Jack McKeon became the second-oldest manager in Major League Baseball history, returning at age 80 to the Florida Marlins as they try to end a 10-game losing streak.
McKeon takes over the Marlins one day after Edwin Rodriguez resigned during a 1-18 June run in which the team fell to last place from second in the National League East. Connie Mack was the oldest manager in baseball history, running the Philadelphia Athletics at 87 in 1950.
McKeon led the Marlins to their second World Series championship, beating the New York Yankees in six games in 2003.
“This club can win,” McKeon said today in a news conference. “Now we’ve run into some tough times and we’ve just got to kick a little butt and get a little more aggressive.”
On June 1, the Marlins were 31-22, two games behind the Philadelphia Phillies for first place in the NL East. The team is now a division-worst 32-40, 12 1/2 games out of first, and its .053 June winning percentage is the second worst in any month in MLB history, according to ESPN. The Baltimore Orioles went 1-22 for a .043 winning percentage in April 1988.
“I’m very confident that there’s enough talent in that room to maybe get things right and play in October,” McKeon said.
McKeon managed the Marlins from 2003 to 2005, winning the NL Manager of the Year award in their World Series year, and will serve this time on an interim basis, Larry Beinfest, president of baseball operations for the Marlins, said at the news conference. The team will search for a permanent manager before moving to its new ballpark in 2012.
In 15 years as a major league manager with five teams, McKeon is 1,011-940 with one playoff appearance. McKeon, who was also named NL Manager of the Year in 1999 with the Cincinnati Reds, began his managerial career with the Kansas City Royals in 1973, at age 42.
McKeon said his age should have no bearing on his work with the team.
“Why should experience get penalized?” he said. “Eighty doesn’t mean a thing. I’m not 80. My birth certificate says that, but I’m not 80.”
The Marlins were 78-85 under Rodriguez, who assumed the job on June 23 last year following the firing of Fredi Gonzalez.
Marlins bench coach Brandon Hyde managed in the team’s 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays yesterday. Florida hosts the Los Angeles Angels tonight in Miami Gardens in the first of a three- game series.
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