Former Boston Red Sox manager John McNamara has died. He was 88.
McNamara signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1951 but wasn’t much of a professional player. But though he was never ticketed for a big league playing career, he was recognized early on as manager material. He began that phase of his career in 1959 in the Kansas City Athletics’ system, working his way up and helping develop some of the game’s future stars such as Sal Bando, Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi, Rollie Fingers and many more. He won three minor-league pennants — in 1961 with Lewiston, in 1966 with Mobile, and 1967 with Birmingham — before joining the big league coaching staff in 1968. At the end of the 1969 season, at the age of 37, McNamara was named the A’s big league skipper.
McNamara would only hold that job for one full season before being replaced by Dick Williams, at which point he went on to coach with the Giants for the 1971-73 campaigns. He’d be hired to be the Padres manager from 1974-77, then managed the Reds from 1979-83, the Angels from 1983-84, and then, finally, would take over the Red Sox in 1985.
In 1986 McNamara was named American League Manager of the Year after leading the Sox to a 95-win season. They’d go on to win the AL Pennant as well and, famously, would lose the World Series to the Mets in seven games. McNamara would take considerable criticism for decisions he made during the 1986 Fall Classic, even if more of the public blame fell on some of his players at the time.
McNamara would stay in the job in Boston until midway through the 1988 campaign, after which he’d be fired in favor of Joe Morgan. He’d manage the Cleveland Indians in 1990 and 1991 and then, finally, serve as an interim manager for the Angels once again for 28 games in 1996.
In the end, McNamara managed for all or parts of 19 seasons, compiling a record of 1,167–1,242.