ST. LOUIS, Mo.--We've all had a bad idea once in a while. Perhaps it was that third wife, or that stock tip from uncle Leo. But you would have to think long and hard before stubbing your toe worse than the Cubs did in 1960. And this was before they traded Brock for Broglio. First, a little background.
In 1960, the Cubs finished 60-94. They avoided losing 100 games only because the season was eight games shorter before man went into space. This was the 14th straight second-division finish for our hero's, and Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley decided he had seen enough. Wrigley put down his juicy fruit, and announced the Cubs would no longer have a manager.
The Cubs would employ an 8 man committee, called the "The College of Coaches," and between 1961 and 1965, the Cubs did not have a manager. Here was the Cubs brain trust: El Tappe, Charlie Grimm, Goldie Holt, Bobby Adams, Harry Craft, Verlon Walker, Ripper Collins and Vedie Himsl. Wrigley thought it would be better for the Cubs to be exposed to the wisdom and experience of eight men instead of just one. Wrigley said he was tired of firing managers, so he decided not to hire any. When pressed for an answer as to how this was possibly going to work, Wrigley actually had a well thought out rebuttal.
"We certainly cannot do much worse trying a new system than we have done for many years under the old," he said. And then there was this gem.
"Managers are expendable. I believe there should be relief managers just like relief pitchers."
It was still years before the world would learn the phrase "lost in space."
The "committee" took turns navigating the Cubs around the cellar of the National League. There was no pattern in the coaching rotation, and eventually, the coaches were at odds with each other. Every time they rotated managers, the new guy had a different lineup, and tried playing a different style of game. There was one constant: the Cubs kept losing.
The Cubs even tried this system on their minor league teams. They lost too.
In 1961, the Cubs finished 64-90 record, a whopping 4 game improvement over the prior year. In 1962, the Cubs turned in the worst record in their history, 59-103, finishing ninth in the expanded NL; just ahead of the expansion Mets, and behind the second expansion Houston Colt .45s. In four seasons without a manager, the Cubs never finished better than 7th. Amazingly, the "College of Coaches" has never been attempted by another Major League Baseball team,
At the end of the 1965 season, the cubs hired Leo Durocher, and at his press conference he pulled an Al Haig and declared himself the manager.
"Jolly Cholly" Grimm used to play the banjo on the side. He was once the Cubs general manager, the big boss, but decided to quit that post to manage in AA. This would be like Theo throwing in the towel to sit in the dugout at Nashville. By the 1950's, Grimm was settled in retirement. Settled, until the Cubs called him to be their manager in 1960. After the team began so poorly, the Cubs decided to make Jolly Cholly their radio announcer, and send their radio announcer down on the field to manage the team. Sort of like a trade.
Well, that didn't work out very well either, so when the year was over, the Cubbies invented the "College of Coaches." Incredibly, they brought Grimm back out of the radio both to be one of the coaches. Jolly Cholly's ashes are spread at Wrigley Field.
And even more bonus coverage.
In 1975, after a dreadful season, on top of numerous dreadful season’s, Mr. Wrigley decided the Cubs needed a new General Manager. I’m sure they did. After an exhaustive, thorough, nationwide search, the Cubs announced that Salty Saltwell would take over the position. Saltwell had an extensive background, most recently as the Cubs director of concession stands.
Incredibly, it did not work out well.
About the author: Bob Cyphers has 35 years experience as a journalist in newspaper, radio and television. Sadly, he has even more experience as a die-hard, heartbroken, beaten down Cub fan. And although he promises that his beloved Cubs, as Ernie Banks predicted, will be "Supreme in 2015," deep down Bob understands that life, and the Cubbies, offers no guarantees.