Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday School: History Lesson 7

Eddie Sawyer was a highly regarded Yankees' outfield prospect until a shoulder injury knocked him out of action in 1939. Sawyer never made it to the majors as a player, but earned college degrees from Cornell University and Ithica College prior to playing in the minors. With his playing days over, he began managing in the minor leagues, trying to work his way up the ladder.

In 1944, Sawyer took over as manager in Utica, which was the Phillies' Eastern League affiliate, in those days. There, Eddie Sawyer was responsible for moving a young Richie Ashburn from catcher to the outfield. Sawyer began the 1948 season managing the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Phillies' triple A team, and midway through the 1948 season, the Phillies fired manager Ben Chapman, and Sawyer was promoted to the big club. At the time, some press questioned the move of hiring a man who has never played in the majors, as the manager.

Sawyer's arrival in the majors coincided with the development of some young Phillies prospects besides Ashburn. Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts and future all star Granny Hamner were 21 year olds, along with Ashburn, and together they would propel our Phillies to a huge pennant win in 1950. Sawyer was named manager of the year following that season, and he told the Associated Press, "Build up a fellow's confidence and you build up his ability. Knock him all the time, his confidence disappears and the battle is lost.''

Unfortunately, 1950 would be Sawyer's last winning season as a manager. In 1951, the Phils finished in 5th place. The next year, with the team struggling to compete, in fourth place, Sawyer was fired.

In 1958, the Phillies re-hired Eddie Sawyer as the manager of the big league club. In '58 and '59, the Phils finished in last place and one game into the 1960 season, Sawyer abruptly quit and delivered a classic quote..."I'm 49 years old, and I want to live to be 50." Sawyer stayed in the game as a scout for both the Phils and the Royals.

1 comment:

OBC said...

another good one...