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Ralph Houk

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Ralph George Houk
(Major)

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[edit] Biographical Information

Ralph Houk is best remembered as a pennant-winning manager of the New York Yankees. Additionally, he played several seasons for the club, was their General Manager, and managed two other big league teams.

A catcher, Houk signed with the Yankees prior to the 1939 season. Following three years in the minors, he enlisted in the U.S. Army on February 22, 1942 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. During World War II, he fought in the Battle of the Bulge and earned a Silver Star and Purple Heart, seeing combat under the command of General George S. Patton. On one occasion, he took a bullet through the helmet but was not seriously wounded. He left the Army with the rank of major.

After the war, Houk returned to baseball in 1946 and reached the majors in 1947 as the team's third-string backstop behind Aaron Robinson and Yogi Berra. He hit .272 in a career-best 41 big league games that summer and got a hit in Game 6 of that fall's World Series. He split the next two seasons between the Yankees and the Kansas City Blues of the American Association, and then spent the next five years with New York, seeing very limited playing time behind Berra and Charlie Silvera. Nevertheless, he was on the Yankees' World Series roster four times during his career.

Following his major league playing days, Houk returned to the minors in 1955 as skipper of the Denver Bears. He spent three seasons managing the team, winning an American Association title in his final year. He then went on to spend three years on the Yankees' coaching staff before succeeding Casey Stengel at the helm of the club from 1961 to 1963. He took the team to the World Series all three years and won the Fall Classic twice. He was then named the team's General Manager and promoted Berra to his former post. After the team got off to a slow start under skipper Johnny Keane in 1966, he stepped down as GM to manage the club again. After the team was sold to a group including George Steinbrenner in 1973, he resigned his post.

Joe Cronin (in the suit) and Yankees manager Ralph Houk in 1969

Houk went on to manage the Detroit Tigers from 1974 to 1978, only once finishing above .500. Houk was later criticized for his over-use of rookie pitcher Mark Fidrych, whom Houk let pitch complete game after complete game, often on only three days' rest. Fidrych won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1976, but - possibly due to Houk's constant and consistent over-use of his arm - tore his rotator cuff in an early 1977 appearance, effectively ending a very promising career at the age of 22.

Houk was skipper of the Boston Red Sox from 1981 to 1984, when he retired. Despite his success in the first three years of his managerial career, he never returned to the postseason again.

Houk passed away on July 21, 2010, at his home in Winter Haven, Florida.

[edit] Notable Achievements


Preceded by
Casey Stengel
New York Yankees Manager
1961-1963
Succeeded by
Yogi Berra
Preceded by
Roy Hamey
New York Yankees General Manager
1964-1966
Succeeded by
Dan Topping, Jr
Preceded by
Johnny Keane
New York Yankees Manager
1966-1973
Succeeded by
Bill Virdon
Preceded by
Joe Schultz
Detroit Tigers Manager
1974-1978
Succeeded by
Les Moss
Preceded by
Johnny Pesky
Boston Red Sox Manager
1981-1984
Succeeded by
John McNamara

[edit] Year-By-Year Managerial Record

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
1955 Denver Bears American Association 83-71 3rd New York Yankees Lost in 1st round
1956 Denver Bears American Association 87-67 2nd New York Yankees Lost League Finals
1957 Denver Bears American Association 90-64 2nd New York Yankees League Champs
1961 New York Yankees American League 109-53 1st New York Yankees World Series Champs
1962 New York Yankees American League 96-66 1st New York Yankees World Series Champs
1963 New York Yankees American League 104-57 1st New York Yankees Lost World Series
1966 New York Yankees American League 66-73 10th New York Yankees replaced Johnny Keane (4-16) on May 7
1967 New York Yankees American League 72-90 9th New York Yankees
1968 New York Yankees American League 83-79 5th New York Yankees
1969 New York Yankees American League 80-81 5th New York Yankees
1970 New York Yankees American League 93-69 2nd New York Yankees
1971 New York Yankees American League 82-80 4th New York Yankees
1972 New York Yankees American League 79-76 4th New York Yankees
1973 New York Yankees American League 80-82 4th New York Yankees
1974 Detroit Tigers American League 72-90 6th Detroit Tigers
1975 Detroit Tigers American League 57-102 6th Detroit Tigers
1976 Detroit Tigers American League 74-87 5th Detroit Tigers
1977 Detroit Tigers American League 74-88 4th Detroit Tigers
1978 Detroit Tigers American League 86-76 5th Detroit Tigers
1981 Boston Red Sox American League 59-49 5th Boston Red Sox
1982 Boston Red Sox American League 89-73 3rd Boston Red Sox
1983 Boston Red Sox American League 78-84 6th Boston Red Sox
1984 Boston Red Sox American League 86-76 4th Boston Red Sox

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