Friday, May 27, 2011

#166 - Jack McKeon/Royals Field Leaders

This is Jack McKeon's card during his first year as a manager. In '73 Jack led KC to the best season of the team's short existence at that point as they used a mid-season surge to grab the division lead right after the All-Star break. But the KC pitchers ran out of gas just as the Oakland guys got hot and Jack had to settle for second. He is only 42 in this photo. Remember when he was the cigar-chomping manager of the Marlins when they won the Series in 2003? He was 72 then and that was eight years ago. Pretty scary.

Jack McKeon was a Jersey kid who was signed by the Pirates in '48 at 18 (his birthday is the same as my dad's which is pretty wiggy) while attending Holy Cross. He hit .251 the following summer in D ball but that would be his highest average and he would miss part of the early Fifties to military time. Jack was a catcher during his career which never rose above Class B ball and ended with a .210 lifetime average in '59 after years in the Baltimore and Washington systems also. By '55 he was managing as well and after he was done as a player he continued to manage in the Washington/Minnesota system through '64 after which he became a scout. He then moved to the expansion Royals' system in late '68 and from '69 to '72 he managed in the minors for KC, the last couple seasons putting up some good numbers at Omaha, their Triple A club, and winning  two league titles. '73 was his first season managing the Royals which he did through '75. After a season in the Atlanta system in '76 he also managed the A's ('77 to '78), Padres ('88 to '90), Reds ('97 - 2000), and Marlins ('03 to '05). He had a long run as Padres GM ('81 to '90) which is where he picked up the handle Trader Jack from when he put together the '84 pennant winner. He also did admin work for Cincinnati ('93 -'97) and Florida (2006-'11). He won Manager of the Year twice in '99 and '03 and had that one Series winner in 2003. Lifetime as a manager he is 1,051-990 up top and 1,151-1,152 in the minors.

Galen Cisco was Ohio all the way to the point that he was starting fullback and captain of the Ohio State '57 NCAA title winner. There he was a also a linebacker and went 12-2 for his pitching career. He was signed by Boston in '58 and in '59 would win 17 between three minor league teams. After a couple decent Triple A seasons he came up to the Sox in '61 but for two seasons there had an ERA above 6.70 while going 6-11 as a spot guy. He then went to the Mets late in '62 and parts of four seasons was part of the rotation, losing 15 in '63 and 19 in '64 despite having a 3.60 ERA. He then spent the next few seasons moving between Triple A and the majors for Boston and Kansas City with '70 being his final season. He finished with a 25-56 record and 4.56 ERA with nine complete games and three shutouts in the majors and went 66-60 in the minors. He became the KC pitching coach in '71 which he did through '79. That was followed by stints at Montreal ('80 to '84), San Diego ('85 to '87), Toronto ('88 to '95), and Philadelphia ('97 to 2000). I believe he has since done some scouting.

Harry Dunlop was also a catcher who was signed in '52 by the Pirates. He also played some first base and even pitched a bit during his career. He started off pretty famously, being the catcher in '52 for three no-hitters in two weeks, one in which his pitcher threw 27 strikeouts! He had military duty from '53 to '54 and then returned to the Pirates system where he would play mostly Single A ball until released in '57. He then hooked up as a player/manager for an independent C team in '58, and hit .349 while finishing in second place. He continued to hit and coach quite well in the low minors and by '61 he was playing and managing in the Baltimore system which he did through '67, his final season as a player. He would hit .276 for his minor league career. After a year in the California system Harry was part of the initial KC coaching staff in '69 and remained there through '75. He coached also at St. Louis ('76), Cincinnati ('79 to '82 and '98 to 2000), San Diego ('83 to '87), and for the Marlins in '05. He also managed some more in the minors in the Cubs system ('77 to '78); the Padres one ('83); and the Milwaukee one ('91 to '93); and worked on the admin side for San Diego ('88 to '90). His managerial record is 894-794, all in the minors. Lots of his post-KC MLB time was spent with McKeon.

Charlie Lau was another - of course - catcher signed by Detroit in '52. Like Harry Dunlop, he had a strong start in D ball, hitting above .330. He then lost two years to the military as well and returned in '55 for a season of B ball and then spent most of the next three seasons in Triple A. During the '59 season he was traded to the Braves for whom he played at the same level. After very moderate playing time up top he was sold to the Orioles in '61 and by the end of the season his major league average was under .200 mostly as a pinch hitter. In '62, though, he got some playing time for the O's and hit .294. The next few years he split between Baltimore and Kansas City (the A's) and would generally hit pretty well in limited play. He was a good defensive catcher but his throwing arm was not so great. He was also developing a reputation as a hard worker and observer of the game so he'd probably decided by then that coaching was in his future. After being injured in '66 the at bats stopped coming and he was done by the end of the '67 season. His lifetime average was .255 and he hit .294 in the minors. Charley then moved into coaching, managed a year in the Atlanta system in '68 - he went 78-62 - and then moved to the KC one in '69. He became a coach for the Royals from '71 through '78, moved to the Yankees from '79 to '81, and then to the White Sox. He was revered as a hitting coach and had many pupils who would significantly improve their averages with his help: George Brett, Hal McRae, Willie Wilson, Rick Cerrone, Reggie, Greg Luzinski, and Carlton Fisk among them. Charley was still active as a White Sox coach when he died of cancer in '84. He was 50.

Since McKeon never played in the majors, this exercise is confined to him as manager:

1. McKeon managed Cookie Rojas from '73 to '75;
2. Rojas and Dick Allen '64 to '69 Phillies;
3. Allen and Willie Davis '71 Dodgers.

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