Whitey Herzog: Meet Your Baseball Hall Of Fame Inductee

Joining Andre Dawson and Doug Harvey in Cooperstown this weekend will be Whitey Herzog, a man who famously said, "baseball has been good to me since I quit trying to play it."

After an unspectacular eight-year career as a player, Herzog served as a general manager, scout, and farm system director, but he's joining the Baseball Hall of Fame on the merits of a managing career that featured three National League pennant wins and one World Series championship.

Rk Year Age Tm Lg G W L W-L% Finish
1 1973 41 Texas Rangers AL 1st of 3 138 47 91 .341 6
2 1974 42 California Angels AL 2nd of 3 4 2 2 .500 6
3 1975 43 Kansas City Royals AL 2nd of 2 66 41 25 .621 2
4 1976 44 Kansas City Royals AL 162 90 72 .556 1
5 1977 45 Kansas City Royals AL 162 102 60 .630 1
6 1978 46 Kansas City Royals AL 162 92 70 .568 1
7 1979 47 Kansas City Royals AL 162 85 77 .525 2
8 1980 48 St. Louis Cardinals NL 3rd of 4 73 38 35 .521 4
9 1981 49 St. Louis Cardinals NL 51 30 20 .600 2 First half of season
10 1981 49 St. Louis Cardinals NL 52 29 23 .558 2 Second half of season
11 1982 50 St. Louis Cardinals NL 162 92 70 .568 1 WS Champs
12 1983 51 St. Louis Cardinals NL 162 79 83 .488 4
13 1984 52 St. Louis Cardinals NL 162 84 78 .519 3
14 1985 53 St. Louis Cardinals NL 162 101 61 .623 1 NL Pennant
15 1986 54 St. Louis Cardinals NL 161 79 82 .491 3
16 1987 55 St. Louis Cardinals NL 162 95 67 .586 1 NL Pennant
17 1988 56 St. Louis Cardinals NL 162 76 86 .469 5
18 1989 57 St. Louis Cardinals NL 164 86 76 .531 3
19 1990 58 St. Louis Cardinals NL 1st of 3 80 33 47 .413 6
Texas Rangers 1 year 138 47 91 .341 6.0
California Angels 1 year 4 2 2 .500 6.0
Kansas City Royals 5 years 714 410 304 .574 1.4
St. Louis Cardinals 11 years 1553 822 728 .530 2.9 3 Pennants and 1 World Series Title
Total 18 years 2409 1281 1125 .532 2.8 3 Pennants and 1 World Series Title
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/23/2010.

 

Midway through the 1975 season, Herzog took over as manager of the Kansas City Royals, who had shown promise in their first six years of existence but had yet to take the next step. Under Herzog's leadership, the Royals finished the season by winning 41 of their final 66 games.

The next season, Herzog led the Royals to what would be the first of three consecutive division titles. They were dealt ALCS losses by the Yankees all three times, but Herzog played a large part in building the foundation for the Royals of the 1980s, who would reach the World Series in 1980 and win it in 1985.

Herzog jumped to the other side of Missouri in 1980 to simultaneously serve as manager and general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, and he used his uncommon degree of authority to bring St. Louis a World Series championship in 1982. He took the Cards to two more World Series appearances, losing to his former Royals in seven games in 1985, and falling to the Minnesota Twins in 1987.

His strategy became known as Whiteyball. Contrary to managerial norms, Herzog valued speed and getting on base over home run power. Look, for example, at his 1982 World Series champions: no players hit more than 20 home runs, and only two registered in double digits, but four players stole 24 or more bases.

Herzog's career .532 winning percentage as a manager, his ability to build a championship team from the front office while managing it in the dugout, and his shrewd, unconventional strategy more than justify his induction into Cooperstown this weekend.

During his acceptance speech on Sunday, Herzog may very well lobby on behalf of his deceased friend, Roger Maris, who is not in the Hall of Fame. Herzog once said this of Maris:

"You couldn't play right field any better than Roger did. He could make every throw, play shallow, and then go get the ball. Roger Maris is probably the best ballplayer to ever play the game who isn't in the Hall of Fame."

This weekend, read fans' thoughts on Whitey Herzog at SB Nation's Cardinals blog, Viva El Birdos, and our Royals blog, Royals Review.

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