Fred Girard Haney
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 6", Weight 170 lb.
- High School Polytechnic High School (Los Angeles)
- Debut April 18, 1922
- Final Game May 7, 1929
- Born April 25, 1896 in Albuquerque, NM USA
- Died November 9, 1977 in Beverly Hills, CA USA
Fred Haney played seven years in the majors but is much better remembered as a manager and front office executive. Born in New Mexico before it became a state, he moved with his family to Los Angeles, CA where he was a star athlete in high school, excelling in sports as diverse as football, water polo and handball. As a baseball player, he joined the local Los Angeles Angels in 1919 and 1920, when he was sent to Omaha of the Western League. When he had a good season for that team in 1921, the Detroit Tigers purchased his contract for 1922.
As a rookie player in 1922, playing for manager Ty Cobb, he hit .352 with an OBP of .439. He was an infielder, with third base his most frequent position. He played the game with Cobb's fiery spirit, regularly getting into scrapes and fights with opponents, although he was a quiet person, good family man and astute business man off the field. He stayed with the Tigers until 1925. Late that season, he was taken off the field unconscious after being beaned by Howard Ehmke of the Boston Red Sox. Ironically, he was traded to Boston after the season, but seemed to suffer the after-effects of the beaning in 1926, as he hit only .221. In 1927, he was sold to the Chicago Cubs, who in turn assigned him to the Indianapolis Indians of the American Association. He had a great year for Indianapolis in 1928, hitting for power and leading the league in stolen bases, something he would do regularly in future years. The St. Louis Cardinals then purchased his contract, and he played his last major league game for them in May of 1929.
Haney was far from finished as a player, however. Altogether, he played 16 seasons in the minors, some of them as a player-manager. In the immediate, he asked the Cards to send him back to the West Coast if they did not keep him on the team, which they did by selling his contract back to the Angels. Even though he had missed a good chunk of the season, he led the PCL in stolen bases in 1929 with 56, and did it again in 1930. In 1931, he had to have a kidney removed, but he confounded predictions that he would miss the entire season, returning in late June. Still fiery, he was in the middle of a riot at a game in Seattle, WA in late August, when police and firemen had to use hoses to disperse the crowd. In 1932, he was given his unconditional release, but in 1933 returned to stardom with the Hollywood Stars, the Angels' main rivals. He had another good year for the Stars in 1934, then was named player-manager of the Toledo Mud Hens for 1935. That was his last year as a player, but he was just getting started as a manager.
Haney was manager of the Mud Hens from 1935 to 1938, then the St. Louis Browns from 1939 to 1941. Haney returned to Toledo in 1941-1942. He broadcast Hollywood Stars and Los Angeles Angels home games on radio from 1943 through 1947 and Stars games only in 1948. Haney worked as his own engineer from a spectator box behind Wrigley Field's first base dugout and was known to invite a young fan to sit with him as he called the game. He then was skipper of the Stars from 1949 to 1952, and the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1953 to 1955. He accepted the position as a favor to his friend Branch Rickey, but it was a team full of youngsters, which he was instructed by Rickey to give playing time to, with predictable results. One of those youngsters was Roberto Clemente, who was a rookie with the Bucs in 1955. Haney helped to establish a good foundation in Pittsburgh, in spite of the team's poor finishes, and by the end of the decade, the Pirates were competitive once again. In 1956, he joined the Milwaukee Braves' coaching staff and replaced Charlie Grimm as manager in mid-season. He led the team to a World Series title in 1957 and a National League pennant in 1958. The Braves played the New York Yankees in the World Series both years, winning in seven games the first year, and losing in seven games in 1958. He remained at the helm of the club through 1959, losing a three-game playoff to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In his guide to baseball managers, author Bill James makes a detailed case for considering Haney's 1959 season at the helm of the Braves as the worst-ever performance by a Major League manager. As he puts it: "Without exaggeration, the 1959 Dodgers shouldn't have been within 20 games of the Braves". In reality, the two teams ended up playing a three-game playoff, which the Dodgers swept in two games. Among Haney's mistakes that season: riding his two top pitchers, Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette, into the ground while ignoring a number of talented youngsters who were available to pitch; platooning Joe Adcock with the awful Frank Torre long after Torre had demonstrated he was in a year-long slump; failing to settle on a solution when 2B Red Schoendienst was lost for the season; and loading his bench with a group of grumpy and over-the-hill veterans from which he failed to get any production.
He worked on broadcasts for NBC's "Game of the Week" in 1960, then after the season, was the first person hired by Gene Autry when he was assigned ownership of the expansion Los Angeles Angels in December of 1960. Haney was the original General Manager of the franchise, and did an excellent job in making the club competitive in its first few seasons (they had a winning record at home in their first year, and finished a remarkable third in the American League in 1962). He also put together a first-rate scouting and player development network. He served as the club's GM until 1968. He retired after the 1968 season, but stayed with the Angels as a consultant until his death in 1977.
|St. Louis Browns Manager
|Pittsburgh Pirates Manager
|Milwaukee Braves Manager
|Los Angeles/California Angels General Manager
Year-By-Year Managerial Record
- James Gordon: "Rounding Third and Heading for Home: Fred Haney, L.A.'s Mister Baseball", in Jean Hastings Ardell and Andy McCue, ed.: Endless Seasons: Baseball in Southern California, The National Pastime, SABR, Number 41, 2011, pp. 116-121.
- Jim Gordon: "Fred Haney", in Gregory H. Wolf, ed.: Thar's Joy in Braveland: The 1957 Milwaukee Braves, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2014, pp. 221-225. ISBN 978-1933599717
- Bill James: "Fred Haney", in The Bill James Guide to Baseball Managers, Scribner, New York, NY, 1997, pp. 202-205.