Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Cub Fact: No Manager from 1961 - 1965

,..or "Managers, We Don't Need No Stinkin' Managers"

The Topps 1961 set featured managers cards that looked like this:

Here is what the Cubs' manager card looked like:

And the 1962 card looked remarkably similar. There were no Cubs manager cards issued in either year because from 1961 to 1965 the Cubs had no manager. Instead they had a "Head Coach." This was all a part of eccentric owner P.K. Wrigley's ill-fated "College of Coaches" plan.

His idea was this: instead of a manager, there would be a group of coaches who would take turns leading the team. They would rotate between the Cubs and their minor league affiliates, taking turns teaching everyone in the system "the Cubs way" (yes, I know that sounds ridiculous, please keep your sarcastic comments about "the Cubs way" to yourself!)

Here is a photo of Wrigley and his coaches.

During the 1961 season, four different coaches led the team over the course of the season and they ended the year with four more wins that 1960's 60 wins, although the team still finished in 7th place. The 1962 season saw three coaches leading the team, this time to a 9th place finish and only 59 wins (and this was the year of the expansion Mets). Wrigley's idea sure was paying off!!

In 1963 the idea was for all practical purposes abandoned, as Bob Kennedy led the team the entire season, and with only one man at the helm, the team won 82 games. Go figure!! Kennedy again led the team in 1964 and Topps issued a card for him, where he is listed as "Head Coach." Kennedy (58 games) split coaching duties with Lou Klein (106 games) in 1965, and Topps again issued a head coach card for Kennedy. The team finished in 8th place with only 72 wins.

Topps 1964 Bob Kennedy, Head Coach - "OK Bob, now pretend you're giving the guys some instructions"

Topps 1965 Bob Kennedy Head Coach - "OK Bob, this time, pretend your pitcher just gave up another three run homer (and Bob didn't have to pretend!!)"

The "College of Coaches" was officially dumped when Leo Durocher was hired by the Cubs for the 1966 season. At the press conference announcing his hiring, Durocher stated flatly that he was the manager of the Chicago Cubs, period. He also said the Cubs were no 8th place team, and he was right as they finished in 10th place (last place) in 1966!!

Topps didn't issue a card for Leo Durocher in 1966, but they did in 1967 - Leo Durocher, MGR.

How can you not love a team that doesn't think it needs a manager?!?


  1. That is an intersting idea. I can't believe that I have never heard of that before.

  2. LOL! This whole thing is hilarious, from Wrigley's idea, to the ever-decreasing results, to Durocher's (inadvertently true) proclamation.

    Wasn't one of the "head coaches" named El Tappe?

    1. Yep..Tappe was head coach for about 90 games in '61 and 20 more in '62.