MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Paul Molitor became the latest Hall of Fame player to test his teaching skills when the Minnesota Twins hired him as their manager.
With Molitor preparing for his debut with the Twins this season, here’s a look back at a mixed-at-best track record of players with a plaque at Cooperstown who also took their turns trying to manage in the major leagues.
Berra became manager of the New York Yankees in 1964 after playing the previous 18 years in pinstripes and becoming one of the game’s greatest catchers. Berra oversaw a 99-63 record that was best in the American League and sent the brash Bronx Bombers to the World Series, but he was fired after that one season remembered best for his blow-up on the team bus when a player ignored his order to stop playing his harmonica.
Berra returned to run the Yankees in 1984 and managed them briefly the following year before becoming one of the many skippers to be fired by owner George Steinbrenner. Berra managed the New York Mets for three-plus seasons in the 1970s, too, but he finished with an overall losing record.
Lemon went 207-128 over 13 years as a pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, but his winning percentage as a manager wasn’t nearly that strong. After being fired by the Chicago White Sox in 1978, Lemon later joined the Yankees that summer to take over for Billy Martin. He led them to the World Series title. But Lemon didn’t last long there, or with the White Sox or Kansas City Royals earlier that decade.
Still holding on to ninth place on baseball’s all-time home run list, Robinson started managing while he was still playing for the Cleveland Indians. His peers didn’t always take to him suddenly becoming the boss, and he was fired during a slow start to the 1977 season, his first without the dual responsibility.
Robinson later managed the San Francisco Giants, the Baltimore Orioles, the team he spent six years with as a star slugger, and the Montreal Expos, moving with that franchise to Washington to become the Nationals. The Orioles infamously lost their first 21 games of the 1988 season. Second-place finishes by the Orioles in 1989 and the Expos in 2002 were Robinson’s best years as a skipper. He finished with a .475 winning percentage over 16 seasons.
The 55-year-old Sandberg still has time to reverse the trend as the current manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, but the 10-time Gold Glove award winner and beloved former Chicago Cubs second baseman has had a rough start with his aging, injury-affected team.
After taking over for Charlie Manuel late in the 2013 season, Sandberg’s Phillies went 73-89 last year despite a franchise-record payroll.
That .406 batting average reached in 1941 by the “Splendid Splinter” remains the gold standard, but his .429 winning percentage as a manager with the Washington Senators and Texas Rangers was rather forgettable. In his last of four years in charge, Williams went 54-100 for the Rangers in their first season after the Senators franchise moved in 1972. Intolerant of mistakes and unable to relate to players with lesser ability than he was blessed with, Williams resigned after that with one year left on his contract.
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