With Manager of the Year, there are two different versions of the Award, one that is given by the newspaper size publication, The Sporting News, which has been awarding the prize since 1936 (to one manager in both leagues, before giving an award to a manager in each league, since 1986) and the award given by the Baseball Writers Association of America to a manager in each league since 1983. Phillie managers have won only three awards, two from the Sporting News and one from the BBWAA. They were won by two Phil managers.
The first Phillie manager to win a Manager of the Year Award was Danny Ozark, who won The Sporting News Manager of the Year Award in 1976, as he led the Phils to their first National League Eastern Division crown, and their first championship since the 1950 Whiz Kids, as the Phil won the NL East with a record of 101-61 (which is still a team record) with a .623 winning percentage. The second and, so far, only other Phil manager to win a Manager of the Year Award was Larry Bowa, who, in 2001, won both The Sporting News Manager of the Year Award and the BBWAA Manager of the Year Award, as he led the Phil to a second place finish in the NL East, the Phil’s best finish since they had finished in third place in 1999, with a record of 86-76, and a winning percentage of .531.
Phil managers have won one Manager of the Year in the 20th Century and two (both to Larry Bowa) in the 21st Century. Neither manager is in the Hall of Fame, either as a player or as a manager.
Who would be the next Phil manager to win either version of the award? I have no idea, although Charlie Manuel could win it this year, because of how the Phils won the Eastern Division pennant this past season.
The Phillies had a few hours ago announced the passing of former Phillies’ manager, Danny Ozark.
According to a press release:
Danny Ozark, who ranked third for most wins among Phillies managers, died this morning at his home in Vero Beach, Fla. He was 85 years of age.
Mr. Ozark was named the Phillies manager on November 1, 1972. In his first five years, the Phillies won 71, 80, 86, 101 and 101 games. They won three consecutive National League Eastern Division titles starting in 1976, a record unmatched by any other Phillies manager. Each year, however, the Phillies missed on advancing to the World Series.
Mr. Ozark finished with a 594-510 record as Phillies manager (1973-79). His winning percentage of .538 is seventh-best in team history. He was named Manager of the Year in 1976 by the Associated Press and The Sporting News.
“Ginny and I really miss Philadelphia,” Mr. Ozark said in a Phillies Magazine story published last month. “We enjoyed our time there. That city is a great sports town. The fans are the greatest. They do express themselves, but that’s OK. We made a lot of lifelong friends there.”
Mr. Ozark began his pro career as a first baseman in the Brooklyn Dodgers system in 1942. Following a minor league career, he turned to managing in 1956, with the Dodgers’ Class B team in Wichita Falls.
Nine years later Mr. Ozark joined the Los Angeles Dodgers as a coach. After leaving the Phillies, he returned to the Dodgers as a coach (1980-82). His career ended with the San Francisco Giants as a coach (1983-84) and their interim manager in 1984 (24-32).
Born Daniel Leonard Orzechowski on November 24, 1923, in Buffalo, N.Y., he married Ginny Zdinski. The couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in February.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Ozark is survived by two children, Dwain and Darlene; three granddaughters; and four great-grandchildren. His hobbies included golf and following the Phillies. He was an active golfer in charity events conducted by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association.
Funeral arrangements are pending. (H/T Phillies.com)
And another ex-Phil goes to that red pinstriped heaven in the sky. My condolences to Danny’s family. And thanks, Danny, for helping make the Phils into a contender instead of the laughing stock of baseball back in the mid-70s.