February 12, 2011

Chuck Tanner (1928-2011)

I'm not sure why...but whenever I picture baseball managers, I always think of those from my formative years.

I blame that primarily on the Topps company who, during the 1980s, used to put their grizzled mugs on baseball cards.  Last year, the baseball world lost three managers that appeared in the 1983 Topps card set...Ralph Houk, Clyde King and Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson.

Friday...my heart sunk when I read this tweet from former Los Angeles Dodgers skipper Tommy Lasorda.

Rest in Peace Chuck Tanner. I loved you like a brother. You taught me a lot about managing, and I always appreciated it.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette, the manager of the 1979 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates, died Friday at his home in hospice care after a long illness. 

Tanner was 82.

Prior to his managerial career, Tanner played eight seasons (1955–1962) for four different teams...the Milwaukee Braves, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Angels.  In 396 games, the outfielder batted .261 with 21 home runs.

While with the Braves, Tanner hit a home run in his first big league at-bat on April 12, 1955...the only Braves player to accomplish the feat in Milwaukee.

But he was best known as a manager...having managed four teams from 1970 to 1988.  Over those 19 seasons...Tanner's overall managerial record was 1352-1381.  His 711 with the Pirates ranks him fourth on the franchise's all-time list.

You'll read plenty of quotes from Tanner's former players over the next couple of days...but I think Ed Herrmann (who played for Tanner from 1970 to 1974) summed it up well.

"RIP Chuck Tanner," the former Chicago White Sox catcher posted on his Facebook wall.  "Best 'Players' Manager I ever played for. He was a great man."


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