6Red Schoendienst -- St Louis Cardinals -- 1041-955 .522 (12 Seasons)
Here’s an example that loyalty can count for something. Schoendienst may have had stints with the New York Giants (1956-57) and Milwaukee Braves (1957-60), but returned to St Louis – the organization where he started in 1945 – to complete his career as a ballplayer (1961) and ultimately stay
on as a coach.
When Johnny Keane abruptly resigned after the Cardinals upset the New York Yankees in the 1964 World Series – ironically to take the reins for the Bronx Bombers – Schoendienst was in the right place at the right time. He bit the bullet through two down years and then directed St Louis to two straight World Series, in 1967 – where they beat the Red Sox in seven games – and 1968, the El Birdos season so decreed by Orlando Cepeda.
As a player, Schoendienst was proclaimed by Stan Musial as having “the best hands I’ve ever seen” and still holds the red-headed stepchild stat for his hitting the most doubles (8) during a three-game span in 1948.
As a manager, Schoendienst kept an even keel and was known as an excellent teacher of the game. And as both, he was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989. In all, Schoendienst wore a major league uniform for an incredible 69 seasons.
8. Tom Kelly -- Minnesota Twins -- 1140-1244 .478 (16 Seasons)
Two interesting items highlighted Kelly’s time with the Twins. He oversaw their transcendence from worst to first in 1991, guiding Minnesota from their AL Central cellar finish the season before to a triumphant trip to the World Series. In so doing, the Twins repeated their formula for success in the 1987 Series by going a perfect 4-0 at home after 0-3 performances on the road.
However, Kelly’s success against St Louis and Atlanta, respectively, was due to more than the din of Minneapolis’ so-called Homerdome. His judicious use of the bench and bullpen kept him in games, and his against-the-book intuition, such as allowing ace Jack Morris to go the distance in the 10-inning, 1-0 intense-fest that was Game 7 in ’91, proved to be a vital component in securing the Series.
Other than that, as Kelly’s record indicates, his low-key ability to keep an even keel was probably his strongest asset. He played the cards he was dealt, and given the stingy ownership of banker Carl Pohlad, very few of them displayed royalty. In 1998, for example, with stars such as Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, and Morris long gone, the Twins expunged their roster of every player but one with a salary over $1,000,000; then-ace Brad Radke was the lone survivor.
Stunts like that were hard to overcome. At least, upper management understood, and Kelly persevered through eight straight losing seasons. He finally had enough of a roster to manipulate by 2001, and took the Twins to the division crown for three consecutive years.
Kelly is one of only two in this group with a losing record. However, he made his team’s strong seasons count.