It may seem a strange choice for an Orioles blogger to write about a former Yankees manager and a former Yankees outfielder on the weekend that the Bronx Bombers visit Camden Yards for a three-game set. However, there’s good reason for that decision.
With his next win, former Yankees manager Buck Showalter will tie former Yankees outfielder Hank Bauer on the Orioles’ all-time managerial wins list at 407. Should the Orioles win the weekend series, Showalter will pass Bauer while New York is in town.
Bauer has the third-most wins of any Orioles manager. Earl Weaver, of course, is tops with 1,480 wins, followed by Paul Richards with 517 wins. Then there’s Bauer, at least for the moment. (If you go by franchise history, you would need to include Jimmy McAleer’s 551 wins and Luke Sewell’s 432 wins; both men managed the St. Louis Browns.)
Bauer brought Baltimore its first pennant and its first World Series in 1966. The Orioles were the only American League team to surpass 90 wins in 1966. They finished 97-63, nine games ahead of the second-place Minnesota Twins, who went 89-73.
Last place in the 10-team American League that season belonged to the 70-89 New York Yankees. It would be their second of three consecutive losing seasons after five straight World Series appearances.
New York wouldn’t endure three consecutive losing seasons again until 1989 through 1991. That’s when they hired Showalter who, after one losing season, righted the ship and led the team to three winning seasons before being dismissed following the 1995 campaign.
While it’s always enjoyable to revel in Yankee misfortune, it would be disingenuous to not acknowledge that Orioles president and general manager Lee MacPhail brought Bauer to Baltimore in part because of the success he experienced as a member of the Yankees dynasty. First base coach Gene Woodling and third base coach Billy Hunter both played with Bauer in New York. Woodling was Bauer’s outfield platoon mate during their time with the Yankees.
Bauer had far and away his most managerial success in Baltimore. Showalter, meanwhile, belongs to Baltimore. He has managed more seasons here than anywhere else and has his most career wins in orange and black. His .531 winning percentage is just shy of the career-best .539 mark he posted during his time in New York.
At the outset of the 20th century, the Baltimore Orioles became the New York Highlanders, the forerunners of the Yankees. Baltimore also gave birth to the greatest Yankee, Babe Ruth. It’s only fair that New York give something back, in this case two of the Orioles’ most successful managers.
This weekend’s series offers the Orioles a chance to surpass the .500 mark and cut into the Yankees’ division lead. Beyond the usual storylines, however, is the opportunity for that former Yankees manager to surpass the former Yankees outfielder on the Orioles’ all-time wins list.
Matthew Taylor blogs about the Orioles at Roar from 34. Follow him on Twitter: @RoarFrom34. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.