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Card of the Week: 1973 Topps #593 Jack McKeon MGR

Posted by Andy on June 22, 2011

Jack McKeon is the interim manager of the Florida Marlins right now. This card gives you an idea of just how long he's been managing in baseball. This 1973 Topps card (now 38 years old!) is McKeon's first baseball card and it was issued in his first year as a big-league manager. To put the age of this card in a bit more perspective, keep in mind that hitting coach Charlie Lau passed away 27 years ago (in 1984 at age 50). That 1973 campaign is so long ago, that regarding the Royals McKeon managed that year:

  • John Mayberry's son is now a big-leaguer
  • Lou Piniella retired as a player, became a manager, and retired as a manager
  • Ed Kirkpatrick and Paul Splittorff are deceased
  • Hal McRae retired as a player, his son retired as a player, and McRae retired as a manager

I love the 1973 set. It's well-known for having a lot of great action shots, such as the Johnny Bench card.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011 at 7:21 am and is filed under Card of the Week. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

25 Responses to “Card of the Week: 1973 Topps #593 Jack McKeon MGR”

  1. There's a great action card of Reggie Jackson in that set.

    George Brett made his major league debut in 1973 and he's been retired for 18 years.

  2. When he first managed a game, I was six months old.

  3. John Autin Says:

    Looking at the McKeon's minor-league teammates really gives a picture of the long odds against most players ever making it to the majors.

    Whammy Douglas :) had a career 2.61 ERA in over 1,000 minor-league innings, yet barely got a cup of coffee in the bigs.

    Of course, Jack never made it above class B in his 10 seasons....

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=mckeon001joh

  4. John Autin Says:

    BTW, McKeon's first pro managerial stint came at age 24 with the Fayetteville Highlanders in the Carolina League. I believe that gives him a chance to pass Connie Mack for the longest span from beginning to end of a managerial career in organized ball. As far as I can find out, Mack's first stint came at age 31 with the 1894 Pirates, and he retired at 87.

  5. Another great piece of trivia: He was born the year that Lou Say died. Lou Say played in the barehanded era. (Source: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/steve_rushin/06/22/jack.mckeon/)

  6. @2

    I was a junior in college. Now I'm getting ready to retire.

  7. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    I remember Charlie Lau hitting tip Video commercials in the 80's.
    I think he got credit for both Ventura and Thomas having nice swings, but I could be wrong there.

  8. Lau died in 1984 so I don't think he had any direct contact with Thomas or Ventura. I suspect you are thinking of Walt Hriniak, who followed in Lau's footsteps and taught similar methods.

    Lau's most famous pupil is George Brett, I believe.

  9. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    I couldn't be thinking of Hriniak because I can't pronounce that, JK.
    Yeah, I think he was a pupil of Lau's.

  10. McKeon was a player/manager in the town where I now live - and the first year he was here was in 1956! The team was an affiliate of the Washington Senators - before they moved to Minnesota. That first year he caught 113 of 127 games - with an OBP of .192. Maybe they would have had a better record if the manager had sat down the catcher more often.

    What a strange managerial track. He was a manger from 1955-64; 1968-79; 1988-90:1997-2000; 2003-05; 2010.

  11. My dad was a freshman in college and my mom was in high school when that card came out.

  12. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Did Lau incorporate the coriolis force into his teachings?

  13. I'd have to find it but i looked it up and 6 players off that 1973 Roayls team are now deceased and 98 of the 844 players in the majors that year are now deceased.

  14. Great find...great post!

  15. Unless the conversation extends to coaches, I count six members of the '73 Royals who are deceased; Paul Splittorff, Joe Hoerner, Bruce Dal Canton, Steve Mingori, Jerry May, and Ed Kirkpatrick.

  16. How about this one: just one full season earlier, on Sept 30, 1971, Ducky Schofield played in his final game. His grandson Jayson Werth has been in MLB for 8 years.

  17. Does the back of the card list ALL of the KC coaches that year or are these just the non-base coaches? If so, how did teams ever get by with so few?

  18. There must have been a first and third base coach in addition to the guys on the card. My impression has always been that these base coaches got a lot less attention before the 1990s and that it used to be considered a job that a monkey could do. That's probably why they weren't mentioned on these old cards.

  19. Andy, it's interesting how the card front features the "bench" coaches as little "thumbnails", to get you turn it over.

  20. DoubleDiamond Says:

    @17, @18 - In the 1970s, major league teams generally just had four coaches - pitching, bullpen, 1st base, and 3rd base. If they had more, they could only claim four (other than the manager) for baseball pension purposes. With a lot of the coaches never having made the majors at all, the pension credit was no doubt important to them. And in those days, in order to be pension eligible, a guy had to have four or five years worth of major league service. So getting that credit as a coach was important even to those who had a very brief time as a major league player.

    Thus, I think that the coaches shown with McKeon on this card probably served in the following positions:

    Cisco - Most likely pitching coach, but possibly bullpen coach.

    Dunlop - Probably 1st base or bullpen coach.

    Lau - Probably 3rd base, possibly 1st base, probably not bullpen coach.

    I don't know why this card only shows three coaches other than the manager. Maybe the bullpen coach was not considered important enough to be on the card, or maybe the Royals had not firmed up their coaching staff as of the time that the card was printed.

    By the 1990s, I think, teams had added a hitting coach and a bench coach. I don't know if they are still limited to four coaches for pension credit. For a while in the 1990s and the first decade of the 2000s, the Phillies would cycle some of their career minor league coaches through the 1st base coaching slot in Philadelphia. One beneficiary of this move was Mel Roberts, who played high school ball at Abington, a suburb of Philadelphia. He never played in the majors, but he was their 1st base coach in 1993, the year that the Phillies made it to the World Series somewhat unexpectedly. Roberts was inducted into the Abington High School Hall of Fame but had to miss the ceremony because he was too busy watching Joe Carter homer off Mitch Williams from the visitors' dugout at Sky Dome.

    The 3rd base coach used to be considered to be 2nd in line behind the manager, but now that honor goes to the bench coach.

  21. DoubleDiamond Says:

    1973 was also the year in which the elder Ken Griffey debuted in the major leagues. He's another one who has a now-retired son who had a fairly lengthy major league career.

    The most interesting new manager of 1973 was also born in 1930 (but is now 81 because his birthday is earlier in the year) and was also in that year's American League West configuration - Bobby Winkles of the team then known as the California Angels. Instead of coming up through professional ball as a minor league manager, he came from the collegiate coaching ranks. Until I looked him up a few minutes ago, I thought he had never even played minor league baseball, but it turns out that he did.

    Winkles only last through one season and part of the next with the Angels. Later he took over the Oakland A's during the 1977 season and lasted through part of the following year. Since he departed with a .615 winning percentage after only 39 games (24-15), I'm guessing that he and Charlie O. Finley had some disagreements that led to his departure. And guess who both preceded and followed Winkles in Oakland? That's right - Jack McKeon!

    If Winkles had been a rousing success, we probably would have seen more college coaches moving into the major league managerial ranks. But since he wasn't, this trend did not happen. I can't think of any other major league managers who first made their mark as a college coach.

  22. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I have no idea how the pension credit works, but there is currently a limit on uniformed coaches (six? 1st, 3rd, pitching, batting, bench, bullpen).

  23. Johnny Twisto Says:

    And I think usually one of the base coaches will also be an infield coach. (Is there an outfield coach? I don't recall hearing of that, but I guess it would make sense.)

  24. @20
    Double, what? Charlie Lau not a hitting coach? :-)

    When did he become a hitting guru?

  25. @8 @24
    Andy, if George Brett was Charlie Lau's star pupil, then the answer to my question must be the mid seventies.

    But did the pupil make the teacher or the other way around?