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When Babe Was Almost A Manager: LARRY MacPHAIL


    Babe Ruth, baseball's legendary home-run hitter, had one great desire that remained unfulfilled throughout his long and storied career: He wanted to be a major league manager. er.


That nearly happened in Cincinnati.


The year was 1934. Owen "Donie" Bush had skippered the Reds in 1933 and had failed miserably. The Reds had finished last, winning only 58 games. The turnstiles were quiet. Cincinnati had drawn only a shade over 218,000 fans. General manager Larry MacPhail wanted to change things around.


Bush was dismissed as manager and MacPhail looked for a new Reds leader. He thought seriously about Babe Ruth. Had MacPhail been able to secure Rurh's release from the New York Yankees, the Bambino would have been installed as the Cincinnati manager for the 1934 season.

      MacPhail first became interested in Ruth when an American League club owner told the Reds general manager that Yankees owner Jake Ruppert had agreed to give Ruth his release in order to manage.


At one time there appeared to be three spots open for Ruth: Chicago, Boston and Detroit. But these were filled - Lew Fonseca went to the White Sox, Bucky Harris went to the Red Sox and Mickey Cochrane went to the Tigers.


MacPhail's informant told him that Rurh said he would be willing to manage a club for a salary of $35,000.

    "This may look like a large sum," the club owner reportedly told MacPhail, "bur you would make it up during your training trip and on your first jaunt around the circuit. Ruth has never played in the National League and he would be a wonderful drawing card so long as he is able to play right field.

"I believe that it would be a good investment for you and that Ruth would be a first-class manager, even if he played only 50 games or so during the season."


MacPhail was convinced. He wanted Ruth and set a plan in motion to secure his services.


    He asked his American League friend to find out if Ruppert would release Ruth to the Reds.


    The answer came quickly. "No." MacPhail was told that Ruppert would let the Babe go to any other American League club, but would not send him to the National League. The American League didn't want to lose a big drawing card.

    That's as close as Ruth ever came to becoming a major league manager. He eventually traveled to the National League as a player with the Boston Braves. Later he was a coach with the Braves and Dodgers. Bur the chance to manage a major league team eluded him. im. im.

When MacPhail failed to land Rurh as his 1934 manager, he selected Bob O'Farrell, a catcher with the Cardinals. O'Farrell failed to last the season, and he was replaced by Charles Dressen who managed the Reds until Bill McKechnie came in 1938.






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