Bernstein: Paul Richards, maker of major league managers

From Jonathan Bernstein at Baseball Prospectus on February 20, 2013:

This is the story of Paul Richards, underappreciated manager factory. It’s been almost 40 years since he last held forth from a dugout, and more than 50 since his real managerial career ended. The careers of the last of the (many, many) managers who played for him has long since come to an end. And yet Paul Richard’s managerial grandchildren, and great grandchildren, are still all over the place—and indeed, most World Series managers still can trace back their baseball lineage directly to him.

Richards, nowadays, is probably most famous as the driving force behind the “Oriole Way”—the fundamentals-based training plan often credited for turning the sad-sack former St. Louis Browns into a premier franchise of the 1960s and 1970s. Or perhaps as the modern innovator of what Rob Neyer coined the “Waxahachie swap,” a managerial maneuver that involves putting a pitcher into the outfield in order to keep him in the game so that he can return to the mound for a platoon advantage. Richards’ biographer, Warren Corbett, argues in a SABR article that Richards was far ahead of his time in terms of modern baseball analysis, using OBP, for example, long before Total Baseball or The Bill James Abstracts.

What concerns me here, however, is just a piece of that: his amazing ability to generate managerial careers. Richards had three stints as a major-league manager: four years with the White Sox from 1951 through 1954; seven years with the Orioles from 1955 through 1961 (he gave up the job in September of ’61); and then a late, ill-fated reprise with the Sox in 1976. That’s 12 years. Before that, he was a player-manager in the low minors for five years, and then after returning to the majors as a player during World War II, he managed in Triple-A for four years before taking over the White Sox.

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Originally published: February 19, 2013. Last Updated: February 19, 2013.