Harry Craft

Harry Francis Craft (April 19, 1915 – August 3, 1995) was an American Major League Baseball player and manager. Born in Ellisville, Mississippi, he was a center fielder for the Cincinnati Reds from 1937 to 1942. Craft attended Mississippi College, threw and batted right-handed, stood 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 m) tall and weighed 185 pounds (84 kg).

From 1962 through September 18, 1964, Craft was the first manager in Houston's Major League history as skipper of the expansion Houston Colt .45s, later the Astros. Earlier, he managed the Kansas City Athletics (August 6, 1957, through 1959) and he was the "head coach" of the Chicago Cubs (April 26 through May 10 and June 2–4, 1961).

Harry Craft
Harry Craft 1940 Play Ball card.jpeg
Born: April 19, 1915
Ellisville, Mississippi
Died: August 3, 1995 (aged 80)
Conroe, Texas
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 19, 1937, for the Cincinnati Reds
Last MLB appearance
July 14, 1942, for the Cincinnati Reds
MLB statistics
Batting average.253
Home runs44
Runs batted in267
As player

As manager

As coach

Career highlights and awards

Playing career

A top-flight defensive outfielder, Craft was an average hitter in his short career. His best season came, basically, as a rookie (he had 42 at bats the previous season) in 1938. On June 15 of that year, Craft caught the ninth-inning pop fly (batted by Leo Durocher) to make the final out in the historic game that gave Johnny Vander Meer his second consecutive no-hitter. That same season, Craft batted a solid .270 as the Reds' everyday center fielder with 15 home runs and 83 RBIs in 151 games. He had 165 hits that season in 612 at bats. All those numbers ended up being career-highs. The next two years were Cincinnati's best seasons as they went to the World Series in both, winning in 1940 against the Detroit Tigers. However, Craft did not play a large part in the victory, having only 1 at bat. He ended up with just one postseason hit, which came the year before.

On June 8, 1940, he hit for the cycle in a 23–2 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers. Craft joined the Navy in 1942. By the time he returned to baseball his skills had deteriorated and he never made it back to the major leagues as a player.

In six seasons, Craft had an all-time .253 batting average with 533 hits, 85 doubles, 25 triples, 44 home runs and 267 RBIs. He accumulated 14 stolen bases and 237 runs scored. His lifetime fielding percentage was .986.

Managerial career

Minor leagues

Harry Craft Reds
Craft in 1940

Craft began his managing career in the farm system of the New York Yankees in 1949. That season, he was Mickey Mantle's first manager in professional baseball with Independence of the Kansas–Oklahoma–Missouri League. In 1950, Craft managed Mantle again with the Joplin Miners in the Western Association.[1] Eventually, Craft progressed to the Triple-A level with the Kansas City Blues of the American Association in 1953–1954.

"I was lucky to have Harry as skipper my first two years", Mantle said years later. "He started me out right." [1] Craft would also manage Roger Maris at the Major League level in 1958–1959 with the Kansas City Athletics, just before the young right fielder was traded to the Yankees. Maris credited Craft with helping him with his hitting.

Major League

Kansas City Athletics

Craft went from the minor league Blues to the Major League Athletics in 1955, their first year in Kansas City after transferring from Philadelphia, when he was named a coach on the staff of Lou Boudreau. After over 2½ losing seasons, Boudreau was released on August 6, 1957, and Craft was named his successor. Craft's Athletics went 23–27 to finish the 1957 season. He then lasted two more full campaigns, 1958 and 1959, before his firing. Craft finished with a 162–196 record at Kansas City. His best finish was seventh place in the eight-team American League.

Chicago Cubs

A year after joining the coaching staff of the 1960 Chicago Cubs, Craft became a member of Cubs' owner Phil Wrigley's ill-fated College of Coaches. From 1961 to 1965, the team had no permanent manager, and rotated the "head coach" job among its coaching staff. Craft led the Bruins for 16 games in 1961, coming out 7–9 as one of four head coaches that year.

During 1961, Craft briefly returned to managing in the minors for the Triple-A Houston Buffs of the American Association in 1961. He would be the last manager for the minor-league Buffs, before being promoted to become the first skipper of Houston's Major League expansion team when the Houston Colt .45s entered the National League in 1962.[2]

Houston Colt .45s

Craft managed the Colt .45s from 1962 to 1964, before his replacement by Lum Harris in the closing days of the 1964 season.[3] His first team, the 1962 Colt .45s, finished eighth in the ten-team league, but six full games ahead of the ninth-place Cubs, then in their 87th year in the NL. But in 1963 and 1964, the Colt .45s fell into ninth place, ahead of only their expansion brethren, the New York Mets.

Craft ended 191–280 with the Colt .45s, never having managed an above .500 team in all or parts of seven seasons as a big league manager. He remained in the game, however, as a scout and farm system official for the Baltimore Orioles, San Francisco Giants and the Yankees, retiring in 1991.

Craft ended his managing career with a 360–485 record in 849 games, a .426 winning percentage. His best finish was seventh place. The authors of one baseball book had this to say about Craft's career, perhaps unfairly given what little he had to work with on those clubs: "Of course, if you are really lousy at what you do, there's always a chance you can work your way into management, that being the American Way... Harry Craft managed three teams in a seven year span... They finished 7th, 7th, 7th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 9th. Do I detect a trend in there somewhere?"[4]


Harry Craft died after a long illness in Conroe, Texas, at the age of 80 on Thursday, August 3, 1995.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Roger Maris: Baseball's Reluctant Hero, p. 103, Tom Clavin and Danny Peary, Touchstone Books, Published by Simon & Schuster, New York, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4165-8928-0
  2. ^ Harry Craft named Manager of Houston Colts
  3. ^ Harry Craft fired as Colt Manager
  4. ^ Boyd, Brendan C.; Harris, Fred C. (1973). The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book. Little, Brown and Company. p. 52. ISBN 0316104299.
  5. ^ Former Manager Harry Craft dies

Further reading

External links

Preceded by
Arky Vaughan
Hitting for the cycle
June 8, 1940
Succeeded by
Harry Danning
1939 Cincinnati Reds season

The 1939 Cincinnati Reds season was a season in American baseball. The team finished first in the National League, winning the pennant by 4½ games over the St. Louis Cardinals with a record of 97–57. The team went on to the 1939 World Series, which it lost in four straight games to the New York Yankees.

1940 Cincinnati Reds season

The 1940 Cincinnati Reds season was a season in American baseball that represented the Cincinnati Reds. Cincinnati entered the season as the reigning National League champions, having been swept by the New York Yankees in the World Series. Cincinnati won 100 games for the first time in franchise history. The team went 100-53 during the season, best in MLB. The team finished first in the National League with a record of 100–53, winning the pennant by 12 games over the Brooklyn Dodgers. They went on to face the Detroit Tigers in the 1940 World Series, beating them in seven games. This was their first championship since 1919.

1942 Cincinnati Reds season

The 1942 Cincinnati Reds season was a season in American baseball. The team finished fourth in the National League with a record of 76–76, 29 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

1957 Kansas City Athletics season

The 1957 Kansas City Athletics season, the third for the team in Kansas City and the 57th in MLB, involved the A's finishing seventh in the American League with a record of 59 wins and 94 losses, 38½ games behind the American League Champion New York Yankees. The club drew 901,067 spectators, sixth in the league.

1958 Kansas City Athletics season

The 1958 Kansas City Athletics season was the team's fourth in Kansas City and the 58th in the American League. The season involved the A's finishing 7th in the American League with a record of 73 wins and 81 losses, 19 games behind the World Champion New York Yankees.

1959 Kansas City Athletics season

The 1959 Kansas City Athletics season was the fifth for the franchise in Kansas City, and its 59th overall. It involved the A's finishing 7th in the American League with a record of 66 wins and 88 losses, 28 games behind the AL Champion Chicago White Sox.

1961 Chicago Cubs season

The 1961 Chicago Cubs season was the 90th season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 86th in the National League and the 46th at Wrigley Field. In the first season under their College of Coaches, the Cubs finished seventh in the National League with a record of 64–90, 29 games behind the Cincinnati Reds.

1962 Houston Colt .45s season

The 1962 Houston Colt .45s were an expansion team in American Major League Baseball's National League, and 1962 was the first season in franchise history. Harry Craft was Houston's first manager. The .45s finished eighth among the National League's ten teams with a record of 64–96, 36½ games behind the league champion San Francisco Giants.

1962 Major League Baseball season

The 1962 Major League Baseball season was contested from April 9 to October 16, 1962. The National League played a 162-game schedule for the first time, having added the Houston Colt .45s and the New York Mets as expansion teams. The American League had played its first 162-game schedule a year earlier.

The NL returned to New York City after a four-year absence, though the Mets would finish in last place.

The National League went to a tie-breaker series to decide the Pennant winner won by the San Francisco Giants over the Los Angeles Dodgers 2 games to 1.

In the World Series the New York Yankees defeated the San Francisco Giants 4 games to 3.

1963 Houston Colt .45s season

The Houston Colt .45s' 1963 season was a season in American baseball. The team finished ninth in the National League with a record of 66–96, 33 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.

1964 Houston Colt .45s season

The 1964 Houston Colt .45s season was the team's third season in Major League Baseball. It involved the Houston Colt .45s finishing in ninth place in the National League with a record of 66–96, 27 games behind the eventual World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. It was their final season for the team at Colt Stadium before relocating their games to the Astrodome in 1965, along with the accompanying name change to the "Astros" for the '65 season.

Beaumont Exporters

The Beaumont Exporters was the predominant name of a minor league baseball team located in Beaumont, Texas that played between 1920 and 1957 in the Texas League and the Big State League.

College of Coaches

The College of Coaches was an unorthodox baseball organizational practice employed by the National League's Chicago Cubs in 1961 and 1962. After the Cubs finished 60–94 in 1960, their 14th straight NL second-division finish, Cubs owner P. K. Wrigley announced in December 1960 that the Cubs would no longer have a sole field manager, but would be led by an eight-man committee. The experiment, widely ridiculed in baseball circles, was effectively ended in 1962 before being completely abandoned in 1965.

Houston Buffaloes

The Houston Buffaloes, Houston Buffalos, or Buffs were an American minor league baseball team, and were the first minor league team to be affiliated with a Major League franchise, which was the St. Louis Cardinals. The club was founded in 1888, and played in the Texas League at various levels throughout the majority of its existence. Most recently, from 1959 through 1961, the team played in the American Association at the Triple-A level of high minor league baseball as an affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. The Buffaloes derived their nickname from Buffalo Bayou, the principal waterway through Houston to the Houston Ship Channel, outlet to the Gulf of Mexico. The team's last home was Buffalo Stadium, built in 1928. Before that, they played at West End Park from 1905–1928, and at Herald Park prior to that.

The Houston Buffaloes were purchased by the Houston Sports Association in 1961 to obtain the Houston metropolitan-area territorial rights for the new expansion team in Major League baseball and the National League, Houston Colt .45s (known since 1965 as the Houston Astros named after their futuristic enclosed indoor domed stadium, the Astrodome - the first of its kind in America). Several of those associated with the Buffaloes continued with the Colt .45s major league team including manager Harry Craft. The Buffaloes organization then ended their relationship with the Cubs, and became a Triple-A affiliate of the Colt. 45s. For the following 1962 season, they were reorganized and later moved north to become the Oklahoma City 89ers, which are known today as the Oklahoma City Dodgers. The 1931 and 1941 Buffaloes teams were recognized as being among the 100 greatest minor league teams of all time.

Joe Hoerner

Joseph Walter Hoerner (November 12, 1936 – October 4, 1996) was an American professional baseball relief pitcher, who played fourteen years in Major League Baseball (MLB), for 7 different teams.

A native of Dubuque, Iowa he grew up in nearby Key West.The left-handed hurler was signed by the Chicago White Sox as an amateur free agent before the 1957 season. At the MLB level, Hoerner played for the Houston Colt .45s (1963–1964), St. Louis Cardinals (1966–1969), Philadelphia Phillies (1970–72, 1975), Atlanta Braves (1972–1973), Kansas City Royals (1973–1974), Texas Rangers (1976), and Cincinnati Reds (1977).

Hoerner was used exclusively in relief during his 14-year big league career. He appeared in 493 games, and during his first six full seasons (1966–1971) had one of the lowest combined ERAs among all major league relief pitchers (2.16).

Hoerner was drafted by the Colt .45's from the White Sox in the 1961 minor league draft. He made his major league debut on September 27, 1963, against the New York Mets at Colt Stadium. In this particular game, Houston manager Harry Craft used a starting lineup of nine rookies, including Jerry Grote (20), Joe Morgan (20), Rusty Staub (19), and Jimmy Wynn (21). Hoerner pitched three scoreless innings as the Mets won, 10–3.Hoerner was drafted by the Cardinals from the Houston Astros in the 1965 rule V draft, and this led to him being part of two pennant-winning teams, including the 1967 World Series champions. In game 3 of the 1968 World Series he became the first player in MLB history to get a hit in a World Series without having collected a hit in the regular season. In four seasons with St. Louis (1966–1969) Hoerner pitched in 206 games with a 19–10 record and 60 saves. He ranked in the National League top ten all four seasons for saves, and three times for games finished. On July 22, 1966 at Wrigley Field he hit his only major league home run, a 3-run shot, against Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins. During this time he also tied a National League record for relievers with 6 consecutive strikeouts vs. the Mets on June 1, 1968 He also appeared in five World Series games for the Cards, with a 0–1 record and one save.

Hoerner was traded to Philadelphia as part of the Curt Flood deal on October 7, 1969. He made the National League All-Star team in 1970, and his .643 winning percentage ranked sixth in the league. During 1971 that year he gave up Willie Mays' major league-leading 22nd and last career extra-inning home run at Candlestick Park. In 1971, at age 34, he finished the year with a 1.97 ERA, and his effectiveness declined after that season. However, he later gave up Willie McCovey's N.L. record-breaking 17th grand slam in 1977 at Riverfront Stadium. His final major league appearance was on August 5, 1977. At the age of 40, he was the second-oldest player to appear in a National League game that season.

For his career he finished with a lifetime record of 39–34, 99 saves, 268 games finished, and an earned run average of 2.99. He struck out 412 and walked 181 In 562.2 innings pitched. Hoerner held All-Stars Bobby Bonds, Johnny Callison, Tommy Harper, Ed Kranepool, Joe Pepitone, and Bill White to a .070 collective batting average (5-for-71). He also held Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Reggie Jackson, Willie Mays, Bill Mazeroski, Tony Pérez, Willie Stargell, and Carl Yastrzemski to a .101 collective batting average (9-for-89).

Hoerner died in a farming accident at the age of 59 in Hermann, Missouri.

List of Chicago Cubs managers

The Chicago Cubs are a Major League Baseball team that plays in the National League (NL) Central Division. Since their inception as the White Stockings in 1876, the Cubs have employed 60 managers. The duties of the team manager include team strategy and leadership on and off the field. The Cubs have had 13 general managers. The general manager controls player transactions, hiring and firing of the coaching staff, and negotiates with players and agents regarding contracts. The first person to officially hold the title of general manager for the Cubs was Charles Weber, who assumed the title in 1934. The franchise's first manager was Baseball Hall of Famer Albert Spalding, who helped the White Stockings become the first champions of the newly formed National League.After co-managing with Silver Flint during the 1879 Chicago White Stockings season, Hall of Famer Cap Anson began an 18-year managerial tenure in 1880, the longest in franchise history. Under Anson, the team won five more NL pennants — in 1880, 1881, 1882, 1885 and 1886—tying the 1885 World Series and losing the 1886 World Series in the process. Anson won 1,283 games as the White Stockings' manager, the most in franchise history. After taking over for Hall of Fame manager Frank Selee in 1905, Frank Chance — another Hall of Famer — managed the team through the 1912 season. During his tenure, the franchise won four more NL pennants in 1906, 1907, 1908, and 1910, winning its only two World Series titles in 1907 and 1908 until 2016 Chance's .664 career winning percentage is the highest of any Cubs manager. After Chance, from 1913 through 1960, the Cubs employed nineteen managers, nine of which were inducted into the Hall of Fame. During this period, the Cubs won six more NL pennants, including three under manager Charlie Grimm. Split between Grimm's two managerial stints in the 1930s and 1940s, plus a brief appearance as manager in 1960, Grimm accumulated 946 career wins, second-most in franchise history behind Anson.Owner P. K. Wrigley then began experimenting with the managerial position and in December 1960, announced that Cubs would not have only one manager for the coming season. Instead, the team implemented a new managerial system known as the "College of Coaches". The system was meant to blend ideas from several individuals instead of relying on one manager. During its first year, the team rotated four different managers into the role: Vedie Himsl, Harry Craft, El Tappe and Lou Klein. The next year, under the guidance of Tappe, Klein and Charlie Metro, the Cubs lost a franchise-record 103 games. Bob Kennedy managed the team for the next three seasons until Hall of Famer Leo Durocher assumed the managerial role for the 1966 season, effectively ending the five-year-long "College of Coaches" experiment. During his first season as manager, Durocher's Cubs tied the franchise's 103-game loss record set four years earlier by the "College"; however, he maintained a winning record for the rest of his seven-year tenure.In the last 37 seasons since Durocher, the Cubs have had 22 managers. Jim Frey and Don Zimmer led the team to the National League Championship Series (NLCS) in 1984 and 1989, respectively. In both of those seasons, the team's manager won a Manager of the Year Award. Jim Riggleman managed the team for five years from 1995 through 1999, earning the team's first and only wild card playoff spot in 1998. Dusty Baker's Cubs lost in the 2003 NLCS during the first year of a four-year managing tenure. Baker's successor, Lou Piniella, led the team to two consecutive National League Central Division titles during his first two years with the team and was awarded the 2008 Manager of the Year Award. On July 20, 2010, Piniella announced his intention to retire as manager of the Cubs following the end of the season. However, on August 22, 2010, Piniella announced he would resign after that day's game with the Atlanta Braves, citing family reasons. Third base coach Mike Quade would finish the rest of the season as manager. The Cubs' current general manager is Jed Hoyer, who replaced Jim Hendry.On November 7, 2013, the Cubs hired Rick Renteria as their new manager. He replaced Dale Sveum. He was fired on October 31, 2014 as the team prepared to hire Joe Maddon.

List of Houston Astros managers

The Houston Astros are a professional baseball franchise based in Houston, Texas. They are a member of the American League (AL) West in Major League Baseball (MLB). The team joined MLB in 1962 as an expansion team named the Houston Colt .45s and changed their name to the Houston Astros in 1965. The team won their first NL Championship in 2005. Having first played in Colt Stadium (1962–1964), and later in The Astrodome, now known as the Reliant Astrodome (1965–1999), the Astros have played their home games at Minute Maid Park, which was first named The Ballpark at Union Station, since 2000. The franchise is owned by Jim Crane, and Jeff Luhnow is their general manager.There have been 23 managers for the Astros franchise. The team's first manager was Harry Craft, who managed for three seasons. Bill Virdon is the franchise's all-time leader for the most regular-season games managed (1066), and the most regular-season game wins (544); Phil Garner holds the record for most playoff games managed with the Astros with 26 while A. J. Hinch holds the record for most all-time playoff wins (14). Salty Parker is the Astros' all-time leader for the highest regular-season winning percentage, as he has only managed one game, which he won. Of the managers who have managed a minimum of 162 games (one season), Larry Dierker has the highest regular-season winning percentage with .556. Garner is the franchise's all-time leader for the highest playoff winning percentage with .500. Leo Durocher is the only Astros manager to have been elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Garner and Hinch are the only managers to have won an league pennant with the Astros, winning one in the National League in 2005 and one in the American League in 2017. Larry Dierker is the only Astros manager to have had his uniform number retired by the Astros, with his uniform number 49 retired by the Astros in 2002. Dierker is also the sixth manager in MLB history to win a division championship in his first season for the Astros in 1997. Lanier and Dierker are the only managers to have won a Manager of the Year Award with the Astros, winning it in 1986 and 1998 respectively. Grady Hatton, Lanier, Dierker, and Cooper have spent their entire managing careers with the Astros.

List of Oakland Athletics managers

The Oakland Athletics are a professional baseball team based in Oakland, California. Before moving to Oakland in 1968, the team played in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from 1901 through 1954 and in Kansas City, Missouri from 1955 through 1967. The Athletics are members of the American League (AL) West division in Major League Baseball (MLB). In baseball, the head coach of a team is called the manager, or more formally, the field manager. The duties of the team manager include team strategy and leadership on and off the field. The team has employed 30 different managers in its history. The current Athletics' manager is Bob Melvin.The franchise's first manager was Hall of Famer Connie Mack, who managed the team for its first fifty seasons. Mack led the Athletics to nine AL championships and five World Series championships—in 1910, 1911, 1913, 1929 and 1930. The team lost the World Series in 1905, 1914 and 1931, and no World Series was played when the Athletics won the AL championship in 1902. After Jimmy Dykes replaced Mack as the Athletics' manager in 1951, no manager served more than three consecutive seasons until Tony La Russa, who became the Athletics' manager in 1986. During this period, Dick Williams managed the Athletics to two consecutive World Series championships in 1972 and 1973, and Alvin Dark managed the team to a third consecutive World Series championship in 1974. La Russa managed the Athletics to three consecutive AL championships from 1988 through 1990, winning the World Series in 1989.Connie Mack holds the Athletics' records for most games managed, 7,466; most wins as a manager, 3,582; and most losses as a manager, 3,814. Williams has the highest winning percentage of any Athletics manager, .603. Four managers have served multiple terms as the Athletics' manager. Connie Mack's son Earle Mack served as interim manager twice, in 1937 and 1939, when his father was ill. Hank Bauer served as the Athletics' manager from 1961 to 1962, and then again in 1969. Dark served as the Athletics' manager from 1966 to 1967 and again from 1974 to 1975. Jack McKeon started the 1977 season as the Athletics' manager, was replaced by Bobby Winkles after 53 games, and then replaced Winkles part way through the 1978 season. Five Athletics' managers have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame: Connie Mack, Lou Boudreau, Joe Gordon, Luke Appling and Williams. Mack and Williams were inducted into the Hall of Fame as managers. Boudreau, Gordon and Appling were inducted as players.

Lum Harris

Chalmer Luman Harris (January 17, 1915 – November 11, 1996) was an American right-handed pitcher, coach, manager, and scout in Major League Baseball.

Born in the village of New Castle, Alabama, Harris began his playing career with the Atlanta Crackers of the Southern Association in 1937. His catcher that season was Paul Richards, who in 1938 became Atlanta's player-manager. Richards and Harris would form a decades-long association in baseball at the minor and Major League levels.

The 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m), 185 lb (84 kg) Harris compiled a 35–63 record with a 4.16 earned-run average in 151 American League games with the Philadelphia Athletics and (briefly) Washington Senators in 1941–44 and 1946–47. He missed the 1945 season while serving in the United States Navy in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. As a big leaguer, Harris allowed 874 hits and 265 bases on balls in 820 innings pitched and 151 games, with 232 strikeouts. He pitched at the Triple-A level during his last three active seasons in pro ball.

The remainder of Harris' Major League career would be spent working in tandem with Richards, initially as a coach with the Chicago White Sox (1951–54), Baltimore Orioles (1955–61), and Houston Colt .45s (1962–64). In each case he worked under Richards, who was either his manager, general manager, or (in Baltimore from 1955 to 1958) both. Despite his playing background, Harris was never a pitching coach; he usually served as a third-base coach.

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