Posts Tagged ‘Harry Frazzee’

What have you done to my team?

June 29, 2011

As anybody who reads stuff here with any regularity knows, I’m a diehard Dodgers fan. I remember all the way back to when the letter on the cap was a “B” and I’ve been proud to admit my team loyalty. I’m not sure that last part is still true.

I saw an article on ESPN that listed the ten worst owners ever and put Frank McCourt second to Harry Frazzee, of sell Babe Ruth to the Yankees fame. They’re wrong. There are all those 19th Century owners who ran two franchises and gutted one to make the other a potential contender. Take a look at the 1899 Cleveland Spiders and tell me that guy wasn’t a first-rate jerk of an owner. But they aren’t wrong by much. McCourt is destroyed one of the true flagship franchises in baseball. I’d rank them second to the Cardinals in the National League (but not by much) and behind only the Yankees in the American League.

Of course McCourt has had a lot of help. His wife is a real jewel. She wants “diversity” in the front office, not competence. The scouting bureau isn’t anything to write home to mom about either. Those guys  they went out and drafted are the best they can do? God help my team. Jim Varney’s old “Ernest” character could have done better (at least “Ernest” would have been trying to do the right thing).  Bud Selig wanted Fox out so badly, he endorsed McCourt (at least tacitly) and now Selig wants to be  seen as acting in the best interest of the game?  Gimme a break. Actually I’m rooting for Selig in this one. The idea of taking the front money from the Fox deal and using it for a divorce (God, where’s Tammy Wynette when we need her?) instead of for players is so awful that I think Selig got this one right. And that’s how bad this situation has become, I’m now praising Selig.

I have no idea what’s going to ultimately happen in this mess (is “mess” too nice a word for this?), except that somebody new is going to take over my team. Hopefully, he (she–why not a woman?) will know what he’s doing. Frankly he/she can’t do any worse, at least I don’t think they can.

The Greatest General Manager

November 16, 2010

Ed Barrow

A title like the one above is dangerous. People can always say “Hey, dope, you forgot…”. Well, in this case I think I’m quite safe in picking Ed Barrow is the finest General Manager to ever grace the game.

Barrow was born in May 1868. After a short newspaper stint in Iowa, Barrow moved to Pittsburgh in 1890 and by 1895 had served as manager in Wheeling, West Virginia and Paterson, New Jersey. In ’95 while in New Jersey, he signed Honus Wagner (see what I mean about greatest) to a contract. By 1903 he was manager of the Detroit Tigers, finishing fifth in an eight team league. He left in 1904 and went back to managing in the minors. In 1910 he took over presidency of the Eastern League and in 1918 became manager of the Boston Red Sox.

Barrow made one major change to the Sox roster in 1918. He moved Babe Ruth from being primarily a pitcher who could hit a bit to an outfielder who could pitch a bit. Boston promptly won the World Series. Barrow stayed at Boston through 1920. The owner, Harry Frazzee, was in the process of dismantling the team for cash. The most famous sale was Ruth to New York, but it also cost him his manager. Barrow also moved to New York, this time in the role of business manager (the modern equivalent is general manager). It’s here that Barrow flourished. Given pretty much a free hand by Yankees ownership, between 1920 and 1945 Barrow helped create the greatest dynasty in Major League history. He was largely responsible for bringing up such players as Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, and Earle Combs for the 1920s Yankees team. In the 1930s he added Joe DiMaggio, Bill Dickey (Dickey actually came up in 1928, but didn’t start), Phil Rizzuto, Lefty Gomez, Tommy Henrich, and Charley Keller. He also was an astute trader, picking up journeyman Red Ruffing from Boston to be the ace of the 1930’s team.

In 1945, Barrow became president of the Yankees, holding the job for two years. He retired after the 1947 season and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1953. He died later that same year.

There is no question that the Yankees teams that dominated baseball between 1921 and 1947 owed their success to the quality of the players on the field. Ed Barrow was largely responsible for putting those teams together. Branch Rickey may have been more influential by creating the farm system and integrating baseball, but Barrow was more successful on the diamond. He gets my vote as the best GM ever.