Hall of Fame & detail induction process". www.stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com. Retrieved January 29, 2014.
  46. ^ "Whitey Herzog, innovative manager, Cardinals champion and creator of 'Whiteyball,' dies at 92". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. April 16, 2024. Retrieved April 16, 2024.
  47. ^ Denton, John (April 17, 2024). "Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog passes away at 92". MLB.com.
  1. ^ Herzog also managed in three games that ended in ties - one in 1981 and two in 1989

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by St. Louis Cardinals General Manager
Succeeded by
Preceded by California Angels General Manager
Succeeded by