Fred Girard Haney (April 25, 1896 – November 9, 1977) was an American third baseman, manager, coach and executive in Major League Baseball (MLB). As a manager, he won two pennants and a world championship with the Milwaukee Braves and, as an executive, he was the first general manager of the expansion Los Angeles Angels of the American League. For years, Haney was one of the most popular baseball figures in Los Angeles. In 1974 he was presented with the King of Baseball award given by Minor League Baseball.
|Third baseman / Manager / General manager|
|Born: April 25, 1896|
Albuquerque, New Mexico
|Died: November 9, 1977 (aged 81)|
Beverly Hills, California
|April 18, 1922, for the Detroit Tigers|
|Last MLB appearance|
|May 7, 1929, for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Runs batted in||229|
As a general manager
|Career highlights and awards|
Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and raised in Los Angeles, Haney's major league playing career lasted all or part of seven seasons (1922–27, 1929). Primarily a third baseman—despite his diminutive (5 feet, 6 inches/1.67 m) size—Haney compiled a .275 batting average with 8 home runs and 229 RBI for the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. Much of his playing career was spent in his hometown with the city's two Pacific Coast League clubs, the original PCL Angels and the Hollywood Stars. He threw and batted right-handed.
Manager and broadcasterEdit
Haney became a manager in 1936, piloting the Toledo Mud Hens of the AA American Association, the top farm team of the St. Louis Browns. In 1939, he took over the lowly Browns and the team lost 111 games. They improved by 24 games in 1940, but when the 1941 Brownies dropped 32 of their first 44 contests, Haney was replaced by Luke Sewell.
After briefly returning to Toledo to manage through 1942, Haney went home to Los Angeles (and the Coast League) as the radio play-by-play broadcaster for the Hollywood Stars and Los Angeles Angels for six seasons, starting in 1943. In 1949, he moved back into the dugout as the manager of the Hollywood club. During his four years (1949–52) as manager, the Stars won two PCL pennants.
As a reward, Haney was named manager of the Stars' parent club: the worst team in the National League, the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates rang up three last place finishes in Haney's 1953–55 tenure, losing 104, 101 and 94 games. Finally, he was given the pink slip by the Bucs, and he joined the Milwaukee Braves as a coach for 1956. Adversity turned into good fortune, however, when the Braves—slow out of the gate in '56—fired skipper Charlie Grimm on June 17 and turned to Haney. Milwaukee played at a .630 clip for the rest of the season and improved from fifth to second place, only one game behind the Brooklyn Dodgers, securing Haney's tenure in the Beer City.
Golden years of the Braves' Milwaukee eraEdit
In 1957, with a lineup that included future Baseball Hall of Fame members Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn, and Red Schoendienst – and stars such as Lew Burdette, Bob Buhl, Johnny Logan and Del Crandall – the Braves won the National League pennant by eight games over the St. Louis Cardinals. During the regular season, Haney led the Braves in overcoming season-ending injuries to star first baseman Joe Adcock and fleet center fielder Bill Bruton, and slow starts to the season by their starting left fielder and second baseman, both of whom were traded in mid-June for Schoendienst.
Then, led by Burdette's three complete-game victories in the World Series, the Braves defeated the New York Yankees in seven games – including winning the crucial seventh game 5–0 in Yankee Stadium with Burdette pitching – thus making him the World Series Most Valuable Player. Aaron received the National League Most Valuable Player award and Spahn won the lone Major League Cy Young Award (two Cy Young Awards were not given out per year until 1967).
In 1958, the Milwaukee Braves repeated as the National League champions, this time again by a margin of eight games. (This time, it was a victory over Haney's old friends in Pittsburgh, back in contention under their manager Danny Murtaugh). The core of the Braves team was once again Aaron, Matthews, Adcock, Spahn, and Burdette; and Bruton come back from his season-ending injury in 1957 to play in 100 games. Logan played a full season with 145 games. Aaron led the team with 196 hits, 109 runs scored, and 95 runs batted in, and Matthews led the team with 31 home runs.
However, in 1958 their starting pitcher Bob Buhl was injured after pitching in just 11 games, winning five, and that put even more pressure on Haney, Spahn, and Burdette to win. Also because of injuries, Adcock played in only 105 games, and Wes Covington played in just 90. Schoendienst played in just 106 games, including some as just a pinch hitter, and it was discovered the next year that he had tuberculosis. In that difficult situation, Haney managed Spahn to a 22–11 record in 290 innings pitched and 23 complete games, and Burdette to a 20–10 record in 275 innings. The Braves finished first in the National League with a 92–62 record and returned to the World Series.
The Yankees again won the American League, hence the two teams faced off against each other again in the World Series. The Braves roared ahead by winning three of the first four games for a 3–1 lead in the series. However, the Yankees then regrouped, and they won games five, six, and seven to win the World Championship, with the final two games being played in Milwaukee County Stadium, the Braves' home stadium.
In 1959, the Milwaukee Braves were back in the thick of contention again, with the same core of regular players, and a stronger pitching staff, since Buhl came back to pitch 200 innings in 31 games, with a 15–9 record. Spahn and Burdette both shone, each with a 21–15 record, 290 innings pitched, and a combined total of 41 complete games. Adcock played in 115 games, Bruton played in 133, and Aaron and Matthews had incredible seasons.[according to whom?] Aaron led the league with careers highs in 223 hits, a 0.355 batting average, and 400 total bases, and he also led the league in slugging percentage. Aaron also hit 39 home runs and had 123 runs batted in. However, Matthews led the team with 46 home runs, and batted in 114 runs.
On the minus side of the equation, second baseman Schoendienst played in only five games and then went into a long but successful treatment for tuberculosis, and outfielder Wes Covington played in just 105 games.
Still, Haney managed the Braves to an end-of-the-season tie with the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place, with records of 86 wins and 68 losses. This forced the two teams into a best-two-out-of-three-games playoff. The Dodgers, who had lost playoffs for the pennant in both 1946 and 1951, were not to be denied in 1959. The Dodgers swept the first two games of the playoff, and they won their first pennant in their new home city – Haney's hometown of Los Angeles. A few days later, Haney, approaching the age of 61, was dismissed as the manager of the Braves, and he was replaced by the former Dodger coach Chuck Dressen.
In his guide to baseball managers, author Bill James makes a detailed case for considering Haney's 1959 season at the helm of the Braves as the worst performance by an MLB manager. As he puts it: "Without exaggeration, the 1959 Dodgers shouldn't have been within 20 games of the Braves". In reality, the two teams ended up playing a three-game playoff, which the Dodgers swept in two games. Among Haney's mistakes that season: riding his two top pitchers, Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette into the ground while ignoring a number of talented youngsters who were available to pitch; platooning Joe Adcock with the awful Frank Torre long after Torre had demonstrated he was in a year-long slump; failing to settle on a solution when 2B Red Schoendienst was lost for the season; and loading his bench with a group of grumpy and over-the-hill veterans from which he failed to get any production.
Thus, during his tenure of a little more than three-and-one-half seasons, Haney led the only two pennant winners, and the only World Champion, during the 13-year existence (1953–65) of the Milwaukee Braves. With his other two clubs "near misses", Haney stands as by far the most successful manager of the Braves' years in Milwaukee.
Haney's career managing record — tarnished by his poor teams in St. Louis and Pittsburgh — was 629–757 (.454). However, with the Braves, he won 341 games and lost 231 (.596).
First general manager of the AL AngelsEdit
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Haney was not out of work long. In 1960 he made a brief return to broadcasting, teaming with Lindsey Nelson to call weekend baseball for NBC television. The following year, the American League granted an expansion team to Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Angels, and its owner, Gene Autry, chose Haney to operate the team and its organization for him. While the Angels usually struggled on the playing field during Haney's tenure as GM from 1961 to 1968, they did finish a surprising third in 1962, and contended for the 1967 pennant as well. Haney made the team competitive in its early years by selecting future stars such as the shortstop Jim Fregosi and the pitcher Dean Chance in the expansion draft, and acquiring sluggers such as Leon Wagner and Lee Thomas. Haney also oversaw the Angels' relocation in 1966 from Chavez Ravine down the freeway to Anaheim Stadium in Orange County.