Pete Mackanin – Who is this Guy?

As I noted in this piece a month ago the lifespan of a manager who takes an underperforming team into June has a long track record of being a man who is circulating his resume the following spring. The demise of Jerry Narron should not surprise many, probably not as much as the teams complete inability to hit doubles or provide sufficient 7th and 8th inning pitching does, but he is gone and seeing how he was the choice of Dan O’Brien and the extension was just a pat on the back (360K next year and ½ of that this year) I now see this as the final opportunity of Wayne Krivsky to save face on a season that has not only rankled Reds fans but also has made Krivsky’s future as the Reds GM somewhat questionable.

Granted his tenure has been short, and I usually don’t subscribe to knee jerk reactions to poor seasons or a bad run of decisions, however the rope is looking like it is somewhat short with the new ownership group and the scouting centric approach of Krivsky is one that focuses on “good “ bodies and athleticism (most of guys has he acquired could sell some jeans) has brought some good things the Reds way, however his love of the experienced backup and reliever has not worked out as planned. Seeing how the Reds underperformed their run differential the first half of the season I expect a swing back up, perhaps similar to the Jack McKeon swing in 1997. With this thought we are likely to hear stories in the press about “Loose” clubhouses, “Communication” and “One Day at a Time” approaches, IF the Reds win there will be rumblings and then the new skipper will have some backers in his corner for the job… count on it, so if that happens we have to ask….who the hell is Pete Mackanin?

Let’s go with the basics

Pete Mackanin
Full name Peter Mackanin
Born August 1, 1951, Chicago, Illinois

Pete’s generation represents the first one in MLB that was weaned on Little League, thus they tended to be less intense then the prior generation and more often then not this was applied to most of the players coming in to the game back then. Also of note is that Pete was weaned in Chicago where he didn’t see the best brand of ball, unless he latched onto the Stanky era White Sox, if he did then expect some run scratching now and then.

First Game: July 3, 1973; Final Game: October 3, 1981

Pete came up with the 1973 Texas Rangers, a team that a pretty good book could be written about. First off his manager was Whitey Herzog, who in his first job as a MLB manager was being coerced into pitching the teams 18 year future star David Wright. Most of us know the story, if you don’t then Google that name and cross your fingers when you think of Homer Bailey. Canned later that year Herzog was replaced by Billy Martin and in 1975 Pete ended up in Montreal, playing for…. Yep you guessed it.

Gene Mauch. Thus making Pete the third Mauch player the Reds have had a manager in the past 5 years.

Also an Expo in 1976 and 1977 Mackanin also was around for the infamous Karl Kuhn tenure and the subsequent arrival of Dick Williams (who also was a good friend of Herzog) In Philadelphia Pete played for Danny Ozark, a skipper who had a demeanor that was almost a polar opposite of the intense Mauch/Martin/Herzog persona. Pete finished up his career as a Major Leaguer in Minnesota, brought in by Gene Mauch again, Pete reaffirmed that he was not an impact bat in the game and by the age of 30 he was out of the big leagues. These facts overshadow some darn good years in AAA, including one in Spokane where Pete had 61 extra base hits and over 100 runs and 100 rbi’s.

Not many highlights in Pete’s big league career, this however probably counts as one. On May, 21st 1977 The Expos played the Padres, in a 21 inning contest, the Padres won 11-8 and Pete Mackanin played shortstop all 21 innings. The game was five and half hours long, Pete went 3-10 in that contest.

Managed First Game: September 2, 2005; Managed Final Game: October 2, 2005

Named Minor League Manager of the Year by The Sporting News (1995)

“Baseball has been good to me since I quit trying to play it.”

Whitey Herzog

“I get so keyed up during these games. All I did for 50 years was study the game day and night. And I will forever, for however long ‘forever’ is.”

Gene Mauch

“Another club can be beating you for six innings but for some reason the good ball clubs get tough and win them in the last three.”

Billy Martin

“Fundamentals are the most valuable tools a player can possess. Bunt the ball into the ground. Hit the cutoff man. Take the extra base. Learn the fundamentals.”

Dick Williams

“Half this game is 90% mental.”

Danny Ozark

Most managers are a product of the environment they were in as players, they tend to follow the paths and habits of their “teachers” and in the end that experience helps define them as teachers themselves. With Pete we’re going to see a bits and pieces of men that cut their teeth in the Yankees and the Dodger organizations in their prime, only Pete will be their conduit to the players in the Cincinnati dugout.

A manager in both the minors and the winter leagues Mackanin was the interim manager in Pittsburgh when Lloyd McClendon was let go and he even was the manager of the Indianapolis Indians in the early 1990’s and scuttlebutt is that he was relieved of his duties when he allowed his players to use Reds owner Marge Schott’s photo as the backing for a dart board in the clubhouse.

Pete becomes the first Reds manager in 10 years (or 4 managers ago) who did not earn his stripes as a catcher. This to me is a good thing, the recent managerial style of Narron, Miley and Boone tended to think that a hurler was on pitch away from figuring it out. The infielder manager (your Sparky’s, Johnson’s) tend to have a shorter leash having participated in those battles on the field as a less involved 3rd party. How it all pans out is something that exceeds my grasp and this team has been a major disappointment, it was a long shot bet to begin with, but going bust was not something that was expected so fast and so soon.

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