August 9, 2005


Gene Mauch, 79; Manager of Angels, Other Major League Baseball Teams (Tim Brown, August 9, 2005, LA Times)

Gene Mauch, who in a 26-year career managed and won more major-league baseball games than anyone to have never reached a World Series, including two near-misses with the then-California Angels, died Monday of lung cancer. He was 79.

Mauch, a heavy smoker, died at 3:45 p.m. at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage.

After playing for six teams in nine seasons, Mauch began a managerial career that would become as notable for its wrenching failures as for its innovations and longevity.

He began with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1960, and continued with the Montreal Expos, Minnesota Twins and, in two stints in the 1980s, the Angels.

He managed three teams — the 1964 Philadelphia Phillies and the 1982 and 1986 Angels — to the brink of the World Series, only to fall agonizingly short. The Phillies lost 10 consecutive games in the final two weeks of the season, and ultimately the National League pennant to the St. Louis Cardinals by one game.

Both Angel teams needed to win once in the final three games of their American League championship series, and did not. The second championship series came down to a strike, a Donnie Moore forkball and a Dave Henderson home run in Game 5 [...]

A keen baseball strategist, Mauch's reputation was for playing for one run, a baseball tactic known as "little ball," and for making use of squeeze bunts and the hit-and-run. He was among the first to manage to batter-pitcher matchups, playing hitters because of their past success against particular pitchers long before the detailed statistical analyses used in today's game were available.

"He did it before you had … people paying $60,000 for computer printouts," said Geoff Zahn, who pitched five seasons for the Angels. "Gene just pored over box scores."

As for "little ball," Zahn said, "The little ball we played was with [light hitters Tim] Foli and [Bob] Boone. It wasn't playing little ball with Don Baylor and Reggie Jackson."

It's a terrible tragedy to love something so much and understand it so little.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 9, 2005 6:05 AM

A few thoughts about Mauch:
1) He panicked in '64, going with Bunning and Short back-and-forth...that's basically telling your team you have no faith in them.

2) 1986: Ill never understand bringing in Lucas to pitch to Gedman in...he should have left Witt in the game...of course, had DeCinces hit a sac fly with the bases loaded and no outs, the series would have been over....

3) anyway, even after losing game 5, they had to go back and lose 2 more in Boston

3) I think things might have turned out differently for the Halos had Wally Joyner not gotten that mysterious leg infection

4) 1986 (Angels-Sox; Mets-Astros; Mets-Sox) remains the most exciting post season I've seen...

Posted by: Foos at August 9, 2005 2:07 PM

Let me just say, compared to Don Zimmer, Gene Mauch was Tony LaRussa, Bill James, and Einstein rolled into one.

Posted by: H.D. Miller at August 9, 2005 4:22 PM

To quote Joe Theisman: he was a regular Norman Einstein!

Posted by: Foos at August 9, 2005 5:24 PM