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Name the fomer Ranger entering the Hall of Fame this weekend

I had the pleasure of seeing 15 games in the 1973 Texas Rangers baseball season.  That team was not very good, although for a month in the summer they played pretty decent baseball.  The manager for most of that season was Whitey Herzog.

 

A few years ago, I saw an ESPN live interview where David Clyde, a drafted pitcher out of a Houston area high school that summer that started two consecutive games in 1973 that drew 68,000 plus people, called Herzog "Skip."  It is probable that Clyde never called Billy Martin "Skip."  In fact, Billy Martin may have been in part responsible for the demise of David Clyde.  Martin never trusted young players, but luckily Jim Sundberg and Mike Hargrove somehow survived their rookie years with Martin in 1974.

 

Whitey Herzog had his own rules when he managed.  My best baseball friend in 1973 in Arlington was Rico Carty, one of the nicest people I have ever met.  But he did not like Herzog because Herzog "Did not back up his players."  Well, Herzog would back up his players if he thought they were right in arguing with an umpire, but I don't think really wanted to waste his time if he thought his players were wrong. 

 

I think Herzog worked well with young players, and veterans, and relied upon manufacturing runs like he did when managing in Kansas City and St. Louis.  He also didn't have problems in getting rid of players like Gary Templeton, Ted Simmons and Keith Hernandez when he didn't like them.  He would go out and get players like Ozzie Smith, Darrell Porter, and Jack Clark to replace them.

 

Probably his biggest talent in my opinion was the way he handled pitchers.  Lee Tunnel who went to my High School years after I graduated and played for Pittsburgh and St Louis, among other teams in the majors, actually agreed with my assessment of Herzog on a sports radio show in Austin I heard on a Saturday morning once. 

 

While Whitey Herzog may have the worst won-loss record of any manager with the Rangers, 47-91 in 1973 before Bob Short fired him, still he was my favorite manager.  I saw some approaches by the man in my 15 trips to Arlington Stadium that summer before I headed back to college that impressed me. 

 

In 1975 he started managing the Kansas City Royals, the major rival for the Texas Rangers in much of the 1970s.  He led the Royals to three division titles and two second place finishes.  In 1980, Herzog took a job with the Cardinals as GM and manager.  He won a world series and two pennants with the Cardinals, and in 1982 I had the pleasure of seeing him manage 15 games at Bush Stadium.  Ironically, this was while I was in grad school in St. Louis County.  He broke the mold in managing, with most baseball experts considering his teams to be over-achievers. 

 

He didn't take guff from players or umps.  He seemed to work well with young players, but trusted his veterans to apply their experience to make a team better.  This Sunday he goes into the Hall of Fame as a manager, selected by the veterans committee.  And I feel, and perhaps this is a stilted view, that Whitey Herzog is the best manager I have ever seen in my lifetime, and I saw him first manage with the Texas Rangers. 




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