Stephen Francis “Steve” O’Neill
Born: July 3, 1891 - Minooka, PA
Died: January 26, 1962 - Cleveland, OH
Career BA: .263
Managerial Record: 1040–821
Cleveland Naps/Indians AL (1911–1923; manager: 1935–1937)
Boston Red Sox AL (1924; manager: 1950–1951)
New York Yankees AL (1925)
St. Louis Browns AL (1927–1928)
Detroit Tigers AL (manager: 1943–1948)
Philadelphia Phillies NL (manager: 1952–1954)
From all accounts, Steve O’Neill was one of the most respected men to ever play the game. More than that, he was beloved by players and fans. At his funeral, Commissioner Ford Frick called O’Neill “A man with no enemies in baseball.” Considering that his career spanned five decades, that is an amazing accomplishment.
O’Neill was one of four brothers who made it to the big leagues after starting out in the coal mines of Pennsylvania. Throughout his 17-year playing career, O’Neill was considered one of the best catchers in baseball. With Cleveland in 1920, he caught all seven games and batted .333 in the World Series helping propel the Indians to the Championship. A steady .263 lifetime hitter and an outstanding defensive specialist, O’Neill’s real strength was managing. He worked his way up from managing in the International League, and then skippered the Indians, Tigers, Red Sox and Phillies. In 1945, his Detroit Tigers won the World Series. O’Neill never had a losing record with any organization that he managed and ranks 51st on the all-time wins list.
His influence on players was legendary. One of the greatest mentors the game has ever known, O’Neill is credited with helping the career of Bob Feller and Lou Boudreau, among others. A caring mentor outside the lines as well, he once gave a lift to a young hitchhiker who ran away from home. As the story goes, he told the hitchhiker that no one can run away from their problems, and gave him money so he could get back home. Many years later that hitchhiker sent flowers to O’Neill’s funeral to honor the man he had never forgotten. Although O’Neill has been considered for entry into the Hall of Fame more than once, at this time he has not yet been inducted. Whether or not he ever gets into the Hall, Steve O’Neill will always be remembered as an exceptional manager and a great man.
– 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