Now that the Gabe Kapler experiment is over, it’s time for the Philadelphia Phillies to give some serious thought to naming their first African-American manager.
When the Hollywood-born Kapler was named manager, the Phillies executive braintrust thought they were on the verge of creating something special. Kapler was big on analytics. He was known for texting his players and considered himself to be in touch. All that did after two seasons was give him a 161-163 overall record. This past season, in spite of big-ticket free agent signings and eye-popping trades, the Phillies struggled to an 81-81 finish.
Several names are being thrown around as potential managers. There’s former Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon and former Baltimore Orioles skipper Buck Showalter. Joe Girardi, who managed the New York Yankees to a World Series championship over the Phillies in 2009, has long been rumored as a possible candidate.
But the Phillies may not have to go that far to find a replacement, and here’s a twist — he’s African American. Just 63 miles north in Allentown, Gary Jones has just completed his second season as manager of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate. He’s 150-130 overall with the IronPigs and has done wonders in developing major league talent.
Jones is a five-time minor league Manager of the Year and a 2016 World Series champion as a coach with the Cubs. Jones replaced Dusty Wathan as the IronPigs manager. Wathan was promoted as the third base coach for the Phillies after leading Lehigh Valley to an 80-62 mark and into the 2017 International League playoffs in his only season in Allentown.
Jones, 58, brings 28 years of managerial and coaching experience from four organizations. Sixteen of those seasons have been spent as a minor league manager, during which time he’s posted an impressive 1,190-1,102 record with four league championships. A native of Henderson, Texas, Jones has also served as the Oakland A’s first-base coach (1988), the Boston Red Sox minor league field coordinator (2002) and the San Diego Padres minor league roving field coordinator (2007-13).
Here are a few other African Americans the Phillies would be wise to look at as managerial material:
A former player who was on deck when Hank Aaron blasted home run 715 to surpass Babe Ruth, Johnnie B. Baker Jr. is one of four African Americans to manage a World Series game. Cito Gaston, the only African American manager to win a World Series, was the first, with the Toronto Blue Jays. Baker was the second followed by Ron Washington and Dave Roberts. A three-time National League Manager of the Year, Baker knows the game and the players and is a proven commodity. He’s had some health issues but his old-school ways might be the key to the Phillies returning to postseason play.
A former All-Star Major League player, Lopes managed the Milwaukee Brewers from 2000 to 2002. Currently a coach with the Washington Nationals, Lopes should be very familiar to the Phillies. He served as a Phillies coach from 2007 to 2010. He’s been retired since 2017.
He was the 1992 American League Rookie of the Year with the Milwaukee Brewers and has managed the Tacoma Rainers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners in the Pacific Coast League. A former Triple-A player with the Phillies’ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons affiliate, Listach was the PCL Manager of the Year in 2008 when he was with the Iowa Cubs. He’s been a third base coach for the Nationals, a first base coach for the Astros, and a bench coach for both the Cubs and the Arizona Diamondbacks. On July 1, Listach was announced as the new manager of the Acereros de Monclova of the Mexican League.
A former All-Star third baseman, Pendleton went to the World Series five times but never won as a player. Pendleton got his first coaching job in 2001 as the Atlanta Braves hitting coach. Many thought he’d replace late Hall of Famer Frank Robinson as the manager of the Nationals in 2006. Pendleton withdrew from consideration for the job. Many thought he’d next become the manager of the Cardinals but that never materialized. When Bobby Cox retired as the Braves manager in 2010, Pendleton was a leading candidate, only to lose the gig to Fredi Gonzalez. Pendleton was a Braves bench coach under Brian Snitker before being replaced in 2017.
Another highly thought of talent, Hale spent five seasons as the bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays. In 1999, he guided the Trenton Thunder to a 92-50 finish. He was named Minor League Manager of the Year by three publications: Baseball America, The Sporting News and USA Today Baseball Weekly. He was also the Eastern League Manager of the Year. During his career he’s been a first base coach with the Texas Rangers, third base and bench coach with the Boston Red Sox and third base coach for the Orioles. He was rumored to be a finalist for the Blue Jays job in 2010.
The Hall of Fame shortstop, who once served as a special assistant to Washington Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden, has long been lauded for being a baseball analyst. He’s also been considered for managerial openings with the Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays.
A native of Newark, New Jersey, Marquis Donnell “Bo” Porter managed the Houston Astros for two seasons. He was 110-190 before being dismissed. A former third base/outfield and base-running coach for the Atlanta Braves, Porter is regarded as a good teacher. He played both baseball and football at the University of Iowa and in the past has been in the hunt for managerial jobs with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Florida Marlins.
A former player, Washington managed the Texas Rangers to back-to-back American League championships. He compiled a 664-611 record with the Rangers. He was forced to resign in 2014 after seven seasons when it was revealed he tested positive for cocaine and had an extramarital affair. Known as a player’s manager, Washington has worked hard to redeem himself. He’s currently the third base coach for the Braves. He’s also coached in the New York Mets and Oakland Athletic organizations.
A former New York Yankee star second baseman, Randolph finally got an opportunity to manage the New York Mets after being passed over for several managerial jobs with other teams. In 2007, with Randolph as manager, the Mets had one of the worst collapses in major league history. Holding a seven-game, first-place lead in the National League East with 17 games to play, the Mets finished 5–12 and lost the division to the Phillies. He was fired in June 2008 but is still highly regarded. He has been interviewed for the Brewers’ managerial position. He finished second to Ken Macha but did accept a job as a bench coach. Now a television analyst, Randolph would later be a bench coach for the Orioles.
Another former player, Manuel has managed the Chicago White Sox and the Mets. He’s been a highly regarded coach for the Montreal Expos, the Florida Marlins and the Mets. However, he’s made a tremendous contribution with his Jerry Manuel Foundation. Operating in Loomis, California, the foundation targets urban youngsters. The goal is educating them with charter school-like standards and then training them on baseball fundamentals. The JMF wants to improve the number of African-American players in Major League Baseball.
A former player who has managed the Pittsburgh Pirates and Seattle Mariners, McClendon longs for another opportunity to run a team. He didn’t have the best personnel in his stints with the Bucs and the Mariners but he did show some promise working with the players he had. In 1971, McClendon played in the Little League World Series, homering in five consecutive at-bats. Those were his only official at-bats as he was intentionally walked by the opposition. McClendon’s team was the first all-Black team to reach the Little League World Series.