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Encyclopedia > Ralph Houk

Ralph George Houk (born August 9, 1919 in Lawrence, Kansas), nicknamed "The Major," is a former catcher, coach, manager, and front office executive in Major League Baseball. He is best known as the successor of Casey Stengel as the manager of the New York Yankees from 1961-63, when he won three consecutive American League pennants and the 1961-62 World Series championships. is the 221st day of the year (222nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1919 (MCMXIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar). ... Lawrence is a river city in Douglas County, Kansas, United States, 41 miles (66 km) west of Kansas City, along the banks of both the Kansas (Kaw) and Wakarusa Rivers. ... The position of the catcher Catcher is also a general term for a fielder who catches the ball in cricket. ... In the baseball game, the coach is a member of the team at bat stationed near first or third base to signal and direct the runners and batters. ... New York Yankees manager Joe Torre returning to the dugout (September 2005). ... MLB and Major Leagues redirect here. ... Charles Dillon Casey Stengel (July 30, 1890 - September 29, 1975), nicknamed The Old Professor, was an American baseball player and manager from the early 1910s into the 1960s. ... Major league affiliations American League (1901–present) East Division (1969–present) Current uniform Retired Numbers 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 23, 32, 37, 44, 49 Name New York Yankees (1913–present) New York Highlanders (1903-1912) Baltimore Orioles (1901-1902) (Also referred to as... American League The American League (or formally the American League of Professional Baseball Clubs) is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball in the United States of America and Canada. ... For other events named World Series, see World Series (disambiguation). ...

Contents

Playing career

Houk was a catcher working his way through the Yankees' farm system when the U.S. entered World War II. He enlisted in the armed forces, became an Army Ranger, and received a battlefield commission, rising from private to major. He was a combat veteran of Bastogne and the Battle of the Bulge, and was awarded the Silver Star, Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Returning to baseball after the war, Houk eventually reached the major leagues, serving as the Yankees' second- and third-string catcher behind Yogi Berra. A right-handed hitter, Houk appeared in only 91 games over eight seasons (1947-54), finishing with a batting average of .272. Although the Yankees participated in seven World Series during that period, Houk had only two Series at-bats (one in 1947, the other in 1952), batting .500. The farm system is a slang term used in baseball to refer to the systematic control or ownership of minor league baseball clubs by major league teams, who move players from the lowest to the highest classification as they gain experience and enjoy success at each level. ... Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000... Official force name 75th Ranger Regiment Rangers Other names Airborne Rangers Army Rangers Task Force Ranger U.S. Army Rangers Branch U.S. Army Chain of Command USASOC Description Special Operations Force, rapidly deployable light infantry force. ... The coat of arms of the Bastogne municipality. ... Combatants United States  United Kingdom Germany Commanders Dwight D. Eisenhower Omar N. Bradley George S. Patton, Jr. ... The Silver Star is the fourth highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of any branch of the United States Armed Forces. ... For other meanings see Purple Heart (disambiguation). ... The Bronze Star Medal is a United States Armed Forces individual military decoration and is the fourth highest award for bravery, heroism or meritorious service. ... Lawrence Peter Yogi Berra (born May 12, 1925 in St. ... Batting average is a statistic in both cricket and baseball measuring the performance of cricket batsmen and baseball hitters, respectively. ... The 1947 World Series matched the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers, with the Yankees winning the Series in 7 games for their first title since 1943, and the 11th championship in team history. ... The 1952 World Series featured the three-time defending champion New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers, with the Yankees winning in 7 games for their fourth straight title – tying the mark they set between 1936 and 1939 – and the 15th in their history, and their third defeat...


Houk's last years as an active player were actually spent as the Yankees' full-time bullpen coach, thus beginning his managerial apprenticeship. In 1955, he was named manager of the Yanks' AAA affiliate, the Denver Bears of the American Association. Following three highly successful seasons at Denver, Houk returned to the Bronx as Stengel's first-base coach from 1958-60. From late May through early June 1960, Houk served as acting manager of the Yanks for 13 games while Stengel, 70, was sidelined by illness. (The team won 7 and lost 6.) Then, after the Yanks lost the 1960 World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates — and with Houk one of the hottest managerial candidates in baseball — the Yankees "discharged" Stengel (to use Stengel's own words) and promoted Houk. The Denver Bears were the AAA minor league baseball franchise in the Pacific Coast League in Denver, Colorado from 1948 until the team name was changed to the Denver Zephyrs. ... The American Association was a minor baseball league at the Class AAA (Triple-A) level of baseball in the United States from 1902 to 1962 and 1969 to 1997. ... The following are the baseball events of the year 1960 throughout the world. ... Bill Mazeroskis famous game-winning home run at Forbes Field to win the 1960 World Series The 1960 World Series was played between the Pittsburgh Pirates (NL) and New York Yankees (AL). ... Major league affiliations National League (1887–present) Central Division (1994–present) Current uniform Retired Numbers 1, 4, 8, 9, 20, 21, 33, 40, 42 Name Pittsburgh Pirates (1891–present) Pittsburgh Innocents (1890) Pittsburg Alleghenies (1882–1889) (Also referred to as Infants in 1890) Ballpark PNC Park (2001–present) Three Rivers...


A player's manager

Houk was known as a "player's manager" — albeit one with a fearsome temper. Tommy Lasorda, a Baseball Hall of Fame manager, briefly played for Houk at Denver (one of Lasorda's rare stints outside the Dodger organization) and called Houk the best handler of men he ever played for, and modeled his managerial style on him. On the other hand, the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, of which Houk is a member, describes Houk as "rough, blunt and decisive" and his famous cap-throwing and -kicking tantrums in arguments with umpires earned him 45 ejections as a skipper in the majors. In 2007, Houk was tied with another former Yankee skipper, Billy Martin, for fourteenth place on baseball's "most ejected" list. [1] Tommy Lasorda, 2006 photo by Phil Konstantin Thomas Charles Lasorda (born September 22, 1927 in Norristown, Pennsylvania) is a former Major League baseball pitcher and manager. ... The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, located at 62 Main Street in Cooperstown, New York, is a semi-official museum operated by private interests serving as the central point for the study of the history of baseball in the United States and beyond, the display of baseball-related... Major league affiliations National League (1890–present) West Division (1969–present) Current uniform Retired Numbers 1, 2, 4, 19, 20, 24, 32, 39, 42, 53 Name Los Angeles Dodgers (1958–present) Brooklyn Dodgers (1932-1957) Brooklyn Robins (1914-1931) Brooklyn Dodgers (1911-1912) Brooklyn Superbas (1899-1910), (1913) Brooklyn Grooms... Walter Johnson The Kansas Sports Hall of Fame is a museum located in Wichita, Kansas that honors greatness in athletics in the state of Kansas. ... Home plate umpire Gary Darling signals that the last pitch was a strike In baseball, the umpire is the person charged with officiating the game, including beginning and ending the game, enforcing the rules of the game and the grounds, making judgment calls on plays, and meting out discipline. ... The following are the baseball events of the year 2007 throughout the world. ... Alfred Manuel Billy Martin (May 16, 1928 – December 25, 1989) was an American second baseman and manager in Major League Baseball who was best known as the manager of the New York Yankees five different times. ...


He was a breath of fresh air after the distant and sarcastic Stengel, and the early 1960s Yankees responded to his leadership. His 1961 team led by Roger Maris (61 home runs), Mickey Mantle (54 homers) and Whitey Ford (25 victories) won 109 games and thrashed the Cincinnati Reds in five games in the World Series. His 1962 club won 96 games and the pennant and outlasted the San Francisco Giants in a thrilling Fall Classic. In 1963, the Yanks won 104 games and rolled to the pennant, but were ignominiously swept in four games by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Series. The following are the baseball events of the year 1961 throughout the world. ... Roger Eugene Maris (September 10, 1934 – December 14, 1985) was an American right fielder in Major League Baseball who is primarily remembered for breaking Babe Ruths 34-year-old single-season home run record in 1961 on the last day of the season. ... Mark McGwire swinging for the fences. ... Mickey Charles Mantle (October 20, 1931 – August 13, 1995) was an American baseball player who was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974. ... Edward Charles Whitey Ford (born October 21, 1928) is a former Major League Baseball pitcher. ... Major league affiliations National League (1890–present) Central Division (1994–present) Current uniform Retired Numbers 1, 5, 8, 10, 13, 18, 20, 24, 42 Name Cincinnati Reds (1958–present) Cincinnati Redlegs (1953-1958) Cincinnati Reds (1882-1953) Cincinnati Red Stockings (1876-1882) Other nicknames The Redlegs, The Big Red Machine... The 1961 World Series of baseball matched the New York Yankees (109-53) against the Cincinnati Reds (93-61), with the Yankees winning in 5 games to earn their 19th championship in the last 39 seasons. ... The following are the events of the year 1962 that happened world-wide throughout the sport of baseball. ... Major league affiliations National League (1883–present) West Division (1969–present) Current uniform Retired Numbers NY, NY, 3, 4, 11, 24, 27, 30, 36, 42, 44 Name San Francisco Giants (1958–present) New York Giants (1885–1957) New York Gothams (1883–1885) Other nicknames Jints, Gigantes, G-Men Ballpark AT... The 1962 World Series matched the defending champion New York Yankees against the San Francisco Giants, who had won their first NL pennant since moving from New York in 1958, defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-game playoff. ... The following are the events of the year 1963 that happened world-wide throughout the sport of baseball. ... The 1963 World Series matched the two-time defending champion New York Yankees against the Los Angeles Dodgers, with the Dodgers sweeping the Series in four games to capture their second title in five years. ...


In the Yankees front office

That winter, Houk moved into the Yankees' front office as general manager, replacing Roy Hamey, and Berra, at the end of his brilliant playing career, became the Yanks' new skipper. Yogi would win the 1964 pennant, but Houk and the Yankee ownership quickly became disenchanted with Berra's work and in mid-season they made up their mind to fire him. After Berra's seven-game loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1964 World Series, Houk sacked the Yankee legend and ironically hired the Cardinal manager, Johnny Keane, as his successor. But the great postwar Yankee dynasty was aged and crumbling, the farm system had seriously deteriorated, the Kansas City Athletics were no longer a reliable source for major league talent, and the inception of the player draft cut into Yankee recruiting. Keane, a longtime minor league skipper, was better suited by temperament for managing young players than established and aging superstars, and his hiring was a failure. The team fell to sixth in 1965 and had won only four of the first 20 games of 1966 when Keane was fired by Houk, who named himself manager. In Major League Baseball, the General Manager of a team typically controls player transactions and bears the primary responsibility on behalf of the ballclub during contract discussions with players. ... H. Roy Hamey (1902-1983) was an American front-office executive in Major League Baseball. ... The following are the baseball events of the year 1964 throughout the world. ... Major league affiliations National League (1892–present) Central Division (1994–present) Current uniform Retired Numbers 1, 2, 6, 9, 14, 17, 20, 42, 42, 45, 85 Name St. ... The 1964 World Series, the 56th playing for the championship of Major League Baseball, pitted the National League champion St. ... John Joseph Keane (November 3, 1911 - January 6, 1967) was an American baseball player and manager. ... Major league affiliations American League (1901–present) West Division (1969–present) Current uniform Retired Numbers 9, 27, 34, 42, 43, (As) Name Oakland Athletics (1968–present) Kansas City Athletics (1955-1967) Philadelphia Athletics (1901-1954) (Referred to as As) Other nicknames The As, The White Elephants, The... The following are the baseball events of the year 1965 throughout the world. ... This article is currently under construction // This year in baseball Events January 20 - The Baseball Writers Association of America voters elect Ted Williams to the Hall of Fame. ...


Back to the bench

Houk came down from the front office (he was eventually succeeded as general manager by Lee MacPhail) to begin a second, and far less successful, term as Yankee skipper, finishing the 1966 season. Their talent depleted, the Yankees finished dead last—the first time they had done so since 1912. At season's end, the Yankees would start a long rebuilding process, which included Bobby Richardson's retirement (longtime roommate Tony Kubek had retired with a bad back after the 1965 season) and the trading of both Maris and Clete Boyer. Leland Stanford MacPhail, Jr. ... The following are the baseball events of the year 1912 throughout the world. ... Robert Clinton Richardson (born August 19, 1935 in Sumter, South Carolina) is a former second baseman in Major League Baseball who played for the New York Yankees from 1955 through 1966. ... Tony Kubek (left) interviews Joe Morgan following the Cincinnati Reds Game 4 victory in the 1976 World Series. ... Cletis Leroy “Clete” Boyer (born February 9, 1937 in Cassville, Missouri) is a former Major League Baseball player. ...


Houk would continue to manage the Yankees from 1967-73. His best season was 1970, when the Yanks won 93 games, but finished 15 games behind the eventual world champion Baltimore Orioles. He worked for George Steinbrenner for one season, in 1973, and was the Bombers' manager during their final game in 1973 at the "original" Yankee Stadium prior to its closure for two seasons for needed renovations. The following are the baseball events of the year 1970 throughout the world. ... Major league affiliations American League (1901–present) East Division (1969–present) Current uniform Retired Numbers 4, 5, 8, 20, 22, 33, 42 Name Baltimore Orioles (1954–present) St. ... George Michael Steinbrenner III (born July 4, 1930 in Rocky River, Ohio), often known as The Boss, is an American businessman and the principal owner of Major League Baseballs New York Yankees. ... This article is currently under construction // This year in baseball Events January-March January 3 - A group of investors, headed by shipbuilder George Steinbrenner, purchases the New York Yankees from CBS for $10 million. ... This is about the stadium the New York Yankees currently play in. ...


He then left the Yankee organization to become the manager of the rebuilding Detroit Tigers. His 1975 team lost 102 games, but by 1978 Houk had restored Detroit to respectability and brought to the majors future stars of the Sparky Anderson Tigers such as Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell and Jack Morris. After an 86-76 season in 1978, Houk retired. Major league affiliations American League (1901–present) Central Division (1998–present) Current uniform Retired Numbers 2, 5, 6, 16, 23, 42 Name Detroit Tigers (1901–present) Other nicknames The Bless You Boys Ballpark Comerica Park (2000–present) Tiger Stadium (1912-1999) Briggs Stadium (1938-1960) Navin Field (1912-1938) Bennett... This article is currently under construction // This year in baseball Events January-June January 23 - Ralph Kiner is elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America. ... The following are the baseball events of the year 1978 throughout the world. ... George Lee Sparky Anderson (born February 22, 1934 in Bridgewater, South Dakota) is fifth on the all-time list for manager career wins in Major League Baseball (behind Connie Mack, John McGraw, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox) and is the first manager to win the World Series while leading... Louis Rodman Lou Whitaker, Jr. ... Alan Stuart Trammell (born February 21, 1958 in Garden Grove, California) was an American baseball shortstop of the Detroit Tigers from 1977 to 1996. ... John Scott Jack Morris (born May 16, 1955 in St. ...


Boston Red Sox

Since the late 1950s, Houk and the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees' arch-rivals, had flirted over their manager's job. After two years of retirement, in the autumn of 1980, Houk (at 61) was ready to get back into baseball and when the Red Sox called about their open managerial post (they had fired Don Zimmer), he jumped at the chance. Major league affiliations American League (1901–present) East Division (1969–present) Current uniform Retired Numbers 1, 4, 8, 9, 27, 42 Name Boston Red Sox (1908–present) Boston Americans (1901-1907) Other nicknames The BoSox, The Olde Towne Team, The Sox Ballpark Fenway Park (1912–present) Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds... This article is currently under construction // This year in baseball Events January 9 - Al Kaline and Duke Snider are elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America. ... Donald William Zimmer (born January 17, 1931 in Cincinnati, Ohio) is a former infielder, manager and coach in Major League Baseball. ...


Although not as daunting as his Detroit assignment, Houk faced another rebuilding job: the powerful Boston team of the 1970s was about to lose marquee players such as Carlton Fisk and Fred Lynn and needed to retool its roster. But Houk rose to the challenge, and in four seasons produced three over-.500 teams. On his watch, Boston broke in young players such as Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Bruce Hurst and Marty Barrett. When Houk retired from managing permanently in October 1984, just after his 65th birthday, he bequeathed the core of another pennant winning ballclub (in this case, in 1986) to his successor, John McNamara. Carlton Ernest Fisk (born December 26, 1947 in Bellows Falls, Vermont) is a former Major League Baseball catcher who played for 24 years with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox. ... Frederic Michael Fred Lynn (born February 3, 1952 in Chicago, Illinois) is a former Major League Baseball outfielder who played for the Boston Red Sox (1974-80), California Angels (1981-84), Baltimore Orioles (1985-88), Detroit Tigers (1988-89) and San Diego Padres (1990). ... Wade Anthony Boggs (born June 15, 1958 in Omaha, Nebraska) is a former third baseman in Major League Baseball, primarily with the Boston Red Sox, whose hitting in the 1980s and 1990s dominated the American League in much the same way as his National League contemporary Tony Gwynn. ... William Roger Clemens (born August 4, 1962, in Dayton, Ohio), nicknamed The Rocket is a starting pitcher for the New York Yankees, and is one of the preeminent Major League baseball pitchers of the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. ... Bruce Vee Hurst (born March 24, 1958 in St. ... Martin Glenn Barrett (born June 23, 1958) is a former Major League Baseball second baseman who played with the Boston Red Sox (1982-90) and San Diego Padres (1991). ... The following are the baseball events of the year 1984 throughout the world. ... This article is currently under construction // This year in baseball Events January 8 - Willie McCovey is the only player elected this year to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America, and becomes the 16th player elected in his first year of eligibility. ... For other persons named John McNamara, see John McNamara (disambiguation). ...


His final record, over 20 years with the Yankees (1961-63, 1966-73), Tigers (1974-78) and Red Sox (1981-84) was 1,619 wins and 1,531 losses (.514), plus eight wins and eight losses in the World Series. After his first three championship seasons, he never appeared in the postseason.


Late career

Houk served in the front office of the Minnesota Twins under Andy MacPhail, Lee's son, from 1986-88 before quitting the game for good. Major league affiliations American League (1901–present) Central Division (1994–present) Current uniform Retired Numbers 3, 6, 14, 29, 34, 42 Name Minnesota Twins (1961–present) Washington Nationals/Senators (1901-1960) Other nicknames The Twinkies Ballpark Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome 1982-present Metropolitan Stadium (1961-1981) Griffith Stadium (1903-1960... Andy MacPhail (April 5, 1953 - ) has been the president/CEO of the National League Chicago Cubs since September 9, 1994. ...


Colorful opinions about Houk can be found in Jim Bouton's classic 1970 memoir, Ball Four. Houk was Bouton's first major league manager and sparred with him over contracts when Houk was the Yankees' GM. Jim Bouton James Alan Bouton (born March 8, 1939 in Newark, New Jersey, USA) is a former Major League Baseball player, and author of the controversial baseball book Ball Four, which was a combination diary of his 1969 season and memoir of his years with the New York Yankees. ... James Alan Bouton (born March 8, 1939 in Newark, New Jersey) was a Major League Baseball player and author of the controversial baseball book Ball Four, which was a combination diary of his 1969 season and memoir of his years with the New York Yankees. ...


External link

  • Baseball-Reference.com - career playing statistics and managing record
Preceded by
Casey Stengel
New York Yankees Manager
1961-1963
Succeeded by
Yogi Berra
Preceded by
Roy Hamey
New York Yankees General Manager
19631966
Succeeded by
Dan Topping Jr.
Preceded by
Johnny Keane
New York Yankees Manager
1966-1973
Succeeded by
Bill Virdon
Preceded by
Joe Schultz
Detroit Tigers Manager
1974-1978
Succeeded by
Les Moss
Preceded by
Johnny Pesky
Boston Red Sox manager
1981–1984
Succeeded by
John McNamara

  Results from FactBites:
 
Red Sox Spring Training in the 1980s - Ralph Houk (703 words)
As I sit at Houk’s table, I remind myself that this is the same Ralph Houk who has been known to peel paint off the walls when addressing smart-aleck writers.
Except that Ralph is now in the mellow years with nothing to prove and confident in his abilities, a man tempered by time and also by the knowledge that he has a good ball club.
Houk is signaling us not to get our hair mussed over a meaningless loss.
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