Sports Profile: Joe
Today marks the 26th anniversary of the death of Joseph Vincent
McCarthy, Hall of Fame manager. He passed away in Buffalo, New York.
"A ballplayer has only two hours of concentrated work every day with
occasional days off," the square-jawed Joe McCarthy said. "If he cannot
attend to business with the high pay and the working hours so pleasant,
something is wrong with him and he ought to move on."
That statement underscored the no-playing-games-with-me approach of Hall
of Famer Joseph Vincent McCarthy who managed for two dozen winning
seasons in the majors and posted a .614 winning percentage.
A minor leaguer player for 15 seasons, McCarthy never played in the
major leagues, but is the winningest manager of all time. Fired by the
Cubs after the 1930 season, McCarthy took over as manager of the Yankees
in 1931 and was on the scene until 1946.
"Marse Joe" had his own Ten Commandments of Baseball and a severe dress
code. He even had team's caps and uniforms cut larger so his Yankees
would appear bigger and stronger. Players were told to shave before they
came to the ballpark.
"This is your job. Shave before you come to work."
He held sway over all things from his seat in dugout. "I never roamed
the dugout," he said. "I was there seated in the middle, the command
post." Arguing with umpires was not for him. "I wanted to be around to
manage he said. "I'm no good to the team if I'm not there."
"Never a day went by," Joe DiMaggio said, "when you didn't learn
something from McCarthy." There were no hot dogs or peanuts in the
Yankee dugout. All players except for the starting pitcher had to show
up for breakfast in jackets and ties before 8:30 A.M. For McCarthy, his
only focus was the game. He permitted himself no diversions, no hobbies,
It was McCarthy who was the first manager to separate a pitching staff
into starters and relievers. In 1932, McCarthy became the first manager
to win pennants in both leagues when his Yankee beat his former team the
Cubs in the World Series.
Then came three consecutive second-place finishes - and the unkind tag
of "Second-Place Joe" was put on him by writers. The phrase stuck in the
craw of the manager obsessed with winning and with control.
He had both from 1936-1939. The Yankees, featuring power baseball, won
four consecutive World Championships. There were pennants in 1941, 1942,
1943. But the Yanks dropped to third place in 1944 and fourth place in
1945. McCarthy was drinking more than ever. There was a fourth place
finish in 1945.
Then on May 24, 1946, 35 games into the season, Joseph Vincent McCarthy
quit. "He was drinking too much," Joe DiMaggio told reporters."He wasn't
eating right, and he was worried about the team because it was playing
The team was playing lousy and so was McCarthy's relationship with new
Yankee owners - Dan Topping, Del Webb and Larry MacPhail. In his 16
years in pinstripes his teams recorded 1,460 wins, 867 losses and an
stounding .627 winning percentage.
There was a return to baseball by McCarthy in 1948 as manager of the
Boston Red Sox and some fierce battles with the Yankees. He passed away
in 1977 at age 90.
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Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
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Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
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