1. Kid Elberfeld
Norman Arthur “Kid” Elberfeld played for several teams in the late 1800s and early 1900s, including the New York Highlanders between 1903 and 1909. In 1907 he stole home twice in the same game, the first American League player to accomplish that feat.
In June 1908, New York Highlanders Manager Clark Griffith resigned, and Elberfeld took over as the player-manager. The club finished the season, Elberfeld’s only season as an MLB manager, in last place with a horrible 27-71 record (and an awful .276 winning percentage).
Elberfeld was a true throwback to the way baseball used to be played. He had a fiery temper and was nicknamed “The Tobasco Kid.” He was well-known for his vicious verbal, and occasionally physical, assaults on umpires. He also injured numerous players by always sliding into second base with his spikes high.
While a minor leaguer, he once shoved mud into an umpire’s open mouth. Later in his career, he assaulted another umpire and had to be forcibly removed from the game by police. He was thrown out of major league games 22 times as a player, and 4 times during the year he managed the Highlanders.
Interestingly, while in the minor leagues at the end of his career, Elberfeld took a very young Casey Stengel under his wing and mentored him. He and Stengel sat together on trains, roomed together in hotels, ate together in restaurants, shared thoughts on the bench, and spoke for hours about baseball. When Stengel was called up to play for the Brooklyn Robins, Elberfeld threw a farewell party for Stengel and walked him to the train station at the end of the night to send him off.
While the Yanks have had several bad managers in their history, the club has been extremely fortunate to have had many more great managers. My next essay shines a bright light on the top five Yankee skippers of all time.