Great Baseball Managers Share their Wisdom

Unlike most major sports, baseball teams do not have a head coach - they have a manager. Leading a team of twenty plus individuals can be a difficult job regardless of the situation. Leading a group of 20 plus talented, headstrong, and incorrigible baseball players is an art form. Whether coaching in the youth ranks or the major leagues, baseball managers have a very specific role to fill.

Today, we will explore baseball wisdom shared by managers, famous quotes from managers, how this knowledge applies to baseball, and how many of these lessons translate to real life.

Great Managers Stick to their Decisions

In game two of the 1985 World Series, Royals Manager Dick Howser made a controversial pitching decision. Up 2-0 in the ninth inning, Howser elected to keep his starter in the game to close it out. The Cardinals rallied to score four (4) runs in the ninth, winning the game and going up two games to none in the series.

When asked about the move after the game, Howser defended and explained his decision. The Royal’s closer had an unfavorable matchup against the left handed Cardinals hitters due up in the ninth. Howser had confidence in his starter, and wanted to save his reliever for more favorable opportunities. Explanation over.

The significance of this decision is that Howser had the confidence to make the decision that he felt was right rather than simply making the “easy” choice of bringing in a reliever. It is more important to try and win the game than to make everyone happy. The Royals would go on to win the ‘85 series four games to three.

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Baseball Manager Quotes about the Manager’s Role

“It ain’t like football. You can’t make up no trick plays” - Yogi Berra. Though he may have had a tenuous grasp on the english language, Berra often spoke words of wisdom. There is no Bill Belichick of baseball - no strategic mastermind that can make in-game adjustments and win. Baseball is a game of talent, focus, discipline, and fundamentals.

“I don't believe a manager ever won a pennant. Casey Stengel won all those pennants with the Yankees. How many did he win with the Boston Braves and Mets?” - Sparky Anderson. Again, this quote shows Sparky’s belief that managers play second fiddle to their own players. This has been shown to be true...to an extent. Baseball head coaches are called managers for a reason. The job of a baseball manager is to create a winning atmosphere and give his or her players a chance to win.

More Manager Quotes Share Baseball Wisdom

“You can’t sit on a lead and run a few plays...and just kill the clock. You’ve got to throw the ball over the d*** plate and give the other man his chance.” - Earl Weaver. One of the greatest things about baseball is its fairness. Sure, luck plays a huge role - but luck is still impartial. There is no taking a knee in baseball. The game has no clock. If you want to win, your team must get three outs each inning no matter how long it takes.

“Competing at the highest level is not about winning. It's about preparation, courage, understanding and nurturing your people, and heart. Winning is the result.” - Joe Torre. Torre was a legendary manager who coached the New York Yankees to four (4) World Series titles between 1996 and 2000. This quote really says it all when it comes to a winning mindset. Players should not be focused on winning during the game - they should be focused on the task at hand. Winning baseball comes from hard work throughout the year, and executing when called upon.

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Fear as a Motivator vs. Fear as an Excuse

Everybody experiences fear in different ways. Many of us have experienced fear or anxiety going into a major event like a game, meeting, or even a date. A difference between high level baseball players and those who struggle is often how they interpret and utilize their fears. Baseball management is about putting players in a position to succeed. This is especially true for youth baseball, where players may lack confidence to be comfortable on the field.

Fear can be viewed one of two ways:

  1. Something to run away from

  2. Something to overcome

We should point out that many youth athletes suffer from legitimate anxiety or panic attack related mental health issues. These should be treated with the utmost seriousness. However, even for these individuals, working through fears can often be the best path towards improvement. Managers should strive to understand their players’ fears and work with players (and parents) to develop a plan to move forward in a positive way.

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