John Joseph McGraw
Born: April 7, 1873 - Truxton, NY
Died: February 25, 1934 - New Rochelle, NY
Career BA: .334
Managerial Record: 2,763–1,948
Baltimore Orioles AA/NL (1891–1898; player-manager: 1899)
St. Louis Cardinals NL (1900)
Baltimore Orioles AL (player-manager: 1901–1902)
New York Giants NL (player-manager: 1902–1906; manager: 1907–1932)
If you were to build a Mount Rushmore of baseball managers, John McGraw would have to be part of any foursome. McGraw managed the New York Giants from 1902 to 1932, winning ten National League pennants and three World Championships. Along the way, he influenced the game of baseball like no one before or since. At 5-foot, 7-inches, 155 pounds, McGraw was famously known as “Little Napoleon,” and the name fit like one of his trademark suits. McGraw was given to violent outbursts toward his players, the opposition, and, of course, umpires. He was not, however, all brimstone and no brains. On the contrary, McGraw brought a cerebral quality to managing, using his mind as much as his mouth.
Overshadowed by his amazing managerial record is the fact that John McGraw was one heck of a ballplayer. Some of his numbers are downright unfathomable. With Baltimore in 1898 and 1899, he led the league in runs scored, with 143 and 140, respectively. He also drew a league-leading 236 walks in those two seasons. McGraw had a ridiculous career on-base percentage of .466, and between 1899 and 1901, his OBP exceeded .500. He was a career .334 hitter, and a smart speedster with outstanding base running skills.
McGraw was as strong of heart as he was of body and mind. Over the course of his life, he overcame the deaths of his mother, three siblings, and later, his wife. As a child, McGraw was physically abused by his father and eventually moved to a neighboring inn. Despite these personal setbacks, McGraw’s focus was unshaken. His conservative, buttoned-down veneer aside, McGraw was a worldly sort, performing in Vaudeville shows and investing in pool halls, race tracks, and casinos.
First and foremost, however, McGraw was a winner. In 33 years as a manager with the Orioles and Giants, he won 2,763 games, second only to Connie Mack. Heed the words of the man himself, “In playing or managing, the game of ball is only fun for me when I'm out in front and winning,” said McGraw. “I don’t give a hill of beans for the rest of the game.” Although retired, John McGraw was selected to manage the National League team in the first All-Star game in 1933, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1937.
– Tom and Ellen Zappala, The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players. For more information on their book and/or to order a copy at a special PSA discount, visit http://crackerjackplayers.com/PSA_order.html