Thursday, August 27, 2009

Grandstand Manager's Day

On August 24, 1952, showman/franchise owner Bill Veeck staged a brilliant stunt. His St. Louis Browns (at the time 38-81) were playing the Philadelphia Athletics, and he announced that the game would be played as "Grandstand Manager's Day." Fans found a ballot in the local newspaper, voted on the starting lineup, and mailed in their ballot. Each person who voted received a free ticket to the game. As they entered the game, the fans were given giant placards, with YES on one side and NO on the other. The Browns' publicity manager held up cards (like above) asking fans to vote on what move the team should make.

Here's how Veeck himself described the scene in his memoir Veeck as in Wreck
The fans were brilliant. To begin with, they had made two changes to our regular lineup, putting Sherm Lollar behind the plate and Hand Arft at first base. Lollar collected three of our nine hits, scored three runs and drove in three including the game-winning home run....

As for our regular manager, Zack Taylor, he reclined in a rocking chair on top of the dugout, in civilian clothes and bedroom slippers, and just leaned back and puffed a long, curved pipe. Summers [the chief umpire] told him he had to get off the field, not because of the rocking chair or the pipe but because he wasn't in uniform. So we moved Zack, the rocking chair and the pipe into a box just beside our dugout....

...the game took just over two hours, despite all the tabulating...

We won the game 5-3 to end a four-game losing streak. I retired all my amateur managers with honors, went back to my professional, and lost five of the next six games.
[Thanks to the MLB Network for showcasing this game this morning on Quick Pitch.]

It got me to thinking. Red Sox fans are the greatest armchair managers going. They are all sure they could play a better OF than Drew, or hit the ball harder than Ortiz, or manage better than Francona. Wouldn't it be great to try something like this? Let Tito sit in his smoking jacket and watch - and I suspect he'd have the last laugh.

[You can read in more detail about Grandstand Manager's Day here]

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