Baseball’s offseason can get complicated – we’ve already seen that this year – though some situations are especially hard to explain.
Like the one that happened today in 1961, when the Chicago Cubs announced that they would not hire a manager for the new season, and would instead use a rotating series of coaches.
At the end of the 1960 season, Cubs manager Lou Boudreau quit the job, because he couldn’t get the team’s owner, Philip K. Wrigley, to offer him a two-year contract.
Normally the team would have just started choosing a new manager, but Wrigley had other plans.
First, he thought managers should really be called head coaches, and second, he wasn’t sure there even needed to be a head coach.
Why not turn the entire coaching staff into a rotation, like the starting pitchers, and use all their knowledge and experience?
On January 12th, 1961, Wrigley held a press conference in which he announced that the Cubs would be led by a College of Coaches.
The baseball world began mocking the Cubs’ plan as soon as it was announced.
Fans, sportswriters, Cubs stockholders, most everybody piled on, saying who ever heard of a baseball team without a manager?
Even Bill Veeck, the owner behind some of the most outlandish stunts in baseball history – the guy who had once let the fans manage a game – thought the College of Coaches was a bad idea.
But the league said if the Cubs didn’t want a manager, they didn’t have to have one, so they went forward.
The College of Coaches included four head coaches in its rotation that year.
The good news was that the team won more games in 1961 than it had the year before.
The bad news was that they were still 64-90, and year two of the College of Cardinals was even worse.
Rotating head coaches meant rotating lineups and strategies.
Players were confused, and since there was no manager they didn’t really have anyone they could approach about it.
And rather than having the coaches put their heads together, some of them seemed to be in competition.
They figured the College would eventually get shut down and they wanted to be the one in line to be permanent manager.
By 1963, Wrigley, the owner, reversed course and returned to having one person in charge of the team for the season.
But he kept the name “head coach” for several more seasons.
And the team didn’t play all that much better anyway.
Maybe you have a new year’s resolution to write more.
Or maybe you want to manage your time better this year.
Either way, this might help: the Author Clock has a screen that shows you the time not simply as a set of numbers, but as part of a quote from a well-known book.
They describe it as, of course, “a novel way to tell time.”
P.K. Wrigley and the College of Coaches (The Hardball Times)
Photo by Jordan via Flickr/Creative Commons