There are many paths in baseball to the Hall of Fame. A man can be enshrined as a player, a manager, or an owner, among other things. Interestingly, though, candidates who both played and managed don’t have these achievements judged together. Were rules different, a few more men might have plaques.
Currently, a backlog exists of baseball figures who both played and managed well, but perhaps didn’t achieve enough in either arena to earn a plaque. My idea is a hybrid wing of the Hall of Fame, where men could be inducted on the strength of both their playing and managerial careers. It seems reasonable that a man be considered for the sum of his contributions to baseball. This could also help the Hall of Fame honor more managers, since just 25 have been enshrined.
Here are eight men who could be inducted this way:
Charlie Grimm: One of those names I once figured was already in Cooperstown– as a player or a manager. Grimm compiled 2,229 hits and a .290 lifetime batting average in 20 seasons and was a longtime first baseman for the Cubs. He became a player-manager for them near the end of his playing career and ultimately posted a managerial record of 1287-1067 with three National League pennants.
Steve O’Neill: O’Neill had a 17-year career as a catcher and then did his best work as a manager. In 14 years with four clubs, O’Neill was 1040-821 and led the Tigers to the 1945 World Series championship. An ad on O’Neill’s Baseball-Reference.com page says he and Joe McCarthy are the only two managers to never post a losing record.
Jimmy Dykes: Dykes went 1406-1541 managing six clubs and prior to this was a longtime player with 2,256 hits, a .280 lifetime batting average, and two All Star appearances, a memorable baseball character in either capacity.
Gil Hodges: Of the men listed here, the iconic Dodgers first baseman might come closest on playing merit alone, hitting 374 home runs, making eight All Star teams, and being one of the greatest defensive players at his position all-time. I’m including Hodges because when his Hall of Fame case is brought up, people tend to invariably mention him managing the 1969 World Series champion Mets. It’s what inspired this post.
Al Dark: Like Hodges, Dark won a World Series as both a player and a manager, hitting .293 with 20 home runs for the champion Giants in 1954 and leading the A’s to a title 20 years later. In all, Dark had 2,089 hits, a .289 lifetime average, and three All Star appearances as a player, and he went 994-954 as a manager.
Dusty Baker: Baker hit 242 home runs in 19 seasons and has followed with a 17-year managerial career, winning at least 88 games eight times and compiling a 1386-1266 record. He comes nowhere close to the Hall of Fame as a player, and I suspect when he is considered as a manager, two things will doom him: 1) He hasn’t won a World Series; 2) He supposedly wrecked some young pitchers. All of this is unfortunate, because it’s time Cooperstown celebrated a modern black manager.
Felipe Alou: Similar to Baker, Alou had a long, if essentially unspectacular playing career, finishing with 2,101 hits, 206 home runs, and a .286 batting average. Nearly two decades after he retired, Alou resurfaced as the sagacious manager of the Montreal Expos and spent 14 years as a skipper in the majors, going 1033-1021.
Jim Fregosi: Early in his career, Fregosi was among the best shortstops in baseball, making six All Star teams and winning a Gold Glove. His career went downhill after he was traded for Nolan Ryan in December 1971. Fregosi served mostly as a bench player his final seven seasons before retiring in 1978, finishing with 1,726 hits and a .265 career batting average. He later was 1028-1095 as a manager, with one World Series appearance.
Related: A compilation of Cooperstown posts