Harvey Frommer / Players / Yankees
Sports Profile: Joe McCarthy
by Harvey Frommer
Today marks the 26th anniversary of the death of Joseph Vincent McCarthy, Hall of Fame manager. He passed away in Buffalo, New York.
"A ballplayer has only two hours of concentrated work every day with occasional days off," the square-jawed Joe McCarthy said. "If he cannot attend to business with the high pay and the working hours so pleasant, something is wrong with him and he ought to move on."
That statement underscored the no-playing-games-with-me approach of Hall of Famer Joseph Vincent McCarthy who managed for two dozen winning seasons in the majors and posted a .614 winning percentage.
A minor leaguer player for 15 seasons, McCarthy never played in the major leagues, but is the winningest manager of all time. Fired by the Cubs after the 1930 season, McCarthy took over as manager of the Yankees in 1931 and was on the scene until 1946.
"Marse Joe" had his own Ten Commandments of Baseball and a severe dress code. He even had team's caps and uniforms cut larger so his Yankees would appear bigger and stronger. Players were told to shave before they came to the ballpark.
"This is your job. Shave before you come to work."
He held sway over all things from his seat in dugout. "I never roamed the dugout," he said. "I was there seated in the middle, the command post." Arguing with umpires was not for him. "I wanted to be around to manage he said. "I'm no good to the team if I'm not there."
"Never a day went by," Joe DiMaggio said, "when you didn't learn something from McCarthy." There were no hot dogs or peanuts in the Yankee dugout. All players except for the starting pitcher had to show up for breakfast in jackets and ties before 8:30 A.M. For McCarthy, his only focus was the game. He permitted himself no diversions, no hobbies, no distractions.
It was McCarthy who was the first manager to separate a pitching staff into starters and relievers. In 1932, McCarthy became the first manager to win pennants in both leagues when his Yankee beat his former team the Cubs in the World Series.
Then came three consecutive second-place finishes - and the unkind tag of "Second-Place Joe" was put on him by writers. The phrase stuck in the craw of the manager obsessed with winning and with control.
He had both from 1936-1939. The Yankees, featuring power baseball, won four consecutive World Championships. There were pennants in 1941, 1942, 1943. But the Yanks dropped to third place in 1944 and fourth place in 1945. McCarthy was drinking more than ever. There was a fourth place finish in 1945.
Then on May 24, 1946, 35 games into the season, Joseph Vincent McCarthy quit. "He was drinking too much," Joe DiMaggio told reporters."He wasn't eating right, and he was worried about the team because it was playing so lousy."
The team was playing lousy and so was McCarthy's relationship with new Yankee owners - Dan Topping, Del Webb and Larry MacPhail. In his 16 years in pinstripes his teams recorded 1,460 wins, 867 losses and an stounding .627 winning percentage.
There was a return to baseball by McCarthy in 1948 as manager of the Boston Red Sox and some fierce battles with the Yankees. He passed away in 1977 at age 90.
Joe McCarthy's Ten Commandments for Success in the Major Leagues:
1. Nobody can become a ballplayer by walking after a ball.
2. You will never become a .300 hitter unless you take the bat off your shoulder.
3. An outfielder who throws after a runner is locking the barn door after the house is stolen.
4. Keep your head up, and you may not have to keep it down.
5. When you start to slide, slide. He who changes his mind may have to change a good leg for a bad one.
6. Do not alibi on bad hops. Anybody can field the good ones.
7. Always run them out. You can never tell.
8. Do not quit.
9. Do not fight too much with the umpires. You cannot expect them to be as perfect as you.
10. A pitcher who hasn't control, hasn't anything.