Bill McKechnie Baseball Stats and Facts by The Baseball Page
Player, manager and coach Bill McKechnie was the first man to guide two different teams to World Series titles, the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1925 and the Cincinnati Reds in 1940. He also has the distinction of being one of only two managers whose teams won three league pennants, having guided the 1928 St. Louis Cardinals to the league crown as well. Bill helmed a total of four teams that won National League pennants, in 1925, 1928, 1939 and 1940.
Known as the “Deacon,” McKechnie was a rare type in professional baseball circles, a religious, clean-living individual who sang in his church choir and reputedly never drank, smoked or swore.
Born William Boyd McKechnie in 1886 in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, he began his major league career in 1907 as an infielder with the Pittsburgh Pirates, first as a utility player and then as an everyday third baseman. McKechnie played for the Bucs in three different decades—1907, 1910–1912, 1918, 1920. He also played for the Boston Braves and New York Yankees in 1913, and the New York Giants and Cincinnati Reds 1916-17.
In a career of 11 seasons from 1907-1920, the first, second and third baseman had 8 homers, 240 RBIs and a .251 batting average. Bill enjoyed his best offensive season in 1914 while playing for the Indianapolis Hoosiers, when he scored 107 runs, batted .304 and swiped 47 bases.
While posting unremarkable career numbers as a player, McKechnie was once traded along with Edd Roush and the great Christy Mathewson on July 20, 1916, when they went from the New York Giants to the Cincinnati Reds for Buck Herzog and Red Killefer.
His playing years behind him, Bill McKechnie later become known more for his feats as coach and manager. According to Johnny Vander Meer, McKechnie “… knew how to hold on to a one or two-run lead better than any other manager.”
He began his managerial career as a player/manager in 1915, guiding the Newark Pepper for 102 games and a record of 54-45. After retiring as a player in 1920, he took over the reins of his original team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, in 1922. From 1922 to 1926 Bill’s Bucs went 409-293, including a record of 95-58 in 1925. The Pirates won the World Series that year behind future Hall of Famers Max Carey, Kiki Cuyler and Pie Traynor, beating the defending-champion Washington Senators in seven games.
Three years later, behind first baseman Jim Bottomley’s massive MVP stats of 31 homers, 136 RBIs, and a .325 batting average, skipper McKechnie steered the 1928 St. Louis Cardinals to the National League pennant with a nearly identical 95-59 record.
In 1930-37 Bill helmed the Boston Braves through some hard-luck years when his teams went 560-666, including a disastrous 38-115 record in 1935 when Babe Ruth’s presence made it nearly impossible for McKechnie to enforce rules of team discipline. Rather than being in his prime years of production then, slugger Ruth was in full prima donna mode, drawing a huge salary and living separately from the other players.
From 1938-1946 McKechnie resumed his winning ways, leading Cincinnati to consecutive N.L. pennants in 1939 (97-57) and 1940 (100-53), when the Reds finished 12 games ahead of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
After losing the World Series to the three-time defending champion New York Yankees in 1939, the Redlegs won the 1940 World Series in seven games over the Detroit Tigers. The Reds Game 2 victory snapped a ten-game Series losing streak for the National League. The Series will always be remembered for a heartbreaking Game Seven performance by Tigers pitcher Bobo Newsom, whose father died in a Cincinnati hotel room one day after watching his son pitch a shutout in Game One. While Newsom pitched well enough to win the final game in the series, McKechnie’s Reds scored two runs off Newsom in the seventh inning and went on to win the Series finale 2-1.
One famous anecdote suggests that Bill McKechnie was better at giving directions on the ballfield than following them off the field. The story goes that McKechnie flew into an airport anticipating a series between his Reds and the Pirates at Forbes Field. He flagged down a taxi and asked the cabbie to take him to the Schenley Hotel.
“Never heard of it,” the cab driver replied.
"How long have you been driving a cab here?” the manager asked.
"Twenty-five years and then some," said the driver, "but I’ve never heard of the Schenley Hotel. You must be in the wrong town! Where do you think you are?"
"Pittsburgh," McKechnie answered.
“Pittsburgh, hell!” said the cabbie. "You're really lost. This is Detroit.”
Despite the eight tough seasons with the Boston Braves, Bill McKechnie stepped down in 1946 with a mark of 1,892 career victories, placing him fourth in major league history and second all-time in the National League behind John McGraw. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1962, three years before he passed away in Bradenton, Florida at the age of 79.
Today, the Pittsburgh Pirates play their Bradenton spring training games at McKechnie Field, a fitting tribute to the superb manager and former resident who left his managerial mark on National League history.
- 1925 World Series, 1940 World Series, Baseball History, Bill McKechnie, Deacon, Hall of Fame, Manager