Next to wrestling alligators and pinching strange blondes, the occupation offering the minimum of security is coaching a college football team. The one guaranteeing the maximum is managing a big league baseball team.
Big league managers are the career men of the baseball bureaucracy, members of the most exclusive gentlemen's sporting club in the world. It is as difficult to crash this tight little coterie as to scale San Quentin's wall, though social requirements for admission are not necessarily more demanding.
Old managers seldom die and never fade away; they just keep changing places eternally in an unending game of musical chairs. Under the rules of the game, somebody is always left standing, for there are more players than seats. The standees aren't eliminated, though. Next time the piano strikes up, they pounce.
Since the 1953 season ended, Birdie Tebbetts has squatted in Rogers Horns-by's place in Cincinnati, Walter Alston in Charley Dressen's in Brooklyn, Eddie Joost in Jimmy Dykes' in Philadelphia, Dykes in Marty Marion's in Baltimore, Stan Hack in Phil Cavarretta's in Chicago, Terry Moore in Steve O'Neill's in Philadelphia, Paul Richards in Dykes' in Baltimore, and Marion in Richards' in Chicago.
Last week Bucky Harris left his seat in Washington, Terry Moore was shifting uneasily on his, and the financial props gave way under Eddie Joost.
And here comes Charley Dressen again.
In 30 seasons as a manager, Bucky Harris has directed, in order, the Senators, Tigers, Red Sox, Senators, Phillies, Buffalo, the Yankees, San Diego and the Senators. His team never has finished last. When he had the poorest players in the league, he induced them to outhustle somebody else.
THE BEST TEAM LOST
Baseball writers admire many qualities in Harris, above all his candor. Some had a sample of this as early as 1925. His Washington club, having won the World Championship of 1924 in Harris' first season as manager, had lost the next World Series to the Pirates. Anticipating a stock answer, newspapermen asked a stock question:
"Well, Bucky, do you want to say the best team won?"