These Tigers’ managers were ejected the most times

Top row: Ty Cobb, Charlie Dressen, Sparky Anderson, Alan Trammell. Middle row:

Top row: Ty Cobb, Charlie Dressen, Sparky Anderson, Alan Trammell. Middle row: Ralph Houk, Jim Leyland, Billy Martin. Bottom row: Buddy Bell, Phil Garner, Brad Ausmus, Fred Hutchinson.

When Major League Baseball first introduced instant replay for the 2008 season, it wasn’t apparent exactly how the change would impact the sport. At first replays were triggered by the umpiring crew. But eventually managers were given a number of “challenges” they could use during the game.

A consequence of the challenge/replay system has been a decrease in the number of on-field arguments between managers and umpires. While fans don’t go to a ballpark to see their manager debate with an umpire they’ve probably never heard of, the argument was a part of baseball history and it’s provided some memorable moments. Who doesn’t remember Earl Weaver flipping out at a bad call and engaging in a profanity-filled exchange with the men in blue? Well, they wear black now, but…

Thanks to the fantastic work of Retrosheet, which has gathered the play-by-play and box scores of nearly every game in history dating back to before Grover Cleveland was president, we have a list of every ejection for a player, manager, or coach. I decided to take a look at which Tigers’ managers have been ejected the most times.

Jim Leyland – 30 ejections

Smoky could be counted on for about three or four ejections a year in his eight seasons at the helm of the Detroit Tigers from 2006 to 2013. In all, in 22 years as a big league manager, Leyland was tossed 72 times, one of the ten highest figures in baseball history.

Of his 30 ejections in Detroit, they broke down this way: 2006 (2), 2007 (3), 2008 (4), 2009 (3), 2010 (4), 2011 (5), 2012 (5), and 2013 (4). He seemed to get a shorter fuse with umpires the longer he was in Detroit. Twice he was tossed five times in a season, tying a franchise record. He was being ejected so much in 2011 that in late August, general manager Dave Dombrowski asked his manager to do his best to avoid getting thumbed out down the stretch, which Leyland did.

Leyland was not ejected after either of the two worst calls during his Tiger tenure: the “safe” call at first that would have been the 27th and final out of Armando Galarraga’s perfect game in 2010, and the no-call on the pitch that did hit Brandon Inge in extra innings in Game #163 in 2008. Had Inge been correctly awarded first base the Tigers would have scored the go-ahead run in a game that decided the AL Central title.

One every 43.2 games

Sparky Anderson – 25 ejections

When you manage a long time, you’re bound to get tossed from a few games. Sparky, despite having a lot of “spark” (which led to his famous nickname) was not thumbed out of that many games, comparatively speaking. He was ejected from 48 games in his managerial career, which works out to fewer than two per season. So, about every three months you could expect to see Sparky hit the showers early.

As he got older, Sparky calmed down. He earned 36 ejections in his first 13 seasons as a manager, but in the last 12 years, all in Detroit, Anderson was thumbed only 12 times. Maybe his most famous came in a nationally televised Saturday game on May 12, 1984, in Anaheim against the Angels. The Tigers were on top of the world at the time with a 26-4 record, but they got their fifth loss that day and when a Detroit baserunner was called out for interference, Sparky went nuts on TV. He threw his hat, waved his arms, and stormed his way around the infield and even the outfield, while the California crowd roared.

Sparky went two full years without getting tossed, between 1987 and 1989, and didn’t get ejected at all in his last two years as manager.

One every 103.2 games

Hughie Jennings – 20 ejections

Of course, no footage exists of Ol’ Hughie kicking up dust and causing a ruckus with umpires, but in his 14 seasons at the helm of the Tigers he was tossed 20 times. His most argumentative season came in 1911 when he was thumbed out five times. Umpire Dick Nallin had it out for the Detroit skipper — he tossed Jennings twice in the same month in 1916 and again in 1918.

The most famous incident involving Jennings and the umpires came in Philadelphia on May 18, 1912, when his players refused to put on their uniforms for the afternoon game with the Athletics because Ty Cobb had been suspended due to a fight with a fan a few days earlier. Team owner Frank Navin secured sandlot and college players in Philly and sent them out as a replacement squad. Jennings even prepared to put himself into the contest, and maybe he should have. The “fake Tigers” were pounded 24-2. Prior to that game, the umpires and Philadelphia manager Connie Mack protested the use of the players, but it was an argument that ended quickly because Jennings had signed official contracts for each of the replacement Tigers.

A few months after the debacle in Philadelphia, the Tigers were playing the A’s again, this time in Detroit, when Jennings ran up against umpire Tommy Connolly, an Irishman with a short fuse. Cobb was at the plate with runners on base when he stroked a pitch to right field for a base hit. But Connolly ruled that Ty was out of the batters’ box and thus had struck the ball illegally, and therefore out. Jennings fumed and was ejected, but Cobb managed to remain in the game. The Detroit legend was ejected 15 times in his playing career, not counting his ejections as a manager (more on that later).

One every 106.4 games

Fred Hutchinson – 12 ejections

Hutch accumulated a whopping total of 39 ejections as a manager in only 13 seasons for the Tigers, Cardinals, and Reds. He got 12 of those in only three years as manager in Detroit, a fairly sizable figure. In his first two seasons, Hutch was player/manager for the Bengals, continuing to pitch a few games here and there, but he was primarily handling his duties as skipper. Hutchinson may have liked to shave a little time off on long days: six of his ejections occurred during doubleheaders. As you’d expect from a pitcher: Hutch was most frequently ejected for arguing balls and strikes. His rate of one ejection every 33 games is the top figure for a Tigers’ manager.

One every 33.0 games <— MOST FREQUENT

Alan Trammell – 12 ejections

With the teams he was saddled with while managing the Tigers, can you blame Tram for being ejected 12 times in only three seasons? Showing great restraint, Trammell was only ejected once in 2003 when the miserable team he was given lost 119 games. His rate of one ejection every 40.5 games ranks only behind Fred Hutchinson in franchise history.

As a player, Trammell once went 13 years without being thumbed from a game, and he was ejected only three times in 20 seasons. I guess managing was much more frustrating.

One every 40.5 games

Buddy Bell – 11 ejections

It always seemed like Bell was a little irked during his tenure as skipper in Detroit. Maybe it was the daunting task of following Sparky Anderson. Buddy only managed the Tigers for 461 games but he was ejected from 11 of them. His five ejections in 1996 tied a record for Detroit managers in one season, also held by Jennings.

One every 41.9 games

Ralph Houk – 11 ejections

You had to see Ralph Houk throw a tirade with umpires to really enjoy his passion as a manager. “The Major” not only earned an ejection 11 times while wearing the uniform of the Tigers from 1974-78, he was tossed 44 times in his managerial career. A few of his arguments while in Detroit were real doozies: he was famous for throwing his cap, his scorecard, and even uprooting a base if he needed to. His most theatrical performance came on June 5, 1977, in  a game against the Angels in Anaheim. In the sixth inning umpire Art Frantz called a balk on Detroit lefthander Jim Crawford. Houk barged from the visiting dugout and screamed at Frantz, earning the thumb. But Ralph figured he may as well get his money’s worth: he threw his gum,. threw his hat, and then stomped on his Detroit road cap before retreating to the clubhouse. Most of his players enjoyed the dramatic exit.

One every 73.3 games

Billy Martin – 10 ejections

Once when he was managing the Texas Rangers, Martin was ejected when he took the lineup card to home plate for the pregame. He was still ticked off about a call he thought went against his club the night before and had to vent his frustrations to his favorite targets: the umps. While in Detroit, the fiery Martin was thumbed ten times in a little less than three full seasons, from 1971-1973 (a rate that ranks sixth all-time among Detroit managers). In his career as a skipper, Martin was ejected a total of 47 times, earning an early exit with five different teams. Oh, Billy!

One every 45.2 games

Brad Ausmus – 8 ejections

When he was tossed from the game against the Yankees at Comerica Park on April 9th for arguing balls and strikes, it was already the eighth ejection for manager Brad in just over two seasons. In 2014 he was tossed three times and he earned four last season. At his pace of one ejection every 40 games, if Brad sticks around he could challenge Leyland’s franchise record of 25 dismissals.

One every 40.9 games (including one in 2016)

Phil Garner – 6 ejections

In a career that also saw him manage the Milwaukee Brewers and Houston Astros, Garner was thumbed out an impressive 44 times. His rate of one every 55 games in Detroit ranks 8th in franchise history. He was doing such a terrible job in Motown that Dave Dombrowski ejected him as manager only six games into the 2002 season.

One every 55.0 games

Ty Cobb – 5 ejections

Ty Cobb has a reputation as a hothead, which is somewhat misplaced. He had little patience for anything that distracted him from what was important to him – being the best. But he used his brains as much as his arms and legs on the diamond, and in order to have the edge on the competition he felt it was necessary to be focused and avoid losing his cool. He might glare, holler, or even snarl on the field, but he almost always was in control. A sort of controlled fury.

During his six seasons as player/manager of the Tigers from 1921 to 1926, Cobb was ejected a modest five times. He was tossed twice in his rookie season as a manager, but after that he rarely got himself removed from a game. Twice he was ejected on plays on the bases, once for a non-balk call, and twice arguing balls and strikes.

One every 186.6 games

Bucky Harris – 5 ejections

He made his reputation elsewhere (Washington and the Yankees), but the confident little Harris also managed parts of seven seasons in Detroit, with little success. He must have had a pretty good relationship with the men in blue, as he was only thumbed five times for Detroit and just 19 times in 4,410 games overall in the big leagues. That’s one ejection every 232 games.

One every 215.6 games 

Jack Tighe and Bob Scheffing – 3 ejections

In the ten years between 1957 and 1966 the Tigers had nine different managers. It was a time of controversy, turmoil, and sadness in the Detroit dugout: the team traded their manager for Cleveland’s manager, they lost not one but two managers to illness, both of them dying, one in mid-season, and they fired and rehired a few of the rotating managers. Tighe started the period by managing the team in 1957 and starting the ’58 campaign. He must not have been that happy because he was tossed from four games at a rate of one every 50.8.

Scheffing was at the helm from 1961 into 1963, a total of 384 games. he earned four ejections and had ten total in his managerial career, which included three seasons with the Cubs.

One every 50.8 games (Tighe)
One every 96.0 games (Scheffing)

Mayo Smith – 3 ejections

Some of Mayo’s players admitted that he took his share of naps in the dugout, so perhaps it’s not a surprise that the man who led the Tigers to the ’68 World Series title was only ejected four times while at the wheel in Detroit. Twice in the same week in June of 1968, Mayo was ejected when he argued close tag plays at home plate. He was ejected six more times during his tenure with the Phillies.

One every 217.0 games

Black Mike: Mickey Cochrane

Mickey Cochrane managed exactly 600 games for the Detroit Tigers and was never ejected from a game. Not once. How about that? It’s pretty amazing when you consider that Cochrane earned the nickname “Black Mike” during his playing career in Philadelphia because of his dark temper that could erupt. But Mickey was a calculating field leader in Detroit. It paid off, as the team won the pennant in his first two seasons with the Tigers, and in 1935 Mickey guided them to their first World Series title.

No ejections in five seasons and 600 games

Turncoat: George Moriarty

Few men have had the chance to be on both sides of the baseball argument: as a player/manager AND as an umpire. Moriarty is one of the few. He played for the Tigers from 1909 to 1915 under Jennings and as a teammate of Cobb. As a player, Moriarty was ejected only twice. He was well respected, which was why he easily transitioned into the job as an umpire when his playing career ended. Moriarty served as an umpire for a decade from 1917 to 1926 in the American League, and in that role he showed no favorites: he ejected Jennings and Cobb on September 17, 1919, in the second game of a doubleheader when the Tiger duo disagreed with his strike zone.

Ironically, in 1927 it was Moriarty who replaced Cobb as manager for the Tigers. He put away his ball/strike counter for two years while he led Detroit, and as you’d expect, he did not get ejected as a manager (the umpires were his pals after all!). Then, when he was fired as manager in 1929 he returned to his role as an umpire for twelve more seasons. He had one season in the National League, in 1935, and it was then that Moriarty had his most famous confrontation, during a very important game at Wrigley Field. It was Game Three of the World Series between the Cubs and Tigers, and in fifth inning Moriarty (who had been heckled a bit by both benches for some close calls during the contest) thumbed out Chicago manager Charlie Grimm, backup shortstop Woody English, and reserve outfielder Tuck Stainback for bench jockeying. Crew chief Moriarty had to charge toward the home dugout from his position as the umpire at second base to address the Cubs, who were heated over several plays that went against them. The Tigers won the game 6-5 in 11 innings.

No ejections in two seasons and 310 games

Weather Man: Steve O’Neill

O’Neill only earned three ejections in his six seasons as Tiger skipper, but one of them deserves mention. On opening day (April 15, 1947), O’Neill and the Tigers were at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis to kick off their season. In the fourth inning they had a 5-0 lead when rain started to fall from the Missouri sky. Home plate umpire Bill Grive waved the teams off the field and signaled for a rain delay. With only a slight rain falling and his team safely ahead by five runs, O’Neill was not happy. He argued the delay a little too much and was tossed. The game was later resumed and Hal Newhouser made the point moot: he shut out the Browns on four hits in a 7-0 victory. It’s pretty unusual for a manager to get tossed when a game isn’t even in action, but O’Neill managed to start the ’47 season that way.

One every 311.0 games

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