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Burt Shotton
Outfielder/Manager
Born: October 18, 1884(1884-10-18)
Brownhelm Township, Lorain County, Ohio
Died: July 29, 1962 (aged 77)
Lake Wales, Florida
Batted: Left Threw: Right 
MLB debut
September 13, 1909 for the St. Louis Browns
Last MLB appearance
April 21, 1923 for the St. Louis Cardinals
Career statistics
Batting average     .271
Home runs     9
Runs batted in     290
Managerial record     697-764
Teams

As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards
  • Won two National League Pennants as Manager of Brooklyn

Burton Edwin Shotton (October 18, 1884 — July 29, 1962) was an American player, manager, coach and scout in Major League Baseball. As manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers (1947, 1948-50), he won two National League pennants and served as Jackie Robinson's first permanent major league manager.

Contents

Playing career: Fleet-of-foot outfielder

Shotton was born in Brownhelm, a township in Lorain County, Ohio. In his playing days, he was a speedy outfielder — he was nicknamed "Barney" after race car driver Barney Oldfield — who batted left-handed and threw right-handed. He compiled a .270 batting average for the St. Louis Browns, Washington Senators and St. Louis Cardinals (1909; 1911-23), and stole over 40 bases in four consecutive seasons (1913-16). In an American League dominated by speedsters such as Ty Cobb and Clyde Milan, Shotton was never among the top five base stealers in the league, but he pilfered 294 bases during his MLB career and twice (in 1913 and 1916) led AL batters in walks.[1]

In the early 1920s, as a player and coach, he was the Cardinals' "Sunday manager," relieving skipper Branch Rickey, who always observed the Christian Sabbath. Rickey and Shotton had formed a longstanding friendship and professional relationship dating back to their years together (1913-15) with the Browns.

Baptism of fire in Philadelphia

Shotton spent two years (1926-27) as skipper of the Cardinals' top farm club, the Syracuse Stars of the AA International League. His first formal major league managing opportunity came with the NL's traditional tailending team, the Philadelphia Phillies; he lasted six seasons (1928-33) with the Phils, who twice lost more than 100 games during his tenure. More notably, under Shotton the Phillies finished above .500 once — in 1932, the only winning season the team would record between 1917 and 1949.

After coaching with the Cincinnati Reds (in 1934, including a 1-1 record as manager) and Cleveland Indians (1942-45), and a long stint (1935-41) as a minor league manager for the Cardinals' Rochester Red Wings and Columbus Red Birds farm clubs, Shotton had settled into a scouting role for the Dodgers (where Rickey was president and general manager) when he received a telegram summoning him to Brooklyn on the eve of the 1947 season. "Come at once, see no one, say nothing," Rickey's wire admonished.

A stand-in for Durocher

Flying immediately to Flatbush, not knowing what to expect, Shotton was ushered into Rickey's presence. Leo Durocher, the Dodgers' iconic manager since 1939, had been suspended for the entire '47 campaign by Baseball Commissioner Happy Chandler. In his search for a temporary replacement, Rickey had been rebuffed by former New York Yankees manager Joe McCarthy and two of Durocher's coaches, Clyde Sukeforth (who managed the first two games of the season on an emergency basis) and Ray Blades.

Rickey pleaded with Shotton to take over the Dodgers for the season. Then 62, and convinced that his on-field career was over, Shotton reluctantly took the reins in street clothes. (Shotton was one of the last baseball managers to wear everyday apparel rather than the club uniform. Unlike Connie Mack, Shotton did usually add his team's cap and jacket.) He inherited what historian Jules Tygiel called Baseball's Great Experiment — the Dodgers' and Robinson's breaking of the infamous color line to end sixty years of racial segregation in baseball. The rookie was facing withering insults from opposing players, and a petition by Dodger players protesting Robinson's presence had only recently been quashed by Durocher.

Shotton's calm demeanor, however, provided the quiet leadership the Dodgers needed. They won the pennant by five games, and took the New York Yankees to seven games in the 1947 World Series before bowing. With Durocher's suspension over, Shotton retired again to a front office post. But the 1948 Dodgers did not respond to Durocher's return; they even (briefly) fell into the NL cellar. Durocher was also under siege by the Catholic Youth Organization because of his scandalous extramarital relationship with, and then quick marriage to, actress Laraine Day.

Return to Brooklyn's bench

With the New York Giants also floundering, owner Horace Stoneham decided to replace his manager, Mel Ott, with Shotton. He called Rickey to ask permission to speak with Shotton, and was stunned when Rickey offered him the opportunity to hire Durocher instead. On July 16, 1948, Durocher moved from Brooklyn to Harlem, and Shotton was back in the Dodger dugout — still in street clothes. He rallied the Dodgers to a third place finish in 1948, then won his second pennant in 1949, again bowing to the Yankees in the World Series, this time in only five games. Nevertheless, he continually faced criticism from Durocher loyalists on the Dodgers — who claimed that Shotton was a poor game strategist — and from noted New York Daily News baseball writer Dick Young, who came to refer to him in print only by the acronym KOBS, short for "Kindly Old Burt Shotton."

In 1950, despite chronic pitching woes, Shotton guided the Dodgers to within a game of first place on the final day of the season. When Dick Sisler's home run off Don Newcombe won the pennant for the Phillies' "Whiz Kids", the Dodger season was over. So was Shotton's managerial career. Rickey was forced from the Brooklyn front office by new majority owner Walter O'Malley at the end of the 1950 season. Back home in Winter Haven, Florida, Shotton ignored O'Malley's repeated suggestions that he fly to Brooklyn to "discuss his future." "I don't intend to go all the way up there just to be fired," Shotton said. Indeed, O'Malley had already decided on Chuck Dressen as his new manager.

Shotton's last connection with baseball was as a consultant for Rickey's Continental League, the planned "third major league" that ultimately forced expansion of MLB in 1961-62. In 1960, Shotton was engaged by Rickey, the CL president, to assist and supervise the managers in the Western Carolinas League, a Class D minor league originally set up to groom talent for the CL.[2]

He died in Lake Wales, Florida, of a heart attack at age 77 during the second All-Star break in 1962; his career record as a big league manager was 697-764 (.477).

According to an informal look by researchers at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, it's believed that the last manager to wear a suit was Burt Shotton of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who last managed a game in 1950.[3]

See also

References

  1. ^ McMillan's Baseball Encyclopedia, 10th edition.
  2. ^ Lowenfish, Lee, Branch Rickey: Baseball's Ferocious Gentleman. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007
  3. ^ Major League Baseball's Worst Idea

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Stuffy McInnis
Philadelphia Phillies Manager
1928–1933
Succeeded by
Jimmie Wilson
Preceded by
Bob O'Farrell
Cincinnati Reds Manager
1934
Succeeded by
Chuck Dressen
Preceded by
Leo Durocher
Leo Durocher
Brooklyn Dodgers Manager
1947
1948–1950
Succeeded by
Leo Durocher
Chuck Dressen
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