Profiling Phillies’ Manager Gene Mauch

Players recount the days of walking on eggshells.

Villanova, Pa., resident Lou Orlando, author of The Phillies Trivia Quiz Book (1994), once wrote of Gene Mauch, the Phillies manager from 1960-68, that he had “all the humility and modesty of Julius Caesar in his prime.” His intensity was as sharp as his tongue and his sense of baseball fundamentals—outside of handling pitchers. He insisted on calling pitches from the bench, something the likes of Hall of Famer Jim Bunning frowned upon. He even had the bullpen moved at Connie Mack Stadium so he could better see it.

Mauch became the Phils’ manager when then-skipper Eddie Sawyer, who managed the 1950 Whiz Kids, resigned after the first game in 1960. Mauch remains the winningest manager in baseball history to never win a pennant. He’s also never been inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame, though Larry Shenk, the Phillies’ longtime PR director and now vice president of alumni relations, has tried.

“Mauch could talk baseball,” says Shenk, of Wilmington. “When he did, it was like listening to an orchestra. It was beautiful baseball, and I was a Gene Mauch guy, but Gene was a challenge to work for, or to get close to. He didn’t warm up to people. When he left, we didn’t have much contact with him.”

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Mauch, who died in 2005, did return in 1979 for a 25th reunion of the ’64 team that collapsed and blew a pennant in the final two weeks 50 years ago but, thereafter, said he didn’t want to talk about ’64 again. But annually, if there was another team that was folding in September, Shenk says the phone rang in search of members willing to speak of the ’64 team.  —J.F.P.

More on Mauch … 

“He was a tyrant who made the whole team jumpy when he was around. I didn’t feel like it was an atmosphere conducive to long-term success. He left us all walking on eggshells. But I learned a lot from Gene, and a lot of good. He was a pusher, and when I managed I was a pusher as well. But we inherited different situations. I inherited a good team that had not been totally successful. He built [the ’64] team. But the day of winning with talented people was done by ’80. We had to play the game the way Gene taught it, and so I learned that from him.” —Dallas Green, Phillies alum, former manager and current senior adviser to the GM 

“He was an ingenious tactician with the things he did—pioneering the double switch and the way he platooned guys. But he was the type of manager that when he takes over, he makes a team better, but then over time he wears out his welcome. Still, they don’t even get close without Mauch.” —Andy Olcese, Exton, Pa.-based author and fan

“He was really uptight—and I was, too. I was a kid—and my pen ran out of ink. He was up around the ceiling, and I was with him because I was screwed. I forget what I asked [in ’64], but the answer was so indirect and irritated. I felt sorry for the guy. He was really under the gun. … Mauch started getting very nervous, and starting making moves beyond the realm of regular, reasonable good strategy. It was the universal atmosphere among the fans and players. You could see the players getting very tense.” —Rich Westcott, Springfield-based baseball author and historian, who was once left alone postgame with Mauch

“When my arm was sore, I was told to pitch. Then when I got well, I didn’t pitch—and [Mauch] laughed. He loved it. He left me in once to give up 11 earned runs, then looked like he was coming across the line to take me out, but only waved the bullpen to sit down. He didn’t like pitchers. He used to tell us that he hated every pitcher who ever lived.” —Former Phillies pitcher Art Mahaffey

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“I’m not the manager because I am always right, but I am always right because I am the manager.” —Mauch on himself

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