It seems strange to type this, but being manager of the New York Yankees is one of the steadiest gigs in all of baseball.
Since 1996, Joe Torre and Joe Girardi have been the only managers in the dugout in the Bronx.
2 managers over 22 seasons.
It wasn’t always like that. There was a period where being the Yankees manager was basically a temp position.
In an 18 year span, they made 19 managerial changes. Billy Martin was hired and fired 5 different times. Bob Lemon was hired twice and let go twice. So was Lou Piniella and Gene Michael. Dick Howser was an interim manager and permanent manager. Yogi Berra was fired less than a month into the season.
Making a Topps Card to reflect who was managing in the Bronx was an act in futility.
When Topps printed their 1989 set, they had a hastily airbrushed picture of Dallas Green, who took over after Lou Piniella was let go.
Dallas Green started the 1989 season as skipper but did not finish it. The team was lousy and his relationship with George Steinbrenner was worse. With the Yankee record 56-65, Green was let go.
Former Red Sox slayer and 1978 World Series MVP Bucky Dent was inserted into the managerial role. He began the 1990 season as Yankee manager and Topps printed the card on the left.
I already did a post about Mr. Bleeping Dent, so no need to rehash that. He lasted less than 50 games with the 1990 Yankees.
Oddly he was fired at Fenway Park, the scene of his greatest triumph.
Stump Merrill, a mainstay in the Yankees organization as a minor league manager and coach, was given the chance to manage a team that was a complete mess. They dumped future Hall of Famer Dave Winfield. Beloved superstar Don Mattingly was struggling through an injury plagued season.
Also their pitching was basically non existent.The 95 loss team played in front of indifferent fans and lots of empty seats.
The Topps update series printed a Merrill card and he actually finished the season and managed all of 1991 as well. The Yankees were a 91 loss squad in his second season. He was let go in favor of Buck Showalter, who basically along with Stick Michael rebuilt the team into champions and never got the credit.
Merrill returned to the Yankees minor league system. He managed their teams in Columbus and Norwich. He remained in one role or another through the 2010’s where he saw the fruits of his labor bring about several championships.
From his many positions, he saw the role of Yankee manager turn into a position of amazing stability. That was an impossibility while he and Bucky Dent were managing, keeping the editors at Topps constantly on their toes.
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