Gene Mauch’s Meltdown Mayhem


Gene Mauch Pennant Meltdowns

Gene Mauch was a long-time major league manager who, after an unspectacular journeyman-playing career was hired as 35-year-old manager with the 1960 Phillies.  He led the Phils to respectability in the National League having 6 consecutive winning seasons before accepting the skipper’s job with the expansion Expos.  He led the Expos until 1975.  He improved the ‘Spos by 19 games in their sophomore season and set them up with the players and tools needed to challenge for NL supremacy in the late 70s and into the 80s.  He spent 5 seasons in Minnesota before becoming bench boss in Orange County with the Angels in 1981.  He retired in 1987 with 1901 career wins as a manager, currently twelfth all time.  He is the Phillies all-time leader in manager wins.  He ranks third all time on the Expos, Angels and Twins all time manager wins list.  Despite this success he never managed in the World Series and took agonizing routes to stay out of the big show.  Here are some examples.




1986 ALCS California vs Boston – Mauch’s Angels are up 3-games-to-1 in the series heading into the bottom of the ninth up 5-2 at Anaheim Stadium.  Don Baylor hit a two run shot to bring the BoSox to within 1.  Lucas hits the next batter.  Mauch brings in his steady closer Donnie Moore.  Moore gives up a two run homerun with 2 outs to Dave Henderson.  Angels are able to tie the game in the bottom half but strand 3 with 1 out.  Angels go on to lose the game in 11 and the series in 7.

1985 AL West Pennant Race – After leading the AL West since May the Angels go into Royals Stadium for a 4 game set up a game with a week to go in the season.  Five games later the Angels are 3 games behind the Royals and need Brett and Co. to lose their final 2 games to force a playoff.  The Royals win and go onto win the World Series.

1982 ALCS California vs Milwaukee – Mauch’s Angels go up 2-0 at home.  They go into Milwaukee needing one win to clinch the best-of-five ALCS.  Up 3-1 in the deciding fifth game a seventh inning rally by the Brew Crew give Milwaukee a 4-3 win and the AL pennant.

1976 AL West Pennant Race – Mauch was leading the Twins in a terrible season and found themselves 14 games out in the middle of August.  The Twins go 25-15 the rest of the way including a sweep of AL West Champs Kansas City to end the season.  Too little too late Twins were 5-10 before that final series vs the Royals and of course finished 5 games behind.

1973 NL East Pennant Race – Mauch was leading the surprising Expos in a weak division.  After going 13-3 to start September the Expos had come as close as a half game behind the Pirates for the lead in the division.  The Pirates went 5-10 the rest of the way with 4 wins coming against the Expos.  The Expos could not take advantage of the sinking Pirate ship as they also went 4-10 with 3 wins coming against the Pirates.  Both the Cardinals and Mets were able to surpass the Expos as the Mets went 82-79 to take the NL East with the Expos in fourth 3.5 games out.  

1964 NL Pennant Race – After 150 of 162 regular season games Mauch’s Phillies seemed to be coasting to a NL Pennant. At 90-60 they are 6.5 games ahead of the Cardinals and Reds.  Instead the Phils lose 10 games in a row, including 3 against Cincy and 3 against the Cards.  After 160 games the Phils are a game behind the Reds and 2.5 behind the Cards.  With two games left in Cincy the best Mauch can hope for is a tie.  They beat the Reds twice.  The Cards lose 2 in a row to the lowly Mets only to have Bob Gibson on the mound for the win in the last game of the season and pennant clincher.

1959 Junior World Series – Minneapolis Millers (AA) vs Havana Sugar Kings (IL) The Mauch led Millers went into the seventh and deciding game leading in the eighth inning.  Amid the Cuban chaos and gunfire and the active intimidation from soldiers and even El Presidente Fidel Castro himself, the Millers gave up two runs in the eighth to tie the game and a RBI single in the bottom of the ninth won the game and the JWS for the Sugar Kings.    

1958 Junior World Series – Minneapolis Millers (AA) vs Montreal Royals (IL).  In Mauch’s first managing assignment he led the Millers to a Jr WS title in simple fashion by beating the Royals in 4 games straight.  Over the next 30 years Mauch would not manage in, let alone win a league title.

Written By