Fred Haney

From BR Bullpen


Fred Girard Haney

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

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.

In 2003 he was elected to the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame.

Notable Achievements[edit]

Preceded by
Gabby Street
St. Louis Browns Manager
Succeeded by
Luke Sewell
Preceded by
Billy Meyer
Pittsburgh Pirates Manager
Succeeded by
Bobby Bragan
Preceded by
Charlie Grimm
Milwaukee Braves Manager
Succeeded by
Chuck Dressen
Preceded by
Los Angeles/California Angels General Manager
Succeeded by
Dick Walsh

Year-By-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
1935 Toledo Mud Hens American Association 64-86 7th none
1936 Toledo Mud Hens American Association 59-92 8th St. Louis Browns
1937 Toledo Mud Hens American Association 89-65 2nd St. Louis Browns Lost in 1st round
1938 Toledo Mud Hens American Association 79-74 5th St. Louis Browns
1939 St. Louis Browns American League 43-111 8th St. Louis Browns
1940 St. Louis Browns American League 67-87 6th St. Louis Browns
1941 St. Louis Browns American League 15-29 -- St. Louis Browns replaced by Luke Sewell on June 5
Toledo Mud Hens American Association 55-47 5th St. Louis Browns replaced Zack Taylor (27-25)
1942 Toledo Mud Hens American Association 78-73 4th St. Louis Browns Lost League Finals
1949 Hollywood Stars Pacific Coast League 109-78 1st Brooklyn Dodgers League Champs
1950 Hollywood Stars Pacific Coast League 104-96 3rd Brooklyn Dodgers none
1951 Hollywood Stars Pacific Coast League 93-74 2nd Pittsburgh Pirates Lost League Finals
1952 Hollywood Stars Pacific Coast League 109-71 1st Pittsburgh Pirates none League Champs
1953 Pittsburgh Pirates National League 50-104 8th Pittsburgh Pirates
1954 Pittsburgh Pirates National League 53-101 8th Pittsburgh Pirates
1955 Pittsburgh Pirates National League 60-94 8th Pittsburgh Pirates
1956 Milwaukee Braves National League 68-40 2nd Milwaukee Braves replaced Charlie Grimm (24-22) on June 17
1957 Milwaukee Braves National League 95-59 1st Milwaukee Braves Won World Series
1958 Milwaukee Braves National League 92-62 1st Milwaukee Braves Lost World Series
1959 Milwaukee Braves National League 86-70 2nd Milwaukee Braves

Further Reading[edit]

  • 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.

Related Sites[edit]