Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Ralph Houk career retrospective
By ESPN Stats & Info
The Boston Red Sox have said that former manager Ralph Houk has died at 90 years old.
Houk appeared in just 91 games for the New York Yankees over a span of eight seasons from 1947-54. But he made his name known over the course of 3,157 career games as a big-league manager (1,619-1,531 overall record). His 1,619 wins are 15th most in MLB history, just 1 spot behind Lou Piniella.
His first year as a manager was in 1961 with Yankees which was a pretty special season in its own right as Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris staged their historic home run chase that season. He went on to win the World Series with the Yankees in each of his first two seasons ('61-62) and another pennant in his third. He wouldn't win another pennant after that in his subsequent 17 seasons.
He holds a unique place in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry since he's one of four men to manage both the teams(along with Frank Chance, Bucky Harris and Joe McCarthy). On September 30, 1973 Houk resigned from the Yankees, becoming the first of 20 manager changes that owner George Steinbrenner would make through 1995.
In between his two stints on both sides of that well-known rivalry, Houk managed the Detroit Tigers for five seasons, never finishing above 4th place in the AL East standings. This began a stretch when you could argue that Houk was always in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Houk managed the Tigers in 1975 when the Red Sox advanced to the World Series. He was still with the Tigers in 1977 and 1978 when the Yankees won back-to-back titles. Houk then managed the Red Sox from 1981 to 1984 as the Yankees advanced to the World Series in 1981 and the Tigers won the title in 1984.
But he'll always be remembered for that historic 1961 season in which he set an MLB record with 109 wins in his first MLB season as a manager. He also is on a list with people like Joe Torre, Bob Lemon, Casey Stengel and Bucky Harris as managers who won a World Series in their first year with the Yankees.