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Joseph Vincent McCarthy (April 21 1887 – January 13 1978), nicknamed "Marse Joe," was an American manager in Major League Baseball, most renowned for his leadership of the "Bronx Bombers" teams of the New York Yankees from 1931 to 1946. The first manager to win pennants with both National and American League teams, he won nine league titles overall and seven World Series championships – a record tied only by Casey Stengel – and his career winning percentages in both the regular season (.615) and postseason (.698, all in the Series) are the highest in major league history. His 2125 career victories rank eighth all-time in major league history for managerial wins, and he ranks first all-time for the Yankees with 1460 wins.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he grew up idolizing Athletics manager Connie Mack, McCarthy was among a handful of successful major league managers who had never played in the majors. After attending Niagara University, he had a 15-year minor league career from 1907 to 1921, primarily as a second baseman with Toledo, Buffalo and Louisville; but his best chance at playing in the majors dissolved in 1916 with the demise of the Federal League. After a brief managing stint in 1913 while playing in Wilkes-Barre, he resumed his managing career with Louisville in 1919, leading the team to American Association pennants in 1921 and 1925 before being hired to manage the Chicago Cubs for the 1926 season. He turned the club around, guiding them to the 1929 NL title, but was fired near the end of the 1930 season.
He rebounded immediately, being hired by the Yankees slightly over a year after the death of Miller Huggins. With the Yankees, his strict but fair managing style helped to solidify the team's place as the dominant franchise in baseball, with a World Series title in 1932, and four consecutively from 1936 to 1939; the Yankees became only the third team – and the first in the AL – to win four straight pennants, and the first to win more than two Series in a row. The Yankees went on to win three more AL crowns from 1941 to 1943 before McCarthy resigned in May 1946, partially due to conflict with new club operator Larry MacPhail. McCarthy returned as manager of the Boston Red Sox from 1948 to June 1950, but was unable to capture a pennant despite reaching a one-game playoff with the Cleveland Indians in 1948.
Despite his teams' great performance, he was not without his detractors, who believed he was simply fortunate enough to be provided with great talent and was not a strong game tactician. During his peak period from 1936 to 1943, when the Yankees won seven pennants in eight seasons, White Sox manager Jimmy Dykes described him as a "push-button" manager. Yet McCarthy was an outstanding teacher and developer of talent, and was particularly adept at handling temperamental players such as Hack Wilson and Babe Ruth, who had hoped to become New York's manager and resented a team "outsider" being hired. McCarthy utilized a low-key approach, never going to the mound to remove a pitcher or arguing with an umpire except on a point of the rules, preferring to stay at his seat in the center of the dugout. He also declined to wear a numbered uniform with the Yankees and Red Sox.
McCarthy's success throughout his career was such that in 32 years of managing, his 1922 Louisville club was the only team which finished either with a losing record or below fourth place. He was named Major League Manager of the Year by The Sporting News in 1936 – the first year the award was given – and again in 1938 and 1943.
In a 1969 poll by the Baseball Writers Association of America to commemorate the sport's professional centennial, McCarthy finished third in voting for the greatest manager in history, behind John McGraw and Casey Stengel; in a similar BBWAA poll in 1997 to select an All-Century team, he finished second behind Stengel. On April 29, 1976, the Yankees dedicated a plaque for their Monument Park to McCarthy. The plaque calls him "One of baseball's most beloved and respected leaders."
McCarthy's "10 Commandments for Success in the Majors":
- Nobody ever became a ballplayer by walking after a ball.
- You will never become a .300 hitter unless you take the bat off your shoulder.
- An outfield who throws in back of a runner is locking the barn after the horse is stolen.
- Keep your head up and you may not have to keep it down.
- When you start to slide, SLIDE. He who changes his mind may have to change a good leg for a bad one.
- Do not alibi on bad hops. Anyone can field the good ones.
- Always run them out. You never can tell.
- Do not quit.
- Try not to find too much fault with the umpires. You cannot expect them to be as perfect as you are.
- A pitcher who hasn't control hasn't anything.
Source: Baseball's Greatest Managers (1961).
- baseballhalloffame.org – Hall of Fame biography page
- Baseball-reference.com – Major league career managerial statistics
- Baseball Library.com - biography and career highlights
- The Baseball Page
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