Cubs History

Part II: How well did Cubs player-managers perform over the years?

Richard Johnson
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs / Wrigley Field
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Some names you’re no doubt familiar with are up next

Rogers Hornsby (1930-32), 141-116, .549

"Hornsby was so disliked that when a firecracker in the stands went off during a lull in a game, Woody English, who actually liked the Rajah, remembered thinking that somebody must have just shot Hornsby. – C. Paul Rogers III"

If all Cubs player-managers were suddenly to return from the dead, Hornsby would be the one least likely to get a job. Mike Scioscia, Mike Schildt, and perhaps Joe Maddon are all examples of what happens to a manager today when they don’t get along with the front office. As indicated in the article quoted above, Hornsby didn’t get along with anyone. He certainly would have failed in today’s corporate baseball managerial environment.

Hornsby did not have his teams run much. However, the Cubs attempted sacrifice bunts at a well above average rate. This seems peculiar, but Hornsby may have been adjusting to the changing nature of the Cubs roster. The last big homer season for the Cubs juggernaut of this era was 1930, when they slammed 171 dingers (Hornsby managed just a handful of games at the end of this season). The total dropped to 84 in 1931, and 69 in 1932.

Hornsby himself was about done as a player in 1932, and a player who can’t hit or interact with other humans isn’t long for the roster. General Manager Bill Veeck, Sr. dispatched Hornsby through the F Gate after the 99th game. He was replaced by …

Charlie Grimm (1932-36), 396-272, .593, 2 pennants

Grimm was the anti-Hornsby: an alright player but a terrific person. The effects of a manager’s personality on a team are almost impossible to measure, but Grimm took a squad that was five games out on the morning of Aug. 4 and had them roaring into first exactly one week later. The Cubs would never surrender that lead, though the Evil Empire would sweep them in the 1932 World Series.

Grimm had his teams steal a bit more than average, not always to great effect.  But the running game came together in 1935, when the Cubs led the league in stolen base and extra base success rates. He generally sacrificed more than average, but some of that may have been because Billy Herman frequently bunted; he was in the top 10 in sacrifice bunts seven times in his career.

Grimm continued purely as a manager until July 20, 1938, when he moved to the broadcast booth. He was replaced by …

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