Bill McKechnie

William Boyd McKechnie (August 7, 1886 – October 29, 1965) was an American professional baseball player, manager and coach. He played in Major League Baseball as a third baseman during the dead-ball era. McKechnie was the first manager to win World Series titles with two teams (1925 Pittsburgh Pirates and 1940 Cincinnati Reds), and remains one of only two managers to win pennants with three teams, also capturing the National League title in 1928 with the St. Louis Cardinals. His 1,892 career victories ranked fourth in major league history when he ended his managing career in 1946, and trailed only John McGraw's NL total of 2,669 in league history. He was nicknamed "Deacon" because he sang in his church choir and generally lived a quiet life.

Bill McKechnie
BillMcKechnie.jpg
Third baseman / Manager
Born: (1886-08-07)August 7, 1886
Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania
Died: October 29, 1965(1965-10-29) (aged 79)
Bradenton, Florida
Batted: Switch
Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 8, 1907, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Last MLB appearance
September 20, 1920, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
MLB statistics
Batting average.251
Home runs8
Runs batted in240
Games managed3,647
Managerial record1,896–1,723
Winning %.524
Teams
As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction1962
Election methodVeterans Committee

Early lifeEdit

McKechnie was born on August 7, 1886 to Archibald and Mary McKechnie, two Scottish immigrants who had settled in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania shortly before Bill was born.[1]

Playing careerEdit

 
Bill McKechnie

McKechnie made his major league debut in 1907 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, appearing in three games, before reemerging with the team in 1910 in a more substantial role. A utility infielder for the first half of his career before playing more substantially at third base later on, McKechnie played with the Pirates (1907, 1910–1912, 1918, 1920), Boston Braves (1913), New York Yankees (1913), Indianapolis Hoosiers/Newark Peppers (1914–15), New York Giants (1916) and Cincinnati Reds (1916–17). His best offensive season came in 1914 with the Hoosiers, when he scored 107 runs, batted .304 and stole 47 bases.

In 846 games over 11 major league seasons, McKechnie posted a .251 batting average (713-for-2843) with 319 runs, 8 home runs, 240 RBI, 127 stolen bases and 190 bases on balls. Defensively, he recorded an overall .954 fielding percentage playing at third, second, first base and shortstop.

Managing careerEdit

Newark PeppersEdit

In 1913, McKechnie had his worst season as a full-time player, batting only .134. However, Yankees manager Frank Chance thought McKechnie had a keen baseball mind, and had him sit next to him on the bench during games.[2] Two years later, McKechnie got his first taste of managerial duties, when he served as player-manager of the Newark Peppers of the Federal League, leading the team to a 54–45 record.[3]

Post–playing careerEdit

After he retired as a player, he managed for a year in the minors before assuming the helm of the Pirates in 1922. He managed the Pirates from 1922 to 1926, St. Louis Cardinals in 1928, St. Louis Cardinals again after they rehired him in 1929, Boston Braves from 1930 to 1937, and Cincinnati Reds from 1938 to 1946. He compiled 1,896 wins and 1,723 losses for a .524 winning percentage over his managerial career.[3] His teams won four National League pennants (1925, 1928, 1939 and 1940) and two World Series championships (1925 and 1940), and he remains the only manager to win National League pennants with three teams (Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Cincinnati).

Pittsburgh PiratesEdit

He took over the Pirates in the middle of the 1922 season, as George Gibson was fired after going 32-33. McKechnie led the Pirates to 53 wins in 90 games to maneuver them into a third place finish in the National League. Third place awaited the Pirates for the next two years, but the 1925 season proved a breakthrough as the Pirates went 95-58 and won the pennant, which was the first pennant for the club in sixteen years, led by future Hall of Famers such as Max Carey, Kiki Cuyler, and Pie Traynor. Pittsburgh faced off against the Washington Senators, who had won the World Series the previous year while brought on fellow Hall of Famers in manager Bucky Harris, Stan Coveleski, Goose Goslin, Sam Rice, and Walter Johnson. The Pirates won just one of the first four games, needing to win to drive the Series back to Pittsburgh. They held the Senators (who had scored fourteen runs in the past four games to seven for Pittsburgh) to five total runs in the next two games to force a Game 7 with Johnson on the mound against Ray Kremer. Amid rain and fog in Forbes Field, the Senators built an early lead with four runs in the first inning. However, the Pirates responded each time Washington would score, and this included a 7-6 game going into the bottom of the eighth inning. Two outs were followed by three hits, a fielder's choice, and a walk; Cuyler hit a two-run double off Johnson for the go-ahead runs as Red Oldham got the save to clinch Pittsburgh's title. It would be the last World Series title for the Pirates for 35 years.

McKechnie's tenure in Pittsburgh unraveled the following year when several of his players thought part-owner, vice president and de facto bench coach Fred Clarke was undermining him. Several of them thought Clarke was trying to regain the job he'd held from 1900 to 1915. Three veteran players—Max Carey, Carson Bigbee and Babe Adams—demanded Clarke's removal from the bench. McKechnie, who by inclination was a player's manager, initially appeared to support them. However, fearing that he'd be seen as opposing the ownership, he was forced to denounce his own players. Ownership struck fast and hard, releasing Bigbee and Adams and waiving Carey. The dispute cut the legs out from under the Pirates, who fell to third. with a 84-69-4 record. McKechnie was fired after the season.[2] He was replaced by Donie Bush, who had short-term success with the Pirates, including winning the pennant in his first season with the club, although his squabbles with Cuyler lead to the trade of the latter and Bush's resignation two years later.

St. Louis CardinalsEdit

McKechnie was brought in as a coach for the 1927 season for the St. Louis Cardinals. After the year ended, he replaced player-manager Bob O'Farrell, who was given a $5,000 raise to step down for McKechnie. [4] The Cardinals finished the 1928 season in first place with a record 95 wins and 59 losses.[3] They were swept in the World Series by the New York Yankees.[5] McKechnie left the club after the World Series. Billy Southworth started the 1929 season with 43 wins and 45 losses.[6] Gabby Street managed for a game before McKechnie returned as manager.[3] He finished the 1929 season with a record of 34 wins and 29 losses.[6]

Boston BravesEdit

 
McKechnie (left), and the Dodgers' Max Carey watch as John H. McCooey throws out the first ball of Brooklyn's 1932 season

McKechnie was hired to manage the Boston Braves in 1930, replacing Emil Fuchs, who had added manager to his title of owner when he had to trade Rogers Hornsby to try and stay solvent. Financial troubles would plague the Braves alongside other teams in the Great Depression era. His first Braves team finished 70-84 for a sixth place finish in the NL, which was actually an improvement from their record of 56–98 the previous year. McKechnie was not nearly as successful in Boston as he was at his other managerial stops, but he managed to finish "fourth or fifth with teams that should have been eighth," according to baseball historian Lee Allen.[7] In eight years, he had a winning record four times while finishing in the first division (top four) twice.

In 1933, they finished 83-71 to have their first winning season in twelve years, doing so while finishing fourth, nine games behind New York. They finished 78-73 the next year and finished 16 games behind St. Louis for another fourth place finish. The bottom fell out in 1935, a season in which Babe Ruth returned to play in the city of Boston for the first time in 14 years, with Fuchs also giving him duties of vice president and assistant manager, although these were more ceremonial than anything. According to Allen, McKechnie claimed that Ruth's presence made it nearly impossible to enforce discipline. Ruth drew a huge salary, and lived apart from the team on the road.[7] Additionally, years of high living had rendered him a shadow of his former self. Ruth's running problems and errors proved such a problem that three pitchers threatened to go on strike if he was in the lineup. Ruth lasted only about a month before retiring, and hit .181.[8] Despite fielding essentially the same team that finished fourth a year earlier, the Braves crumbled to a record of 38-115, the worst record in modern National League history and the second worst in modern major league history. The team improved in the next two years, going 71-83 (with three ties) and 79-73 before McKechnie was hired to manage the Cincinnati Reds in 1938.

Cincinnati Reds and later careerEdit

 
McKechnie as Reds manager

According to one baseball reference work, McKechnie had a poor sense of direction, which did not improve when, as the Reds' manager, he began traveling by plane. He arrived in an airport when the Reds were to play the Pirates at Forbes Field. He hailed a taxi and asked the driver to take him to the Schenley Hotel. "I never heard of it", said the driver. McKechnie gave him the names of the nearby streets. "Never heard of them either", the cabbie said. "How long have you been driving a cab here? the manager asked. "Twenty-five years and then some", said the driver, "But so help me I never heard of the Schenley Hotel! You must be in the wrong town! Where do you think you are?" "Pittsburgh", McKechnie said. "Pittsburgh, hell!" retorted the driver. "You're really lost. This is Detroit!"

McKechnie was an unusual kind of manager for his era. A very religious man, he did not smoke, drink alcohol or use profanity. When he had a problem player who was likely to go out carousing, McKechnie's simple solution was to room with him.

In his first season with the Reds, he led them to an 82–68–1 record, finishing 4th in the NL behind the Chicago Cubs. In his second year, he led them to a 97–57–2 record, finishing 1st by 4½ games over the St. Louis Cardinals. This was McKechnie's third pennant, with each occurring with a different team. In the World Series that year, they were swept by the New York Yankees. In the following year, the Reds managed to improve, winning 100 games (a team first) while winning the NL once again, this time by 12 games over the Brooklyn Dodgers. In the World Series that year, they beat the Detroit Tigers in seven games. The Reds didn't win more than 90 games in the rest of McKechnie's tenure, but they did manage to finish with a winning record in four of his six final years, including a 2nd place in 1943. 1946 was his final year with the team, managing them to a 64–86 record (with 2 ties), with Hank Gowdy managing the final four games. His last game managed was on September 25 at St. Louis, winning 6–0.[9]

He was hired as a coach to be the right-hand man of young Cleveland Indians manager Lou Boudreau the following year. The Boudreau–McKechnie Indians won a World Series in 1948. McKechnie coached with Boudreau for five seasons, with the Indians (1947–49) and Boston Red Sox (1952–53).

McKechnie was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962 and into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 1967.

Managerial recordEdit

Team From To Regular season record Post–season record
G W L Win % G W L Win %
Newark Peppers 1915 1915 99 54 45 .545
Pittsburgh Pirates 1922 1926 702 409 293 .583 7 4 3 .571
St. Louis Cardinals 1928 1928 154 95 59 .617 4 0 4 .000
St. Louis Cardinals 1929 1929 63 34 29 .540
Boston Braves 1930 1937 1226 560 666 .457
Cincinnati Reds 1938 1946 1375 744 631 .541 11 4 7 .364
Total 3619 1896 1723 .524 22 8 14 .364
Ref.:[3]

Personal lifeEdit

McKechnie died at age 79 in Bradenton, Florida. The Pirates' spring training home, McKechnie Field in Bradenton, was named after him until the name changed to LECOM Park in 2017.

McKechnie's son Bill Jr. was the farm system director of the Cincinnati Redlegs in the mid-1950s and later served as president of the Florida State League (1961–1962) and Pacific Coast League (1969–1973). He was also the father of former Syracuse radio station WNDR sportscaster Jim McKechnie. Bill McKechnie Jr.'s son Bill III was born April 20, 1940, and died of cancer in Florida on June 17, 2006.

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Stinson, p. 8
  2. ^ a b James, Bill (1997). The Bill James Guide to Baseball Managers. Diversion Books.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Bill McKechnie". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  4. ^ "M'Kechnie Made Manager Of Cardinals". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. 7 November 1927. p. 14. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
  5. ^ "1928 St. Louis Cardinals". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  6. ^ a b "1929 St. Louis Cardinals". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  7. ^ a b Allen, Lee. The National League Story. Hill & Wang, 1961.
  8. ^ Neyer, Rob (2005). Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Blunders. New York City: Fireside. ISBN 0-7432-8491-7.
  9. ^ "Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals Box Score, September 25, 1946".

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Boston Red Sox Pitching Coach
1952–1953
Succeeded by