HomeMLB RumorsWhitey Herzog Passes Away - MLB Trade Rumors

Whitey Herzog Passes Away – MLB Trade Rumors

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Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog has passed away at 92. The Cardinals announced the news on Tuesday morning. Herzog’s family provided a brief statement, as relayed by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (on X): “Whitey spent his last few days surrounded by his family.  We have so appreciated all of the prayers and support from friends who knew he was very ill.  Although it is hard for us to say goodbye, his peaceful passing was a blessing for him.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred released the following statement:

Whitey Herzog was one of the most accomplished managers of his generation and a consistent winner with both ‘I-70’ franchises.  He made a significant impact on the St. Louis Cardinals as both a manager and a general manager, with the Kansas City Royals as a manager, and with the New York Mets in player development.  Whitey’s Cardinals’ teams reached the World Series three times in the 1980s, winning the Championship in 1982, by leaning on an identity of speed and defense that resonated with baseball fans across the world.

On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to Whitey’s family, his friends across the game, and the fans of the Cardinals and the Royals.

Herzog is best known for his legendary managerial run, but his time in professional baseball started as a player. He signed with the Yankees out of high school and spent a few seasons in the New York farm system. The Yankees traded him to the Washington Senators on the eve of the 1956 campaign. Herzog made his MLB debut in Washington, appearing in more than 100 games as a regular outfielder and hitting .245/.302/.337 as a rookie.

After Herzog made brief appearances with the Senators in each of the next two campaigns, Washington sold his contractual rights to the then-Kansas City A’s. He spent parts of three seasons with the A’s, hitting at a slightly above-average clip (.268/.383/.384) in 209 games. Herzog continued to produce solid results as a part-time player for two years after being traded to the Orioles before finishing his playing days with a brief stint in Detroit. Over parts of eight seasons, he hit .257/.354/.365 with 25 home runs and 172 runs batted in.

While that would’ve been a solid enough career in its own right, Herzog’s status as one of the sport’s all-time figures developed in his post-playing days. After a brief stint as an A’s scout, he moved into coaching and player development with the Mets. After the 1972 campaign, he landed his first managerial gig with the Rangers. That didn’t go well, as Texas stumbled to a 47-91 record and Herzog was fired before the end of the season when the Rangers seized the opportunity to hire Billy Martin.

Herzog spent the next year on the Angels’ coaching staff, a stint that included a four-game run as interim manager. It wasn’t until 1975 when he got his first extended managerial opportunity. The Royals tabbed Herzog that July to take over from Jack McKeon. He led the team to a 41-25 record down the stretch, although that wasn’t enough to overcome a middling 50-46 start to snag a playoff berth.

While the ’75 team fell a few games shy of the postseason, the Royals found plenty of success over the next few years. Herzog guided the team to three straight AL West titles from 1976-78, the first playoff trips in franchise history. While they were knocked off by the Yankees in the ALCS in all three seasons, that stretch of excellent regular season showings was a prelude to October success the following decade.

Unfortunately for Royals fans, that came with their in-state rivals. After the Royals missed the playoffs in ’79, Herzog was hired by the Cardinals as both manager and GM. He set about rebuilding the team around speed, defense and contact hitting at the expense of power. While the so-called “Whiteyball” was initially met with some derision, Herzog guided the Cardinals back to the top of the sport.

St. Louis missed the postseason during his first two seasons at the helm before a 92-win showing to snag the NL East title in 1982. After sweeping the Braves in the NLCS, they took on the Brewers in the Fall Classic. The Cards came back from a 3-2 series deficit, erasing a 3-1 lead in Game 7. St. Louis missed the postseason over the next two years but rattled off 101 wins to secure another NL East title in 1985.

Herzog was named the Senior Circuit’s Manager of the Year. A six-game triumph over the Dodgers in the NLCS set the stage for a matchup with his old team. The Cards dropped a classic seven-game set to the upstart Royals, the first title in franchise history. There was no shortage of controversy. With the Cardinals up 3-2 in the series and taking a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth in Game 6, a missed call at first base by Don Denkinger spurred a rally in which Kansas City came back for a 2-1 win. The Royals won the seventh game convincingly.

St. Louis made it back to the World Series once more during Herzog’s tenure. They knocked off the Giants in the 1987 NLCS to set up a showdown with the Twins. That also went seven games, with Minnesota coming back from a 3-2 series deficit to win it. Herzog managed the Cards for another three seasons but didn’t make it back to October. His managerial days ended midway through the 1990 campaign, although he later had a brief stint leading baseball operations for the Angels.

Including his interim work with the Halos, Herzog managed parts of 18 seasons in the majors. He won nearly 1300 regular season games, three pennants and one World Series. The veterans committee inducted him into the Hall of Fame in 2009. He was enshrined in St. Louis’ organizational Hall of Fame a few years later. MLBTR joins countless others around the game in sending condolences to Herzog’s family, friends, loved ones and the many players whose careers he impacted over the decades.

Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.

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