3. Johnny Keane
Keane never played in the major leagues. In 1964 he led the St. Louis Cardinals to the World Series where they beat the Yanks in seven games. Watching the Cardinals play that year, I thought that he did a brilliant job managing them during the regular season and the postseason.
For some unexplained reason, Keane resigned immediately after the Redbirds beat the Yanks in the World Series. He then signed to be the manager of the Yanks five days later. At the time, I (and many others) thought this was a coup for the Bombers. He replaced Ralph Houk, who was considered to be a player’s manager.
In 1965 Keane guided the Yankees to a 77-85 record (.475), the team’s first losing season in 40 years. In 1966 Keane and the Yanks lost 16 of their first 20 games. A very bad start, and he was fired immediately. This was the first time in the history of the club that a manager was dismissed in midseason since 1910. Ironically, he was replaced by Ralph Houk.
Keane had an aloof, distant manner, and he was in awe of the Yankees culture and dynasty. In the book, I Managed Good, But Boy Did They Play Bad, Jim Bouton writes that Keane underestimated the problems the team faced at the time, especially the challenge of overseeing an aging veteran team.
In the book, Ball Four Bouton writes that Keane was prone to panic and lose control during crucial parts of games. During one game Keane strongly pressured Mickey Mantle to play on a severely injured leg. Mantle finally told him that he was in too much pain and couldn’t play.
Not exactly a player’s manager. Score one point for those who argue one should play in the major league before one manages in the major league. Keane finished with an overall record of 81-101 as the Yankee skipper (.445).