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Ralph Houk, 90, Passes Away

Posted by Steve Lombardi on July 21, 2010

Via the Managers Page at B-R.com, we see more about "The Major," Ralph Houk and where he ranks in terms of the great baseball managers.

First, the Top 26 Managers, all-time, in terms of career wins:

Rk Mgr   Yrs From To G W 6 L W-L% G>.500 BestFin WrstFin AvRk Plyof App WSwon PennWon ASG Player/Manager
1 Connie Mack HOF as player 53 1894 1950 7755 3731 3948 .486 -217 1 8 4.9 8 5 9 1 plyr/mgr: 1894-1896
2 John McGraw HOF as player 33 1899 1932 4769 2763 1948 .586 815 1 8 2.6 9 3 10 1 plyr/mgr: 1899-1906
3 Tony LaRussa as player 32 1979 2010 4866 2605 2258 .536 347 1 7 2.6 13 2 5 5  
4 Bobby Cox as player 29 1978 2010 4439 2468 1968 .556 500 1 6 2.3 15 1 5 5  
5 Joe Torre as player 29 1977 2010 4261 2295 1960 .539 335 1 6 2.4 15 4 6 6 plyr/mgr: 1977
6 Sparky Anderson HOF as player 26 1970 1995 4030 2194 1834 .545 360 1 7 2.9 7 3 5 5  
7 Bucky Harris HOF as player 29 1924 1956 4410 2158 2219 .493 -61 1 7 4.8 3 2 3 1 plyr/mgr: 1924-1931
8 Joe McCarthy HOF   24 1926 1950 3487 2125 1333 .615 792 1 4 2.0 9 7 9 7  
9 Walter Alston HOF as player 23 1954 1976 3658 2040 1613 .558 427 1 8 2.9 7 4 7 9  
10 Leo Durocher HOF as player 24 1939 1973 3739 2008 1709 .540 299 1 10 3.2 3 1 3 4 plyr/mgr: 1939-1945
11 Casey Stengel HOF as player 25 1934 1965 3766 1905 1842 .508 63 1 10 4.4 10 7 10 10  
12 Gene Mauch as player 26 1960 1987 3942 1902 2037 .483 -135 1 8 4.6 2 0 0 1  
13 Bill McKechnie HOF as player 25 1915 1946 3647 1896 1723 .524 173 1 8 4.0 4 2 4 2 plyr/mgr: 1915
14 Lou Piniella as player 23 1986 2010 3518 1827 1691 .519 136 1 5 2.7 7 1 1 1  
15 Ralph Houk as player 20 1961 1984 3157 1619 1531 .514 88 1 10 4.4 3 2 3 3  
16 Fred Clarke HOF as player 19 1897 1915 2829 1602 1181 .576 421 1 11 3.7 2 1 4 0 plyr/mgr: 1897-1915
17 Tom Lasorda HOF as player 21 1976 1996 3041 1599 1439 .526 160 1 6 2.5 7 2 4 4  
18 Dick Williams HOF as player 21 1967 1988 3023 1571 1451 .520 120 1 7 3.2 5 2 4 4  
19 Clark Griffith HOF as player 20 1901 1920 2918 1491 1367 .522 124 1 8 4.2 0 0 1 0 plyr/mgr: 1901-1914
20 Earl Weaver HOF   17 1968 1986 2541 1480 1060 .583 420 1 7 2.2 6 1 4 4  
21 Jim Leyland   19 1986 2010 2943 1460 1481 .496 -21 1 6 3.3 5 1 2 2  
22 Miller Huggins HOF as player 17 1913 1929 2570 1413 1134 .555 279 1 8 3.2 6 3 6 0 plyr/mgr: 1913-1916
23 Al Lopez HOF as player 17 1951 1969 2425 1410 1004 .584 406 1 8 2.4 2 0 2 5  
24 Jimmy Dykes as player 21 1934 1961 2962 1406 1541 .477 -135 3 8 5.1 0 0 0 0 plyr/mgr: 1934-1939
25 Wilbert Robinson HOF as player 19 1902 1931 2819 1399 1398 .500 1 1 8 4.8 2 0 2 0 plyr/mgr: 1902
26 Dusty Baker as player 17 1993 2010 2623 1367 1255 .521 112 1 6 2.8 4 0 1 1  
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/21/2010.

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So, only 14 men have won more games than Houk as a big league skipper. And, Ralph was one of only 22 major league managers in history, to date, to win more than one World Series ring:

Rk Mgr   Yrs From To G W L W-L% G>.500 BestFin WrstFin AvRk Plyof App WSwon 6 PennWon ASG Player/Manager
1 Casey Stengel HOF as player 25 1934 1965 3766 1905 1842 .508 63 1 10 4.4 10 7 10 10  
2 Joe McCarthy HOF   24 1926 1950 3487 2125 1333 .615 792 1 4 2.0 9 7 9 7  
3 Connie Mack HOF as player 53 1894 1950 7755 3731 3948 .486 -217 1 8 4.9 8 5 9 1 plyr/mgr: 1894-1896
4 Joe Torre as player 29 1977 2010 4261 2295 1960 .539 335 1 6 2.4 15 4 6 6 plyr/mgr: 1977
5 Walter Alston HOF as player 23 1954 1976 3658 2040 1613 .558 427 1 8 2.9 7 4 7 9  
6 John McGraw HOF as player 33 1899 1932 4769 2763 1948 .586 815 1 8 2.6 9 3 10 1 plyr/mgr: 1899-1906
7 Miller Huggins HOF as player 17 1913 1929 2570 1413 1134 .555 279 1 8 3.2 6 3 6 0 plyr/mgr: 1913-1916
8 Sparky Anderson HOF as player 26 1970 1995 4030 2194 1834 .545 360 1 7 2.9 7 3 5 5  
9 Dick Williams HOF as player 21 1967 1988 3023 1571 1451 .520 120 1 7 3.2 5 2 4 4  
10 Billy Southworth HOF as player 13 1929 1951 1770 1044 704 .597 340 1 4 2.4 4 2 4 3 plyr/mgr: 1929
11 James Mutrie   9 1883 1891 1114 658 419 .611 239 1 6 2.8 3 2 3 0  
12 Danny Murtaugh as player 15 1957 1976 2068 1115 950 .540 165 1 8 3.3 5 2 2 3  
13 Bill McKechnie HOF as player 25 1915 1946 3647 1896 1723 .524 173 1 8 4.0 4 2 4 2 plyr/mgr: 1915
14 Tom Lasorda HOF as player 21 1976 1996 3041 1599 1439 .526 160 1 6 2.5 7 2 4 4  
15 Tony LaRussa as player 32 1979 2010 4866 2605 2258 .536 347 1 7 2.6 13 2 5 5  
16 Tom Kelly as player 16 1986 2001 2386 1140 1244 .478 -104 1 7 3.8 2 2 2 2  
17 Ralph Houk as player 20 1961 1984 3157 1619 1531 .514 88 1 10 4.4 3 2 3 3  
18 Bucky Harris HOF as player 29 1924 1956 4410 2158 2219 .493 -61 1 7 4.8 3 2 3 1 plyr/mgr: 1924-1931
19 Cito Gaston as player 12 1989 2010 1663 857 806 .515 51 1 5 2.9 4 2 2 2  
20 Terry Francona as player 11 1997 2010 1714 903 811 .527 92 1 5 2.8 5 2 2 2  
21 Frank Chance HOF as player 11 1905 1923 1622 946 648 .593 298 1 8 3.1 4 2 4 0 plyr/mgr: 1905-1914
22 Bill Carrigan as player 7 1913 1929 1003 489 500 .494 -11 1 8 4.6 2 2 2 0 plyr/mgr: 1913-1916
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/21/2010.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 at 9:35 pm and is filed under Site Features. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

17 Responses to “Ralph Houk, 90, Passes Away”

  1. Johnny Twisto Says:

    A friend and I were putting together a best of the living Yankees team last year, and I was shocked to find out that Houk was still alive. You never heard about him, very odd for a guy who was quite successful for a team which loves to play up its history.

    I suppose he is most famous for managing the great 1961 Yankees. That was his first season, after Stengel had been let go. I think Houk was one of the first managers to move to a set starting rotation (please correct me if I'm wrong). For most of baseball history, there wasn't really a rotation. There were a few guys who would mostly start, and managers would often try matching up their best pitchers in big games, and then there were a couple swingmen who would fill in when needed. The change between Stengel and Houk is striking when you look at Whitey Ford's career line. Stengel made a point of matching Ford up against the Yankees' tougher competition. Houk had him go every four days. Under Stengel, Ford never had more than 33 starts or 253 IP, and came out of the pen a few times a year. In '61, he pitched 39 times, all starts, 283 IP. In '60 he would pitch on 1 day rest, 2 days, 6 days.... In '61 he never pitched on fewer than 3 days' rest, which he did 27 times.

    I believe Houk also GM'd a bit when the Yankees started screwing around with their managers as the dynasty began to crumble, but I'm too lazy to look it up right now.

  2. Houk, love the Yankees or hate them, was a proessional, first and foremost -- the Joe McCarthy of his era. A "Ralph Houk and the Hall of Fame" blog would be fitting here.

  3. Does anybody know why Houk played so few games in his career?

  4. Yogi Berra was a big reason Houk didn't play often. Houk took over as manager when the Yankee organization was beginning cost-cutting measures. They reduced the number of farm teams and cut their scouting expenses, also. Houk became G.M. in 1964, and the cupboard was pretty bare. Topping and Webb sold the team to CBS. The Yankees collapsed under Johnny Keane in 1965 and 66, and the dynasty was gone. Prospects like Steve Whitaker, Roger Repoz, and Jerry Kenney didn't pan out, and Bobby Murcer was lost to the Army for two years. Houk came back as manager in 1966, and actually had a few decent seasons in his second go-around with the club.

  5. Detroit Michael Says:

    Yogi Berra was pretty durable, even if Houk could have consistently beaten out Charlie Silvera for back-up duties.

  6. I can't believe a team kept a guy on the roster to play SO FEW games. It's crazy.

  7. He was pretty much a bullpen coach. Dave Ricketts did the same thing with the Cardinals for a couple of years, finished with the Pirates, then retired and went right back to the Cardinals' bullpen.

  8. Bryan Mueller Says:

    Does anybody know when the last instance of a manager using himself as a player was? I remember Pete Rose (I think) but for some reason I was thinking there was someone more recent than that.

  9. joe baseball Says:

    Pete Rose was the last from 84-86, Joe Torre played a little in 1977 for the Mets,
    Frank Robinson in 75-76 and Don Kessinger in 1979. Rose and Robinson were player managers for full seasons while Torre retired as a player shortly after becoming manager playing only 2 games and Kessinger lasting only 106 games as player/manager and never playing or managing again.

  10. Well, anyone waiting to complete the "They die in 3's" for the Yanks, here we are.

    RIP Bob Sheppard, George Steinbrenner, Ralph Houk

  11. Tmckelv - I think that Houk actually completed the superfecta. Former Yankee SS Frank Verdi kicked things off by kicking the bucket on July 9. His death triggered this horrible bloodbath.

    Thankfully, Yogi Berra looked the grim reaper in the eye and told him it wasn't his time.

  12. Ah. Frank "Moonlight" Verdi. Ol' Number 44 for the Yankees.

    From his obituary:
    Compared to playing 1,916 games in the minors, his only appearance in the majors lasted less than two innings. He had replaced Phil Rizzuto at shortstop in a 1953 game in Boston, and manager Casey Stengel pinch-hit for him after he had stepped into the batter's box. Verdi managed in the minors for 24 years, the last in Sioux Falls, Iowa, where he returned to the dugout after being hospitalized by a heart attack.

  13. I had never looked at Whitey Ford's stats enough to see how few games he started compared to other pitchers at that time. What was Casey thinking?? Whitey's highest total of innings pitched in the 50's was 253 2/3, Robin Roberts's LOWEST total of innings pitched in the 50's was 249 2/3!

  14. [...] is 15th all-time in managerial wins, and one of only 22 managers with more than one World Championship. He [...]

  15. Houk should probably be in the HOF as a manger, as should Danny Murtaugh. These two guys are the only managers in history with over 1,000 career wins, a .500 winning percentage, and at least 2 World Series titles that aren't in the HOF (and aren't still managing).

  16. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Mark, as I said Stengel was matching Ford up against the tougher competition (Cleveland and Chicago) more often. Ford also had some arm troubles at that time, so that partially accounts for the workload. Hard to complain about the results.

  17. Pete, I guess we can't forget Oscar Azocar from earlier this season. What is that, the Pick 5, then?