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Grady Little

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William Grady Little (born March 30, 1950) is a former manager in Major League Baseball. He guided the Boston Red Sox from 2002 to 2003 and the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2006 to 2007. He was inducted into the Kinston, North Carolina, Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001.

Playing careerEdit

Grady Little was born on March 30, 1950 in Abilene, Texas. He graduated from Garinger High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, before he was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 12th round of the 1968 MLB Draft.

After spending the 1969 season in the Marine reserves, Grady played in 167 games as a catcher over five minor-league seasons in the Braves and New York Yankees organizations. He posted a career .207 batting average with two homers and 37 RBI. He retired from playing in 1973.

Coaching careerEdit

Little became a player-coach for the West Haven Yankees while still playing in 1971 and continued through his retirement as a player, remaining as a coach with West Haven until 1974.

During the 1975-79 seasons he stayed away from baseball and worked as a cotton farmer.

He managed in the minor leagues for 16 years, compiling a record of 1,054-903 (.539).

The minor league teams he managed:

From 1996 to 2001, Little served as a coach for the Padres, Red Sox, and Indians.[1]

Boston Red Sox (2002 - 2003)Edit

In March 2002, the Boston Red Sox hired Little as their manager. Little was enormously popular with his players as he enhanced the loose nature of the clubhouse and supported struggling players. His tenure was very successful, the Red Sox winning a combined 188 games in his two seasons and nearly taking the pennant in 2003.

However, the 2003 season (and Little's entire tenure with the Red Sox) is mostly remembered for his controversial decision during Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees. The Red Sox led the game 5-2 in the 8th inning, and were five outs away from reaching the World Series. Little visited the mound after starting pitcher Pedro Martínez gave up three straight hits, and a run from Derek Jeter, but he decided against taking out the ace pitcher. The Yankees tied the game on the next hit from Jorge Posada, and went on to win the game (and the pennant) in the 11th inning.

Little was the target of great angst in the aftermath of the Red Sox' loss (which turned out to be the last manifestation of the so-called Curse of the Bambino). Critics pointed out that Martinez had a history of pitching more poorly when tired, while the Red Sox had a well-rested bullpen waiting to take over. The club had bullpen problems for much of the season, however, and for a considerable period attempted a "closer by committee" scheme[citation needed]. Supporters responded that Little's decision to trust Martinez was in keeping with his style that had brought the Red Sox that far in the first place. The Red Sox decided not to renew Little's contract. The year following Little's dismissal, the Red Sox added a reliever, Keith Foulke, who notched 32 saves (twice as many as the 16 notched by 2003 club leader Byung-Hyun Kim), and a starter, Curt Schilling, and won the World Series under Terry Francona.

After he was fired by the Red Sox, the independent minor league Brockton Rox announced plans to give away Grady Little bobble arm dolls to the first 1,000 fans to attend the May 29, 2004 game. The doll's arm bounces to simulate a manager's call to the bullpen, displays the date October 16, 2003 (the date of Game 7 of the ALCS) and Little's win total from the 2002 and 2003 seasons. The plans were cancelled when Little objected to his likeness being used. In an agreement with the Rox, Little permitted the dolls to be sold with the provision that the money raised from the sale would go "to the Professional Baseball Scouting Foundation, which provides relief to retired scouts in financial peril".[1][2][3] The initial selling price was $38.36 (two times $19.18, 1918 being the last time the Red Sox won the World Series) but later auctions of autographed versions sold for as high as $255.[4]

In the film Fever Pitch, Ben Wrightman (Jimmy Fallon) and his friends attempt to explain the Curse of the Bambino to his new girlfriend, Lindsay Meeks (Drew Barrymore). After Ben and the friends rattle off several instances, the Pedro incident is the last mentioned.[5]

Los Angeles Dodgers (2006 - 2007)Edit

Little spent 2004 and 2005 as a consultant, instructor, and scout with the Chicago Cubs. On December 8, 2005, after an organizational shakeup that resulted in the dismissal of both manager Jim Tracy and GM Paul DePodesta, the Los Angeles Dodgers turned to Little to be the team's 7th manager since its 1958 move to L.A. As manager of the Dodgers, Little was reunited with several players from the 2002-03 Boston team, including pitcher Derek Lowe, third baseman Bill Mueller, and shortstop-turned-first baseman Nomar Garciaparra. Little and new GM Ned Colletti were widely credited for bringing a fresh outlook to a team that had been wracked by instability over the previous decade. The Dodgers won 88 games in 2006 and earned the NL wild-card spot in the playoffs during Little's first season; however, they were swept by the New York Mets in the NLDS. Plagued by injuries to several key players and fielding a lineup loaded with youngsters, the Dodgers failed to reach the playoffs in 2007.

Dodgers GM Ned Colletti initially confirmed that Little would return as manager of the ballclub in 2008. However, Little appeared hesitant to do so after Colletti partly blamed him and his staff for the Dodgers' disappointing 2007 season. Little failed to contact Colletti for over two weeks. This resulted in Colletti entering into a tentative agreement with Joe Girardi, and when it fell through, negotiations with Joe Torre. Citing 'personal reasons', Little subsequently resigned on October 30, 2007 [2].

FamilyEdit

Little has a wife, Debi, a son, Eric, and 3 grandchildren (Braden, Luke, and Jace.)

Managerial recordsEdit

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
BOS2002 93 69 .574 2nd in AL East - - - -
BOS2003 95 67 .586 2nd in AL East 6 6 .500 Lost in ALCS
LA2006 88 74 .543 2nd in NL West 0 3 .000 Lost in NLDS
LA2007 82 80 .506 4th in NL West - - - -

See alsoEdit

References Edit

  1. Rod Beaton (2004-07-12). Bobbin'-arm doll immortalizes Little's non-call to bullpen. USA Today. Retrieved on 2007-11-02.
  2. Rod Beaton (2004-07-10). GRADY LITTLE OK’S SALE OF HIS BOBBLE-ARM DOLL; PROCEEDS TO CHARITY. Brockton Rox Press Release. Retrieved on 2007-11-02.
  3. Gordon Edes (2004-07-11). These guys aren't half bad:Land of the dolls. Boston Globe. Retrieved on 2007-11-02.
  4. Gordon Edes (2004-08-24). AUTOGRAPHED GRADY LITTLE BOBBLE-ARM DOLLS TO BE AUCTIONED ON EBAY. Brockton Rox Press Release. Retrieved on 2007-11-02.
  5. "Fever Pitch", 2005 Motion Picture, 20th Century Fox Studios, Screenplay by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel from the novel by Nick Hornby

External linksEdit

Preceded by:
Joe Kerrigan
Boston Red Sox manager
2002–2003
Succeeded by:
Terry Francona
Preceded by:
Jim Tracy
Los Angeles Dodgers manager
2006–2007
Succeeded by:
Joe Torre

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