Question of the Day: Is there an age limit for hiring a baseball manager?
Writers from around Tribune Co. discuss Jack McKeon's hiring by the Florida Marlins. Check back throughout the day for more responses and weigh in with a comment of your own.
Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times
No one would think of banning someone from managing simply because they were too young. So why stop someone from doing the job because they’ve passed an arbitrary number on the other end?
Jack McKeon, just rehired by the Marlins at 80, led Florida to a World Series title at 72 and took the Cincinnati Reds to a one-game playoff to decide the NL Central title when he was 68. Casey Stengel won a pennant with the Yankees at 69, the same age as Bobby Cox when his Braves made the playoffs as a wild-card team. No one thought they were too old.
Baseball’s six-month schedule, which includes 162 games in 181 days and tens of thousands of miles of travel, certainly is a test -- for young and old alike. But if potential managers are up for it, why not let their ability and performance judge whether they can do it, not their age?
McKeon didn’t get a four-year contract when the Marlins hired him to be their interim manager, so why not do what they’re doing?
McKeon is clearly a bridge guy to Ozzie Guillen, Bobby Valentine or someone else with marketing appeal, and his love of life and passion for baseball will help make the rest of 2011 as enjoyable as possible for South Florida fans and others around the team. Hiring him as a 73-year-old seemed crazy, and he helped the Marlins win a championship. Hiring him at 80 to be a bridge to their future in a glittering new stadium is much less of a challenge.
Besides, everyone digs an octogenarian with juice. Wouldn’t it be great to see Sun Life Stadium's parking lot full of buses from senior residential homes? Like crying, there should be no age limit in baseball.
Peter Schmuck, Baltimore Sun
Finally, a question for the ages. The notion that there is a specific number of years that would preclude a qualified candidate from doing any job goes against everything I believe in -- except when I'm flying on an airplane. I'm not going to feel too comfortable with an 80-year-old pilot when it comes time to unstick the landing gear, but there aren't going to be a lot of lives hanging in the balance when McKeon needs to slip back to the clubhouse for a can of Ensure.
Managing a baseball team is largely a human resources job, and there are plenty of times in a season when all that experience is going to come in handy. I just think that if McKeon is going to channel the late Connie Mack down in Florida, he ought to dress like him.
Photo: Florida interim Manager Jack McKeon, center, goes over the ground rules with Angels Manager Mike Scioscia, right, and third base umpire Brian Gorman prior to the start of Monday's game. Credit: Robert Sullivan / EPA