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Billy Gardner
Second Baseman
Born: July 19, 1927 (1927-07-19) (age 82)
Waterford, Connecticut
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
April 22, 1954 for the New York Giants
Last MLB appearance
September 11, 1963 for the Boston Red Sox
Career statistics
AVG     .237
Hits     841
RBI     271
Teams

As Player

As Manager

Career highlights and awards

William Frederick Gardner (born July 19, 1927 in Waterford, Connecticut) is an American former Major League Baseball player, coach and manager. Gardner was a scrappy light-hitting second baseman who batted and threw right-handed. Gardner played for the New York Giants, Baltimore Orioles, Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, and the Boston Red Sox. His only significant time on any team was with the Orioles, where he had four straight full seasons with them from 1956-1959. He was also notable for managing the Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals.

Contents

MLB playing career

Gardner was signed by the Giants in 1945 and came up with them on April 22, 1954, but he could not break into the contending team's lineup. In early 1956, he was purchased by the Orioles, which is where his career really began, and he would begin to secure himself as an every-day player.

Gardner was not speedy, picking up a career-high of only 10 steals, but in his best season of 1957, he did lead the league in doubles with 36, and at bats with 644. He played in every one of the 154 games that season, batting .262 with 6 home runs and 55 RBIs. In his career, Gardner also came in the top 10 in hit by pitches twice (1956, '57), with a career-high of 8 in 1957 (5th in the league).

He wound up as a utility infielder on the powerful 1961 Yankees, winning the 1961 World Series with them against the Cincinnati Reds. In his one and only at bat of the post-season, he lined out to shortstop in the 9th inning of Game 2. The Yankees lost the game 6-2. He was never an every-day player with the Yankees, because they had Bobby Richardson to fill the second base spot. Gardner ended his career with two years on the Red Sox, picking up 70 hits with them in 283 at bats.

Nicknamed "Shotgun" for his rifle arm,[1] Gardner led American League second basemen in fielding percentage in 1957 (.987), including 55 consecutive errorless games, and finished with a .976 fielding mark all-time.

In all or parts of ten seasons, Gardner batted .237 with 41 home runs and 271 RBIs in 1034 games played. He picked up 841 hits, with 159 doubles and 18 triples in 3544 career at bats. He finished with 19 career steals.

As a manager and coach

After finishing his career with the Red Sox, Gardner stayed in the Boston organization for eight more seasons as a minor league coach and manager (1964; 1967-71) and major league third-base coach (1965-66). He then managed in the Kansas City Royals farm system from 1972-76, coached for the Montreal Expos in 1977-78, and was a skipper in the Montreal farm system in 1979-80.

Gardner rejoined the Twins as a third-base coach for the 1981 season. He was promoted to manager on May 23, 1981, replacing Johnny Goryl, and served until June 21, 1985, never leading Minnesota to the playoffs and avoiding a losing record only once (1984, at 81-81). On the bright side, Gardner incorporated young players such as Kent Hrbek, Kirby Puckett, Frank Viola and Tim Laudner into the Twin lineup, beginning the foundation of the club's two World Series clubs to come.

After a 268-353 record with Minnesota, Gardner received a second chance to manage under difficult circumstances with the 1987 Royals. Gardner initially signed as the Royals' 1987 third-base coach. But terminally ill Royals manager Dick Howser, diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor during the summer of 1986, was forced to retire during spring training, and Gardner was promoted to fill the vacancy. He was fired on August 28 of that year after going 62-64, and John Wathan took over. His career record as a manager was 330-417, a .442 winning percentage.

His son, Billy Gardner, Jr., a former minor league infielder, is a manager in the Tampa Bay Rays' organization. He skippered the Montgomery Biscuits in the Double-A Southern League in 2007, leading them to an 81-59, first place finish and the league playoff title.

See also

References

  1. ^ Ellis, Jim, This Shotgun Protects the Birds, Baseball Digest, June 1958, pp. 25-29

External links

Preceded by
Johnny Goryl
Minnesota Twins Manager
1981-1985
Succeeded by
Ray Miller
Preceded by
Mike Ferraro
Kansas City Royals Manager
1987
Succeeded by
John Wathan
Preceded by
Billy Herman
Boston Red Sox third-base coach
1965-66
Succeeded by
Eddie Popowski
Preceded by
Eddie Kasko
Louisville Colonels Manager
1970
Succeeded by
Darrell Johnson
Preceded by
Matt Sczesny
Pawtucket Red Sox (Eastern League) Manager
1971
Succeeded by
Don Lock
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