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Billy Meyer
Catcher / Manager
Born: January 14, 1893(1893-01-14)
Knoxville, Tennessee
Died: March 31, 1957 (aged 64)
Knoxville, Tennessee
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
September 6, 1913 for the Chicago White Sox
Last MLB appearance
September 18, 1917 for the Philadelphia Athletics
Career statistics
Batting average     .236
Home runs     1
Runs batted in     21
Games managed     774
Win-Loss record     317-452
Winning %     .412
Teams

As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards

William Adam Meyer (January 14, 1893 – March 31, 1957) was an American baseball player and manager. He holds the dubious distinction as having played for, and managed, two of the worst teams in the history of Major League Baseball.

A catcher who spent most of his playing career in the minor leagues, Meyer broke into the majors with the 1913 Chicago White Sox, but played only one game. Three years later, in 1916, he returned to the American League with the Philadelphia Athletics; he appeared in 50 games for a squad that won only 36 games and lost 117. (The following year, he played in 62 games for an A's club that "improved" to a 55-98 mark.)

Then, a generation-and-a-half later, Meyer piloted the 1952 Pittsburgh Pirates to the worst record in their history, the Bucs winning only 42 of 154 games.

Contents

Successful minor league manager

Despite his association with these debacles, Meyer was a highly respected figure in baseball. He spent a dozen years (1936-47) as the manager of top farm clubs for the New York YankeesOakland of the Pacific Coast League, Kansas City of the American Association, and Newark of the International League, winning four league championships. Unfortunately for Meyer, the skipper of the Yankees for most of that time was the legendary Joe McCarthy (ironically, a close friend of Meyer's), and he was never called to manage the big club. In 19 seasons as a minor league skipper, Meyer's clubs won 1,605 and lost 1,325 (.548). After his 1939 Kansas City club won 107 games, Meyer was named Minor League Manager of the Year by The Sporting News.

Skipper of 1948-52 Pittsburgh Pirates

Finally, after being passed over as McCarthy's successor three times in 1946-47 (in favor of Bill Dickey, Johnny Neun and Bucky Harris), Meyer was offered the managing job with the last-place Pirates. In his first year, Pittsburgh rose to fourth place in the 1948 National League standings, improving by 21 games to a record of 83-71. The Sporting News named him Major League Manager of the Year. At year's end, the Yankees fired Harris and asked the Pirates for permission to offer their manager's job to Meyer; newly appointed Yankee general manager George Weiss knew and respected Meyer from their long association in the Yanks' farm system. But the Yankees' overtures were rebuffed, and Weiss was forced to hire his second choice: Casey Stengel, who would win ten pennants in 12 years in the Bronx on his way to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Meyer remained in Pittsburgh, but the Pirates—despite the home run heroics of Ralph Kiner—quickly plummeted back to the bottom of the NL standings. By 1950, they were back in the cellar, and legendary executive Branch Rickey became Pittsburgh's general manager. His solution was to purge the team of high-salaried veterans and bring up young players from the minors. The tactic had worked for Rickey with the St. Louis Cardinals and Brooklyn Dodgers, but backfired disastrously in Pittsburgh, since most of the youngsters he called up were not ready for the majors. They managed to improve to seventh in 1951, but by 1952, the team hit its nadir, losing 112 games. Meyer was replaced by Fred Haney at the end of that campaign.

Honored by native city

Despite a managing record of 317-452 (.412) over five seasons, all with Pittsburgh, and a career batting average of only .236 (with one home run and 21 runs batted in), Meyer was given two significant honors, a measure of how widely respected he was. For years the baseball park in his native city of Knoxville, Tennessee, was named Bill Meyer Stadium. And the Pirates retired Meyer's uniform number (1), despite that horrible 1952 campaign.

Meyer was frequently troubled by ill health during the last decade of his managerial career. Once in retirement, he suffered a stroke in 1955 and died two years later, in Knoxville, of a heart attack at age 64.

Preceded by
Bill Burwell
Pittsburgh Pirates Manager
1948-1952
Succeeded by
Fred Haney

External links

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