- C, 1B, OF
- Gentleman George
- November 17, 1867
- 6' 1"
- 187 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 5-22-1890 with BRO
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Stallings graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1886. He entered medical school, but was instead offered a contract by Harry Wright, manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. He was cut in spring training. Stallings was a mediocre player: he appeared in only seven major league games as a catcher, first baseman and outfielder with Brooklyn (1890) and the Phillies (1897–98) and had only two hits in 20 at-bats, hitting a weak .100. As a manager, he had a mixed major league resume prior to 1914: a poor record with the Phillies (1897–98), then mild successes in the American League with the Detroit Tigers (1901) and New York Highlanders (1909–10). In the minor leagues, he managed the 1895 Nashville Seraphs to win the Southern League pennant; he also played an infield position on the team. He also managed Detroit before it became a major league team in part of 1896 and from the end of 1898 through its becoming a charter member of the American League.
Named manager of the last-place Braves after the 1912 season, Stallings raised Boston to fifth place in the NL in his first season, 1913, but the Braves were sunk at the bottom of the eight-team league and 11½ games from the frontrunning New York Giants on July 15, 1914 when they began their meteoric rise. With Stallings expertly handling a roster of light hitters (Boston hit only .251 as a team) and relying on pitchers Dick Rudolph and Bill James (who each won 26 games), the Braves won 52 of their final 66 contests to overtake the other seven National League teams and finish 10½ games in front of the second-place Giants. They then defeated the heavily favored Philadelphia Athletics in four straight games to earn the nickname "Miracle Braves."
Stallings is credited with being the first manager to use platooning to good effect. It was not strictly left/right hand platooning (there were then relatively few southpaw pitchers), but he did change his lineup significantly when the Braves played a team starting a left-handed pitcher. Bill James credits him with being the first major league manager to use platooning as a weapon, rather than to cover a hitter's weaknesses.
The 1914 championship was the only World Series title earned by the Braves during their tenure in Boston, which lasted through March 1953. It also was Stallings’ first and only big league championship. He managed the Braves through 1920, but posted no winning season after 1916. His career major league managing record was 879 wins, 898 losses (.495) over 13 years.
Stallings was responsible for bringing professional baseball back to the city of Montreal, Quebec. In 1928, his partnership with Montreal lawyer and politician Athanase David and businessman Ernest Savard resurrected the Montreal Royals as part of the International League. They built the modern new Delorimier Stadium in downtown Montreal as the home for the team that would be where Jackie Robinson would break the baseball color barrier in 1946.
Stallings was famous for his superstitions, and for his nervousness on the bench. He has been described as both "distinguished" and salty-tongued. He died in Haddock, Georgia at age 61 of heart disease. According to legend, when asked by his physician why he had a bad heart, Stallings replied, "Bases on balls, doc ... those damned bases on balls."
Teams George Stallings ManagedPhiladelphia Phillies (1897-1898)
Detroit Tigers (1901)
New York Yankees (1909-1910)
Boston Braves (1913-1920)
Best Season: 1914
On July 5, the Braves were 15 games behind the first-place Giants. They were in last place on July 19. Stallings rallied his team, consisting of mostly castoffs and unknowns, and ran down the Giants. The Braves went 68-19 to finish the season, running away with their first flag of the 20th century.
Stallings was broad-shouldered and had a thick chest. He had been a catcher. He had dark hair and eyes, and was usually sporting a tan. His teeth were so vibrantly white against his brown skin, that he used his smile as a sign for a hit-and-run. He loved nice clothes, and was very particular about his fittings, often taking hours being tailored. For much of his career as a manager, he did not wear a uniform, choosing instead to don a fine suit with a hat. Like Pat Riley, he paced the sidelines in his fashionable threads, his hair coiffed and shoes shined to perfection. He was extremely superstitious, almost to an obsession. He believed it was bad luck for scraps of paper to be left on the floor or ground, and opposing teams would assign a player to sprinkle confetti on the field before games. Fans would chuckle at the sight of Stallings skipping across the field to retrieve the scraps of paper. When his team was on a winning streak, Stallings would wear the same clothes, take the same route o the ballpark, and eat the same foods for days at a time. He was a man of routines. It's possible that he was obsessive/compulsive. In the dugout, once his team rallied, he believed it was bad luck to move. Once, he bent over to tie his shoes just as the Braves started a six-run inning. He stayed stooped over so long that his players had to help him back to a standing position. Another time, he faced the outfield for 15 minutes during a rally, rather than watch his team at the plate, because he had been looking out there when the inning started. Despite his quirks, his teams were fiercely loyal. Hank Gowdy called him a genius, and Johnny Evers considered him the best manager he played under. Stallings rode his teams hard, kept a good distance from them, and demanded that they be prepared. He was a master handler of pitchers, and helped several mediocre hurlers have their finest seasons.
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