Baseball’s Ten Winningest Managers of All Time

Of the top ten winningest baseball managers of all time, eight are enshrined in the Hall of Fame; Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox are still active. Nine of the ten winningest baseball managers won over 2,000 contests, and the all-time leader piled up 3,731 victories, and almost 4,000 losses! Only one of the ten winningest managers did not play Major League Baseball, but few of the other nine distinguished themselves on the playing field. Let’s take a look at the ten winningest managers in baseball history, starting at number ten and working our way up the list.

10. Casey Stengal- The “Ol Perfessor” would not be among the ten winningest managers if not for his work solely with the New York Yankees. He was a curious hire at the time, with a track record that was less than stellar. Stengal went 581-742 during nine years at the helm of the Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Braves. He was so lightly regarded, that Boston papers praised a trolley car driver who accidentally hit Casey, breaking his leg; hardly a way to treat a future top ten winningest manager! But as the Yankee manager, Casey Stengal put together a resume that may never be matched in baseball. He went 1,149 and 696 as their leader, and won an astounding ten American League pennants in 12 years. His seven World Series victories, including five in a row from 1949-1953, are tied for the most by any of the ten winningest managers. Four years of piloting the hapless Mets in the early Sixties only endeared him to baseball fans even more, as Stengal provided more humorous quotes than the rest of the ten winningest managers combined. He finished with a 1905-1842 record lifetime.

9. Leo Durocher- As zany as Stengal was, that’s how controversial Leo Durocher was while managing the Dodgers, Giants, Cubs, and Astros. He was associated with gamblers and mobsters, butted heads with umpires and commissioners, and won baseball games, enough to be included in the ten winningest managers of the sport. Durocher won three pennants and a World Series, but finished in the top three in his league or division 18 out of 26 years. “Leo the Lip” also could lay claim to the most exciting pennant victory of anyone in the top ten winningest managers club; the Giants defeat of their hated rival, the Brooklyn Dodgers, in a three game playoff in 1951. Durocher played in the majors for seventeen years, won a pair of World Series as a player, and was a three-time All-Star, probably the best player among the ten winningest managers.

8. Walter Alston- Of the ten winningest managers, Walter Alston might be the most anonymous of the entire group. In 1936, Alston got into one game as a member of the Cardinals, where he struck out in his only at bat and made an error at first base. When he took over the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954 they had never won a title, but this top ten winningest manager changed that in a hurry in 1955, when he guided the “Bums” to a World Series defeat of the Yankees in seven games. He went with the Dodgers out to Los Angeles in 1959, where he promptly won another title. In 1963 and again in 1965, Walter Alston, on the strength of the best pitching in all of baseball, won championships; all told he would win seven NL pennants and the four World Series. Alston, known for signing one year contracts with the Dodgers, made the ten winningest managers roster with his 2.040- 1,613 mark over 23 seasons, before handing the reins to Tommy Lasorda, another Hall of Fame manager. Alston had at his disposal the likes of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and Don Sutton- a trio of Hall of Fame pitchers.

7. Bobby Cox- Cox managed the Atlanta Braves when he was young and they were bad until he was old and they were good. In between, this still active top ten winningest manager skippered the Toronto Blue Jays for four seasons. Bobby Cox played two seasons with the Yankees, hitting only .225, but at the helm of the Braves he has experienced Yankee type success, at least when it comes to winning his division. Starting in 1991, and excluding the strike season of 1994, Cox has won 14 National League East titles in a row, the most division crowns of any of these ten winningest managers. Five times his teams have won the pennant, but only once have they been victorious in the World Series, in 1995 over the Indians. With 2,092 wins against 1,603 losses, Bobby Cox could wind up as high as number three among the ten winningest managers if he stays in the game long enough. Cox turned 65 in May of this year. Eventually, he will too will be Hall of Fame bound.

6. Joe McCarthy- This man’s winning percentage of .615, with 2,125 wins versus 1,333 defeats, is the best of any of the ten winningest managers. Already a success with the Chicago Cubs from 1926-1930, where he won a pennant in 1929, Joe McCarthy took over the Yankees in 1931 from Miller Huggins and led them until 1946. In that time he won eight pennants and seven world titles, losing only to the Cardinals in the 1942 Fall Classic, tying him with Stengal for the most championships among the ten winningest managers. In his first 13 seasons, New York finished worse than second only once. He managed Boston for three seasons, were he won sixty percent of his games. Joe McCarthy is the only one of the ten winningest managers never to have played in the major leagues. He is the only man to have managed all six of these Hall of Famers- Hack Wilson, Rogers Hornsby, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and Ted Williams!

5. Bucky Harris- Born Stanley Raymond Harris, he is only one of two of the top ten winningest managers to win a title as a player/manager, in 1924 with the Senators. It was his first year as a big league manager, and Harris would win the AL pennant the next year but lose the Series to Pittsburgh. He won the 1947 championship with the New York Yankees, but spent most of his over 4,400 games in the dugout with the Senators, in three separate stints. Harris had a losing record of 2,157-2218, with the second most losses of any skipper, but it is doubtful that any of the ten winningest managers could have done much with woeful Washington for all those years.

4. Sparky Anderson was nicknamed “Captain Hook”, as he would wear a path from the dugout to the pitcher’s mound, removing hurlers from the game. He played the 1959 season with the Phillies, where he failed to hit a home run and batted but .218; excellence on the playing field was obviously not a prerequisite to gaining entrance to the top ten winningest managers’ fraternity. Anderson won 863 games in nine seasons as the Reds’ field general, and another 1,331 in eighteen years at the Detroit Tiger helm. As the skipper of the “Big Red Machine of the Seventies, George Lee Anderson took four NL titles and won back to back Series in 1975 and 1976; the ’75 World Series against the Red Sox may have been the most exciting that any of these ten winningest managers was involved in. Sparky won his lone title with the Tigers in 1984, when he sent them out of the gate to a 35-5 start, the best start to a season by any of the ten winningest managers. Anderson called it quits after the 1995 campaign.

3. Tony LaRussa- He played parts of six seasons in the American League, but never hit a homer in 176 at bats. As a still-working top ten winningest manager though, LaRussa has knocked it out of the park. The Hall of Fame waits for him, as he now is the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, where he has taken five division crowns and a pennant, in 2004. Tony went to three consecutive World Series with the Oakland A’s, from 1988-1990, winning the middle one, the “earthquake Series” against the Giants. 62 years old on October 4th of this year, Tony LaRussa has a chance to make it to number two on the ten winningest managers’ role call if he decides to keep at it. He began 2005 with a 2,214-1,908 mark, including eight seasons as the skipper of the White Sox from 1979-1986.

2. John McGraw- None of the ten winningest managers, or any manager for that matter, ever so thoroughly had control of his charges as did John McGraw of the New York Giants. A gritty, gutty player for 16 seasons during the infancy of the game, McGraw was so huge in New York that his retirement in the middle of the 1932 season pushed Lou Gehrig’s four home run game into the background on the Gotham papers. The “Little Napolean” ran his club with an iron hand, with the undivided attention of his men. He won ten National League pennants, two as a player/manager, the most by any of the ten winningest managers, and three separate World Series, with a brazen, arrogant style that made his Giants the most hated team in the sport. As a player, he would do anything to win, and this trait carried over to his managerial style. He had such immortals as Christy Matthewson and Mel Ott play for him, and they helped him compile a record of 2,763-1,948.

1. Connie Mack- Mack owns numerous records related to his longevity in baseball that just won’t be approached. He is easily first among the ten winningest managers in wins with 3,731, losses with 3,948, games managed with 7,755, and years as a big league manager with 53. His real name was Cornelius McGillicuddy, and he had a habit of putting a team together(in his case it was the Philadelphia Athletics) tearing it up and selling off his players, and then putting another together. He was the only man of the ten winningest managers that actually owned the ball club, making his job security moot. Winner of nine American League pennants and five World Series, among the “Tall Tactician’s” greatest players were Eddie Plank, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, and Lefty Grove. After he was done taking apart his great teams of the early Thirties, Connie Mack would finish in the first division just once in his last 16 years on the bench. Connie Mack finally retired in 1950 at the age of 87, another record that won’t be broken. This most prolific of the ten winningest managers died in 1956, at the age of 93.

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