There was a lot to celebrate last night. The Phillies won their franchise-best 102nd game in a season. They tore the heart out of their bitter division rival, the Atlanta Braves. They won their fourth game in a row, proving that reports of their demise during their eight game losing streak were greatly exaggerated. They gave us a thrilling extra inning performance going into the post-season.
And, as reported everywhere, Charlie Manuel won his 646th game as the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. To everyone who remembers when Manuel was hired, this is utterly remarkable. No one could have predicted this level of success. Not only has he steered the team to the division title and the playoffs five years in a row, but he has also led the team to the best record in the NL during his tenure. The closest NL team to the Phils' 646 wins is the St. Louis Cardinals at 614. And, with the Red Sox losing in spectacular fashion last night, the Phils and Red Sox are tied for second over this time period, behind only the Yankees (with 670 wins).
Manuel has been nothing short of spectacular as a manager. But, does he now have the most managerial wins in the team's history? By all reports, he does. Almost every media outlet reports that Manuel surpassed Gene Mauch, who had 645 wins as the Phillies manager between 1960 and 1968.
There's one problem with this story though: there isn't one online source that I can find that has Mauch at 645 wins. Rather, they all have him with 646 wins, the same number as Manuel. Here's just a sampling:
- Baseball Reference, the bible of online baseball statistics, has Mauch with 646 wins.
- The Baseball Almanac has Mauch with 58, 47, 81, 87, 92, 85, 87, 82, and 27 wins, for a total (not summed on the site) of 646.
- Wikipedia's list of Phillies managers has Mauch with 646.
The official MLB website doesn't have managerial stats (as far as I can tell). But, from piecing together the timeline of Mauch's career with the Phillies along with the official standings from the MLB website, I also get 646. Mauch started with the Phillies in the third game of the 1960 season. Eddie Sawyer started the season as the team's manager, but quit after an opening day loss of 9-4. (Reportedly, he said he had it with managing because "I'm 49 and I want to live to be 50.") Andy Cohen (no relation as far as I know) filled in for one game as the interim manager, which the Phils won. Gene Mauch was hired for game 3 of the season. He was fired 8 years later, 54 games into the 1968 season.
MLB's website indicates the Phillies won 59 games in 1960. One of those wins was with Cohen as the manager, so Mauch won 58 games. In the 1961 through 1967 seasons, MLB's website shows the same win totals as the Baseball Almanac - 47, 81, 87, 92, 85, 87, and 82. Mauch's last game was the second game of the July 14, 1968 doubleheader, after which the team had won 27 games. Adding it all up, Mauch won 646 games according to MLB.
So what accounts for the discrepancy? It's possible that all the online sources that I've looked at, many of which get their information from the authoritative Retrosheet opensource database, are wrong. Maybe there was a game that Mauch didn't manage in his 8 years? A night off for personal reasons or because he was suspended is certainly possible, and I assume that would count against his total. Beyond that, it's doubtful any of the win totals are wrong for the entire years Mauch managed, but maybe the history of when he started or when he ended is off by a game. The start is unlikely, as his first recorded game in all these sites was a loss, so that wouldn't adjust his win total down by a game. But maybe he was fired not on June 15, 1968, after the June 14 doubleheader, but rather on June 14, before the doubleheader (or even in the middle of it, since they lost the first game and won the second). That would adjust his win total down by one game.
Or, maybe this is an example of lazy journalism. One reporter mistakenly writes that Mauch won 645 games. From there, every media outlet picks it up, without anyone double checking. This is certainly possible as well. Though, it would be odd for the team no
When it comes down to it, this is a pretty academic point. Barring something completely unforeseen happening, Manuel will return to manage the team next year and will certainly win one more game, indisputably making him the winningest manager in Phillies history.
But, until then, does he have the record or has he merely tied it? To the best of my research capabilities, and against what every media outlet is reporting, it sure seems like he has just tied it.
Any further research or exploration of this topic is more than welcome in the comments section. If you can figure this one out, please enlighten us!