The Houston MLB Managerial Chain: 1962-2011

Larry Dierker: His 4 Playoff Clubs Tops All Other Houston Managers.

In their fifty National League seasons as the Houston Colt .45s (1962-1964) and Houston Astros (1995-2011), eighteen different men have served as field manager of the local franchise. This roll call includes two men who served only in the briefest of transitional roles as interim managers when things fell apart before season’s end.  Salty Parker managed one winning game between Harry Walker and Leo Durocher in 1972, and the current third base coach Dave Clark of the 2011 Astros crash-landed the 2009 club for the departing Cecil Cooper in 2009 with a 4-9 mark at season’s end.

All others had some time. Thanks to Baseball Almanac and a trusty calculator, here are the records of all managers who have served Houston MLB Baseball over the past half century. The list presents the group in chronological order, showing their place in the order of appearance, the years they each worked any part of a season, plus the totals number of separate seasons they each worked, their cumulative W-L records and Win Percentage.

As you probably already know, Bill Virdon was the first Astros manager to lead the club to the playoffs in 1980; Larry Dierker led the club to the most playoff appearances (1997, 1998, 1999, and 2001); and Phil Garner is the only man, so far, who has led the Astros to a World Series appearance. (You know the year for that one, right?)

Here’s the broad data bank on Houston big league managers. Two more notes: So far, too, no fired or retired Astros manager has ever returned for a second shot at the same job. Also, Brad Mills’ current dynamic record as the Houston manager is only good through the games of 2011 season that have been played through August 17th. The team won the final two game of the home Cubs series to reach the 40-84 mark for this year,

Houston Big League Managers: A Chronology

(1) Harry Craft (1962-64, 3 seasons) (191-280, .406) **

(2) Luman Harris (1964-65, 2 seasons) (70-105, .400)

(3) Grady Hatton (1966-68, 3 seasons) (164-221, .426)

(4) Harry Walker (1968-72, 5 seasons) (355-353, .501)

(5) Salty Parker (1972, 1 season) (1-0, 1.000)

(6) Leo Durocher (1972-73, 2 seasons) (98-95, .507)

(7) Preston Gomez (1974-75, 2 seasons) (128-161, .443)

(8) Bill Virdon (1975-81, 8 seasons) (544-522, .510)

(9) Bob Lillis (1982-85, 4 seasons) (276-261, .514)

(10) Hal Lanier (1986-88, 3 seasons) (254-232, .523)

(11) Art Howe (1989-93, 5 seasons) (392-418, .484)

(12) Terry Collins (1994-96, 3 seasons) (224-197, .532)

(13) Larry Dierker (1997-2001, 5 seasons) (448-362, .553)

(14) Jimy Williams (2002-04, 3 seasons) (215-197, .522)

(15) Phil Garner (2004-07), 4 seasons) (277-252, .524)

(16) Cecil Cooper (2007-09, 3 seasons) (171-170, .501)

(17) Dave Clark (2009, 1 season) (4-9, .308)

(18) Brad Mills (2010-11 ongoing, 2 seasons) (116-170, .406) *

*Dynamic record of active manager Brad Mills through games of 08-17-2011 and the 40-84 club record for 2011 through that date.

** For  a much more complete picture of the managerial picture on both the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers, check out the material on Astros Daily. Thanks to the work that Darrell Pittman and Bob Hulsey have done at Astros Daily, using Baseball Reference as their primary season data base source,

I discovered that Baseball Almanac,Com was guilty of a major data base error in their reporting of wins and losses for the Colt .45s in 1963. “BA” reports the team with only a 55-95 record in 1963, whereas, “BR” and all other sources I find show their 1963 record as 66-96. Thanks to Darrell and Company, I have now made amends to the damage that 1963 data error caused to my first reporting on the record for Harry Craft.

A subsequent data check confirms no additional errors beyond the one effecting Harry Craft. My figures here, including the ones for Harry Craft, square off exactly with those offered in the Astros Daily bottom lines on wins and losses for each of the eighteen men who have served the first half century as Houston MLB managers.

I hate errors, even though they are apparently inevitable.

In the meanwhile, check out this link to the fine report on this same subject at Astros Daily.

http://astrosdaily.com/history/managers/

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4 Responses to “The Houston MLB Managerial Chain: 1962-2011”

  1. Darrell Pittman Says:

    Bill, I hope you don’t mind me mentioning that we have a breakdown of the Houston Colt .45s/Astros managers at http://astrosdaily.com/history/managers/

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Darrell:

      I not only don’t mind, I thank you. I should have thought of you guys first and saved myself a lot of interesting work. I found a a big hole in some of the data from Baseball Almanac, thanks to you, and I was able to restore 11 wins against only 1 loss that “BA” had taken away from the first Colts manager Harry Craft. (See above for further details. I wrote it into the column.)

      Bill

  2. Dick "Lefty" O'Neal Says:

    Bill you know who I think was the best manager for Houston. My old buddy Larry Dierker, and in the end wasn’t given his do as the best. In fact he is the only player/manager/announcer for one organization in the history of modern day baseball I think! And a good friend. I need to speak at one of the SABR meetings and talk more about how he and I met!
    Dick “Lefty” O’Neal

  3. Bob Hulsey Says:

    Is Dierker the only one to have played, announced and managed for the same team? I’d have to think this through. I know several who have done two of three (Bob Brenly, Dizzy Dean, Phil Rizzuto, Joe Torre…).

    Okay. I’ve got one. The great senators pitcher Walter Johnson played (1907-1927), managed (1929-1932) and did radio (1939-?) for the Senators but, still, that’s not bad company.

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