There haven’t been many ‘’celebrities’’ to wear the Red Sox uniform as manager of the team.
Bobby Valentine fits the bill. He is a longtime manager with a colorful personality, and is also a restaurant owner and TV personality.
Kevin Kennedy and Terry Francona went on to become media people after managing the Red Sox, but most Boston managers have been lifelong baseball men. Still, Joe Cronin, Ralph Houk, and Joe McCarthy could be considered ‘’celebrity managers,’’ too.
Cronin was a Hall of Fame shortstop, playing most of his career with the Red Sox. He was a player-manager for the Senators and Red Sox, and later became general manager of the Red Sox and president of the American League.
Cronin originally signed with Pittsburgh but was purchased by the Senators in 1928 for $7,500, a big-time bonus baby. In 1930, Cronin hit .346 with 13 homers and 126 RBIs to launch a tremendous career. He hit over .300 eight times and had eight 100-RBI seasons.
Cronin became a player-manager for the Senators in 1933 — leading them to the World Series — and continued that after he was traded to the Red Sox in 1935.
Cronin, who went 1,236-1,055 as a manager with two American League championships, retired as a player with the Red Sox in 1945, but managed the Sox until 1947. He took them to the World Series in 1946, losing to the Cardinals in seven games.
Houk had certainly gained fame by the time he became Red Sox manager in 1981. He had had a long association with the Yankees, managing perhaps the greatest team ever — the 1961 Yankees.
That 1961 team won 109 games — led by Roger Maris’s record-setting 61 homers, Mickey Mantle’s 54, and Whitey Ford’s 25 wins — and took the World Series in five games over the Cincinnati Reds.
Houk’s Yankees repeated as champions in 1962, and in 1963 they won 104 games and the American League pennant but were swept in the World Series.
Houk, who was on four World Series champions as a player, has been portrayed as a caring manager who helped Maris deal with the emotional weight of chasing Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1961.
In 1973, Houk had to deal with a more explosive issue as Yankees manager — the Mike Kekich-Fritz Peterson wife-swapping scandal, which is now being made into a movie by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.
I remember being in Houk’s office in Boston in 1984 when he spoke about it.
‘’I called them both into my office,’’ recalled Houk, who died last summer at age 90. ‘’And I said, ‘You’re doing what?’ It was the damnedest thing I ever heard. I said, ‘This better not have any bearing on how you perform on the field.’’’
Houk managed the Tigers from 1974-78 before Haywood Sullivan brought him to Boston after the Don Zimmer regime to help bring along a batch of young Red Sox players.
Under Houk’s tutelage, Oil Can Boyd, Bruce Hurst, Roger Clemens, Bob Ojeda, and John Tudor all got their feet wet in the major leagues. He was a father figure to all of them, well-respected because of where he had been and what he had done.
When the Sox hired Houk, there was a celebrity status to him in that he was a big name with a long, distinguished résumé. He was also a colorful character — ‘’The Major,’’ a tobacco-spitting, storytelling, battle-scarred skipper who had seen it all.
Sullivan had no illusions that Houk would lead the team to a championship; he just wanted the younger players to get better, and they did under Houk.
In four years, Houk went 312-282 as Red Sox manager, and two years after he left, they went to the World Series under John McNamara.
In a similar vein, the legendary McCarthy, who led the Yankees to seven world championships from 1931-46, managed the Red Sox from 1948-50.
Also a Hall of Famer, McCarthy won pennants in both leagues (Cubs, 1929) and owns the best regular-season (.615) and postseason (.698) winning percentages of all time. So when Ruth’s former manager came in to run the Red Sox, it was a big deal because of his extraordinary success in New York.
There are certainly others worthy of mention as ‘’celebrity managers.’’
Joe Morgan was a popular local figure for his colorful style and folksy way during his long tenure in Triple A Pawtucket. He, too, was a great storyteller, and brought ‘’Morgan Magic’’ to Fenway when he replaced McNamara in 1988.
Morgan was succeeded in 1992 by Butch Hobson, who was a popular player with the Red Sox in the 1970s. Hobson didn’t have a good run as manager — his teams were less talented and beset with injuries — but his hiring generated some attention.
Lou Boudreau should also be mentioned. The Hall of Famer was a player-manager for the Red Sox in the early 1950s, but his biggest claim to fame came prior to his Boston tenure.
With the Indians, Boudreau created the ‘’Boudreau Shift’’ as a defensive tactic against Red Sox great Ted Williams, moving the infielders to the right side of the diamond. Such shifts are now commonplace in baseball against pull-hitting lefthanded batters.
Tommy Lasorda’s coaching tree
Bobby Valentine has long credited former Dodgers mentor Tommy Lasorda for being an influential figure. He is just one of a handful of skippers who used Lasorda’s tutelage to help forge big league managerial careers that included either a World Series appearance or a Manager of the Year award.
Bobby Valentine: The former top prospect was a minor league MVP under Lasorda, together winning the Pacific Coast League title in 1970, though he never played under Lasorda in the majors. Valentine’s lone World Series appearance came in 2000 with the Mets, a five-game loss in the Subway Series.
Dusty Baker: Baker spent seven seasons playing under Lasorda, having some of his best offensive campaigns and playing in three World Series. A three-time Manager of the Year with the Giants, but didn’t win in 2002 when San Francisco lost the World Series in seven games to the Angels.
Mike Scioscia: The former All-Star catcher was Lasorda’s on-field manager for 13 years, Scioscia’s entire major league career. Scioscia won the World Series and top manager award in his third season on the Angels bench (2002) and was the AL’s best skipper again in 2009.
Johnny Oates: The late Oates had seven winning years in nine full seasons as a manager, garnering the AL’s top honors in 1996 after leading the Rangers to their first postseason series. He spent three seasons catching for Lasorda during the tail end of his playing career.
Charlie Manuel: Manuel was a little-used outfielder for the Dodgers in 1974-75, during which time Lasorda was the third base coach. The next season he went to Japan and turned into a power-hitting machine. He’s done nothing but win as a manager, including the World Series in 2008.
Ron Washington: Washington (as a player) and Lasorda (as a manager) made their big league debuts in the same season, 1977. The middle infielder’s stay in Los Angeles was much shorter, lasting just 10 games. But as a skipper, he’s just two World Series appearances behind Lasorda’s four.
Kirk Gibson: Gibson was the NL MVP in 1988 when the Dodgers gave Lasorda his final world title, and spent three injury-plagued years with Los Angeles. During that time, he surely picked up some pointers that helped him in Arizona last season while winning the managerial award.
-- Compiled by Sean Smith