Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Sunday Funnies

Having told a couple of Zeke Bonura stories, let's milk Jimmy Dykes -- almost certainly the source of those two -- for another.

A bit of background: Dykes had a long playing career, mostly with the Philadelphia Athletics -- he held the Athletics franchise record for games played for decades until Bert Campaneris broke it in Oakland -- and was part of the core of Connie Mack's second dynasty.

The 1929-31 Athletics won two World Series and lost the third in seven games. Dykes wasn't at the level of Hall of Fame teammates Lefty Grove, Jimmy Foxx, Mickey Cochrane and Al Simmons, but he wasn't far off. (Neither were Max Bishop, George Earnshaw, Bing Miller and Mule Haas; it was a legitimately great team.)

But it was the Depression, and Mack sold off his stars after losing the 1931 Series -- Grove and Foxx to the Red Sox, Cochrane to Detroit, Simmons, Earnshaw and Dykes to the White Sox. A few years later, Dykes became the player manager with the Sox, then transtioned to bench manager. He held the job through World War II, then got canned during the 1946 season.

Dykes never finished higher than third with Chicago, but was regarded as a good manager; the sense was that he got more out of the limited talent he had than most would have (probably true). Meanwhile, the aging Mack was presiding over a continuing decline in fortunes in Philadelphia. The 1946 A's went 49-105, and the team had lost at least 90 games every year but one in the decade.

While nobody could fire Mack -- he also owned the team -- and he was determined to get 50 years in as manager, his sons knew they had to do something.

So they rebanded some of the dynastic disapora. Cochrane returned to serve as general manager. Simmons was brought back for the coaching staff. And Dykes was offered a position as "associate manager." Mack, well into his 80s, would be, in effect, a figurehead; Dykes would be doing the day-to-day work. (Dykes got the team back above .500 the next three years.)

The deal was struck, and all that remained was the formalities. Dykes was ushered into Mack's office to be reunited with the old man who had launched his career so many years before.

"Jimmy," Mack began, "I can't afford to pay you what you deserve."

"Jeeze," replied Dykes, "do we have to pick up right where we left off?"

No comments:

Post a Comment