Manager Joe McCarthy’s Last Hurrah

From SABR member Steve Treder at The Hardball Times on April 27:

Joe McCarthy is widely regarded to be among the small handful of all-time best managers. As skipper of the Cubs (1926-30), Yankees (1931-46), and Red Sox (1948-50), he compiled an astounding aggregate winning percentage of .615 in nearly 3,500 games (and on top of that, a stupefying .698 in 43 World Series games). Bill James puts it about as directly as can be: “I believe that Joe McCarthy was the greatest manager in baseball history.” McCarthy was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1957.


Yet in the final chapter of his long career, the deeply competitive McCarthy met with mounting, and finally unbearable, frustration. The Boston Red Sox teams under his direction, prominently featuring the in-his-prime Ted Williams, were a lavishly talented crew, considered by all observers as more than capable of capturing a championship. But winning 96 games in both 1948 and 1949 achieved only second place, as Boston lost a single-game playoff to the Cleveland Indians in ’48, and then finished a single agonizing game behind the pennant-winning New York Yankees in ’49.

Thus McCarthy and his Red Sox entered the 1950 season with particularly intense urgency to make a pennant happen, at last, this time, to prove to the baseball world (and to themselves) that the best team in the American League, manager and players combined, was the Boston Red Sox.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: April 27, 2011. Last Updated: April 27, 2011.