February 2011

Chuck Tanner Memories


Chuck Tanner with the Dallas-Ft. Worth Rangers in 1962.

 

Former major league manager Chuck Tanner passed away on February 11 at age 82.

Perhaps best known for managing the 1979 world champion Pittsburgh Pirates, Tanner’s playing career ended with the Angels and his managing career began with the Angels.

Credit for Tanner’s Angels connection goes to Roland Hemond, who was the Angels’ original farm and scouting director.

I interviewed Roland in June 2007. Click here to listen. Roland said that he and Angels General Manager Fred Haney knew Tanner from their Milwaukee Braves days. Tanner was with the Braves’ organization from 1946 (when the team was still in Boston) through 1957, when he was claimed on waivers by the Chicago Cubs. The Angels purchased Tanner’s contract from the Cleveland Indians on September 8, 1961 and had ten plate appearances with the original Halos before season’s end.

Tanner appeared in 114 games with the Dallas-Ft. Worth Rangers in 1962. The Rangers were the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate, but shared their affiliation with the Philadelphia Phillies. Among his teammates were Angels Jim Fregosi, Fred Newman, Bob Lee and Phillies Pat Corrales and Cookie Rojas.

Hemond told me that as the Rangers neared season’s end, Tanner told him of a desire to begin a managing career. Haney and Hemond released him as a player during the winter and assigned him to manage the Angels’ minor league affiliate in Quad Cities, Iowa.

Over eight years as an Angels minor league manager, he had a cumulative win-loss record of 561-537 (.511).

During the 1970 season, Hemond was hired as the general manager of the Chicago White Sox. Roland hired Tanner as his manager. In 1972, the White Sox finished 87-67; Hemond was named Executive of the Year and Tanner was named Manager of the Year. But the Sox never posted another winning season under Tanner, and he was fired after the 1975 season.

Tanner was one of three D-FW Rangers to go on to a major league managing job. Jim Fregosi, Bob Rodgers, Cookie Rojas and Pat Corrales all went on to managing in the majors, the first three had stints with the Angels.

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