Atlanta Braves Franchise Top Managers: #5 – Fred Haney
A Long Road to the Majors.
Haney played under Ty Cobb at Detroit and asked the same things of his team as Cobb had asked of him; competitiveness, aggressiveness, and an unending desire to win. He took that philosophy to Toledo in 1934 when he became player/manager of corporal Klinger’s favorite team, the Mudhens.
"“. . . he protested a doubleheader loss . . .after the umpire delayed a game while a telegram was sent to the league president changing the Columbus roster . . . The next day he was still seething and vigorously protested a call. He was ejected and, when he refused to leave the field, was escorted out by the police and suspended. . . .”"
The following year he got in a fight on the field with Burleigh Grimes. Haney was out of his weight class; it was a two-hit fight; Grimes hit Haney, Haney hit the ground, then Grime tried to adjust Haney’s looks with his spikes.
The Browns noticed Haney’s leadership in Toledo and made him their new skipper. He lasted through the start of the 1941 season before being demoted back to Toledo as manager.
He quit the game at the end of 1942 and returned to LA, where he became play-by-play announcer for both the Angels and Hollywood Stars minor league teams.
A Manager Again
Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker worked his way up the Braves system to earn his current post. But in the early days of the game, it was seldom done that way.
The Hollywood Stars asked Hany to manage in 1949. Haney wanted to keep his job as program director for KLAC and his radio show, and the team agreed. Before he signed his deal, he called Dodgers President Branch Rickey and got assurances the Dodgers would make the Stars one of their farm teams.
Acting as GM and manager, Haney replaced 16 of the 25 players on the Stars roster and warned his players that failing to hustle would result in their release. The Stars won the pennant by 5 1/2 games, and Haney was named Minor League Manager of the Year.
After recovering from viral pneumonia in the winter of 1951, Haney led the Stars to another pennant. This time Rickey Called Haney and made him manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Pirates were the worst team in baseball, and Rickey had ordered him to play the young players regardless of the results. The club was still the worst three years later, and Haney’s contract wasn’t renewed.
He’d expected it, but after a taste of the majors wanted to stay in the game at that level. He got his wish when the Braves hired him as a coach for Charlie Grimm.
Skipper of the Braves
Haney’s tenure with the Milwaukee Braves began 46 games into the season, and in many ways, mirrored Southworth’s start with the Boston Braves ten-years earlier. Grimm was a player’s manager who used a strict platoon with Joe Adcock facing lefties and Frank Torre facing righties.
|First 46 games||BA||OBP||SLG||OPS||HR|
Adcock hit all of the home runs, and while Torre had a good average, a .690 OPS isn’t good enough for a first baseman.
Haney scrapped the platoon, and Adcock responded by going 4-8, including three homers to help the Braves win both games of the doubleheader, and terrified National League pitching for the rest of the season.
The Braves won the next nine games; they started June 17, 24–22, five games out of first and ended July 36-25, in first place and one game up on the Reds. Despite a slump at the plate in September, the Braves led on September 28th
The Braves won the last game of the season behind the underrated Lew Burdette to finish 92-62-1, but the Dodgers won their game as well, giving them a 93-61 season and leaving the Braves in second, one game back. Under Haney, the Braves went 56-37 (.602 W-L%).