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Steve O'Neill

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Stephen Francis O'Neill

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[edit] Biographical Information

O'Neill in 1920

Catcher Steve O'Neill began his playing career with the Elmira Colonels in 1910 and spent most of the next year with the Worcester Busters before joining the Cleveland Naps late in the ­1911 season. He spent more than a decade with Cleveland, with his best season coming in 1920 when he hit .321 with 3 homers and 55 RBIs. He also played in the World Series that year, hitting .333 in seven games as the Indians defeated the Brooklyn Robins to win their first Championship.

Before the 1924 season, O'Neill was traded to the Boston Red Sox, and he was sent to the New York Yankees a year later, in 1925. After playing in the International League in 1926, he returned to the big leagues as a backup catcher for the St. Louis Browns in 1927 and 1928 Browns.

Overall, in 17 years in the majors, O'Neill hit .263 with just 13 home runs. As of 2007, he has the fourth most passed balls in the modern era (145).

After his big league playing days ended, O'Neill was player/manager with the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1929 to 1931, player/coach for the Toledo Mud Hens in 1932, and player/manager for the Mud Hens in 1933 and 1934.

O'Neill began the 1935 season as a Cleveland Indians coach but replaced Walter Johnson as manager in mid-season. In two and a half years at the helm there, he is credited with helping in the development of teenage phenom Bob Feller into a solid pitcher.

After managing the Buffalo Bisons for three seasons, O'Neill was a member of the Detroit Tigers coaching staff in 1941. He managed the Beaumont Exporters in 1942 and then returned to the majors as Detroit's skipper for the next six years, from 1943 to 1948. Under his leadership, the Tigers won the 1945 World Series in seven games over the Chicago Cubs and finished second in the American League three times. In 1947 he was named as part of the inaugural class of the International League Hall of Fame.

O'Neill returned to the Indians as a coach in 1949 and, after beginning 1950 as a Boston Red Sox coach, replaced Joe McCarthy as Boston manager in mid-season. After spending a season and half at the helm there, he managed the Philadelphia Phillies for parts of three seasons, from 1952 to 1954. He later scouted for the Indians from 1955 to 1957.

O'Neill was the brother of Jack O'Neill, Jim O'Neill, and Mike O'Neill, and the father-in-law of Skeeter Webb (whom he managed with the Tigers) and minor leaguer Hank Nowak.

[edit] Notable Achievements


Preceded by
Walter Johnson
Cleveland Indians Manager
1935-1937
Succeeded by
Ossie Vitt
Preceded by
Del Baker
Detroit Tigers Manager
1943-1948
Succeeded by
Red Rolfe
Preceded by
Joe McCarthy
Boston Red Sox Manager
1950-1951
Succeeded by
Lou Boudreau
Preceded by
Eddie Sawyer
Philadelphia Phillies Manager
1952-1954
Succeeded by
Terry Moore

[edit] Year-by-Year Managerial Record

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
1929 Toronto Maple Leafs International League 92-76 2nd none none
1930 Toronto Maple Leafs International League 87-80 4th none none
1931 Toronto Maple Leafs International League 83-84 5th none none
1933 Toledo Mud Hens American Association 70-83 5th (t) Cleveland Indians
1934 Toledo Mud Hens American Association 68-84 6th none
1935 Cleveland Indians American League 36-23 3rd Cleveland Indians replaced Walter Johnson (46-48) on August 5
1936 Cleveland Indians American League 80-74 5th Cleveland Indians
1937 Cleveland Indians American League 83-71 4th Cleveland Indians
1938 Buffalo Bisons International League 79-74 4th none Lost League Finals
1939 Buffalo Bisons International League 82-72 3rd Cleveland Indians Lost in 1st round
1940 Buffalo Bisons International League 76-83 6th none
1942 Beaumont Exporters Texas League 89-58 1st Detroit Tigers Lost League Finals
1943 Detroit Tigers American League 78-76 5th Detroit Tigers
1944 Detroit Tigers American League 88-66 2nd Detroit Tigers
1945 Detroit Tigers American League 88-65 1st Detroit Tigers Won World Series
1946 Detroit Tigers American League 92-62 2nd Detroit Tigers
1947 Detroit Tigers American League 85-69 2nd Detroit Tigers
1948 Detroit Tigers American League 78-76 5th Detroit Tigers
1950 Boston Red Sox American League 62-30 3rd Boston Red Sox replaced Joe McCarthy (32-30)
1951 Boston Red Sox American League 87-67 3rd Boston Red Sox
1952 Philadelphia Phillies National League 59-32 4th Philadelphia Phillies replaced Eddie Sawyer (28-35) on June 28
1953 Philadelphia Phillies National League 83-71 4th Philadelphia Phillies
1954 Philadelphia Phillies National League 40-37 -- Philadelphia Phillies replaced by Terry Moore on July 15

[edit] Records Held

  • Double plays, catcher, season, 36, 1916

[edit] Further Reading

  • Adam Ulrey: "Steve O'Neill", in Mark Armour and Bill Nowlin, eds.: Red Sox Baseball in the Days of Ike and Elvis: The Red Sox of the 1950s, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2012, pp. 327-332. ISBN 978-1933599243

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