Baseball Managers From Baseball Dads
by Paul Semendinger
Originally published, December 3, 2017
NOTE - This article was one I wrote in the early days of SSTN, on December 3, 2017.
I wrote this in response to the idea that was frequently stated at the time that in hiring Aaron Boone, the Yankees had a manger who should do well because he came from a baseball family. I wanted to see if being a manager from a baseball family, specifically if being the son of a big league player, was something that tends to lead to success.
Aaron Boone will be the latest manager to come from a baseball family.
The following is a list I compiled of all of the previous Major League managers who also came from baseball families. Each of these managers had a father who also played in the Major Leagues.
BUDDY BELL – Buddy Bell played in the Major Leagues for 18 years (1972-89) and was a five-time All-Star. His father, Gus Bell, played in the Major Leagues for 15 years and had been a four-time All-Star. In nine seasons as a manger, with three different franchises, Buddy Bell had a lifetime managerial record of 519-724 (.418). Buddy Bell enjoyed only one winning season as a manager (82-80 with the 2000 Colorado Rockies).
DAVID BELL (UPDATE) - David Bell is the son of Buddy Bell and the grandson of Gus Bell. Bell has managed the Reds for four seasons. To date his record as a manager is 251-295 (.460). The Reds reached the Wild Card in 2020 and were swept in two games.
BOB BOONE – Bob Boone played in the Major Leagues for 19 years (1972-90) and was a four-time All-Star. His father, Ray Boone, played in the Major Leagues for 13 years and had been a two-time All-Star. In six seasons as a manager, with two different franchises, Bob Boone had a lifetime managerial record of 371-444 (.455). Bob Boone never enjoyed a winning season as a manager.
TERRY FRANCONA – Terry Francona played in the Major Leagues for 10 years (1981-90). He was never an All-Star. His father, Tito Francona, played in the Major Leagues for 15 years and was an All-Star in 1961. In 17 years as a manager, with three different franchises, Terry Francona has a lifetime managerial record of 1,483 -1,269 (.539). He has won two World Series. Terry Francona is currently the manager of the Cleveland Indians.
Update - In the seasons since the article was written, Terry Francona's record has been 391-317 (.552). His teams have had two first place finishes and three second place finishes.
HAL LANIER – Hal Lanier played in the Major Leagues for 10 years (1964-73). He was never an All-Star. His father, Max Lanier, played in the Major Leagues for 14 years and was a two-time All-Star. In 3 years as a manager, all with the Houston Astros, Hal Lanier had a lifetime managerial record of 254-232 (.523). In 1986, Lanier led the Astros to a first-place finish. Hal Lanier is not an active manager today.
EARLE MACK – Earle Mack played in the Major Leagues for parts of just three seasons (1910-11, 1914) appearing in just five total games). His father, Connie Mack, was baseball’s longest tenured manager. Connie Mack managed for 53 years winning five World Series. Connie Mack is in the Hall-of-Fame. Earle Mack managed for parts of the 1937 and 1939 seasons. His record, serving as an interim manager for his father was 45-77 (.369).
BOBBY MATTICK – Bobby Mattick played in the Major Leagues for 5 years (1938-1942). He was never an All-Star. His father, Wally Mattick, played in the Major Leagues for three seasons. In 3 years as a manager, all with the Toronto Blue Jays, Bobby Mattick had a lifetime managerial record of 104-164 (.388).
JOE SCHULTZ – Joe Schultz played in the Major Leagues for 9 years (1939-41, 1943-48). He was never an All-Star. His father, Joe Schultz, Sr., played in the Major Leagues for eleven seasons all before there was an All-Star game. In two years as a manger, with two different teams, Joe Schultz had a lifetime managerial record of 78-112 (.411). Joe Schultz is immortalized in Jim Bouton’s classic book Ball Four.
DICK SISLER – Dick Sisler played in the Major Leagues for 8 years (1946-53) and was an All-Star in 1950. His father, George Sisler, was one of baseball’s greats and was elected to the Hall-of-Fame in 1939. In 2 years as a manager, both with the Cincinnati Reds, Dick Sisler had a lifetime managerial record of 121-94 (.563).
JOEL SKINNER – Joel Skinner played in the Major Leagues for 9 years (1983-91) and was never an All-Star. His father, Bob Skinner, played in the Major Leagues for twelve years and was a two-time All-Star. Joel Skinner managed the Cleveland Indians for part of one season (2002). His record was 35-41 (.461).
HARRY WALKER – Harry Walker played in the Major Leagues for 11 years (1940-43, 1946-51, 1955) and was a two-time All-Star. His father, Dixie Walker, played for four seasons just after the turn of the 20th Century. (The Dixie Walker who played for the Yankees and (more famously) the Brooklyn Dodgers was Harry Walker’s brother.) In nine seasons as a manager, with three different franchises, Harry Walker had a lifetime managerial record of 630-604 (.511).
CONCLUSION (Newly Added) -
It is clear that being the son (or grandson) of a former Major League player does not, in any way, indicate that the family's "baseball knowledge" will lead to success as a big league manager.
Of the managers above, Only Terry Francona, Hal Lanier, Dick Sisler, and Harry Walker had lifetime winning percentages over .500.
The overall record of the managers listed above is 3,891 - 4,056 (.489). The only manager on the list who won a World Series is Terry Francona (and he won two). In fact, Terry Francona's success greatly skews the overall win/loss totals. Absent of his record, the one true outlier, the winning percentage of the other managers is just .463.
To be fair, in the years since I first wrote this, Aaron Boone has accumulated a lifetime record of 427-281 (.603). This regular season winning percentage is excellent. HIs regular season success, far and away, exceeds every other manager on this list.
But, to also be fair, in the post season, Aaron Boone's record as a manager is just 14-17 (.451). Boone's record in the various post season series is as follows: Wild Card (2-1), Division Series (2-2), Championship Series (0-2). Aaron Boone's father played on the World Champion 1980 Phillies. His dad's World Series experiences have not helped him reach that lofty goal.
The reason I wrote the article in the first place was that I did not agree with the idea some were touting at the time that in hiring Aaron Boone, the Yankees would have some time of advantage because he came from a baseball family. After listening to that talking point, time and again, I did this research to see if there were some indications that baseball family managers were successful in any way and if this family connection was an indication that Boone would have some success.
I also noted at the time that the argument, on its face, was flawed. Aaron Boone's father, who was also the son of a big league player, and he did not enjoy much success as a manager. Bob Boone never even had a winning season at the helm of any club he managed.
The family connection, it is clear, has not been an indicator of success. Only one such person from a baseball family, Terry Francona, has been able to reach and win a World Series. That speaks more to Francona's skills as a leader than the fact that his father played Major League Baseball.
Final note - I am always happy to update my research. If I missed a baseball manager who came from a baseball family, please let me know and I'll update the article with that person's statistics.