Flashback Friday: McKeon named Foxes Manager (1958)

The Fox Cities was an early stop in the career of future MLB Manager Jack McKeon

A photo of Jack McKeon during an appearance in Appleton before the start of the 1958 season. (Post-Crescent Photo)

By Chris Mehring / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | October 10, 2013 9:24 PM ET

Earl Weaver wasn't the only future major league manager to make a stop at Goodland Field as the head man of the Fox Cities Foxes during the Three-I League days of the franchise.

This week's Flashback Friday is an article from The Post-Crescent of November 18, 1958 for the naming of Jack McKeon as the manager of the Foxes for 1959, the second season of Foxes baseball.

Jack McKeon Will Pilot Foxes During 1959 Season
1958 'Manager of Year' in Pioneer League Selected by Senators to Replace Suder

John "Jack" McKeon, the 158 "manager of the year" in the Class C Pioneer league, will manage the 1959 Fox Cities Foxes of the Class B Three-I league.

Sherry Robertson, farm director of the Washington Senators - the Fox Cities' parent club - announced today that McKeon will succeed Pete Suder. Washington has assigned Suder to scouting duties in the Pennsylvania area.

The 27-year-old McKeon (he'll be 28 Sunday) has been nicknamed "The Little Bulldog" because of his aggressiveness. He managed the Senator's class C club at Missoula, Mont. three seasons.

His 1956 club finished seventh with a 61-71 record. In 1957 his team finished sixth in the first half of the season and third in the second half - an improvement that brought him in a close second to Eddie Lyons in the "manager of the year" balloting.

The 1958 Missoula Timberjacks finished fourth in a 7-team league in the first half and third in the second half. He won the "manager of the year" citation as his club was in pennant contention the entire second round, finishing 4-1/2 games out of first and three out of second. A slump in the final two weeks cost the team an even higher finish.

McKeon is a catcher by trade, but it's uncertain whether he'll be a playing manager here next summer. A good defensive catcher and sharp handler of pitchers, McKeon never has been too potent a hitter.

Catches 139 games

The 5-foot-9, 175 pound McKeon began his pro career with Hutchinson, Kans., in 1952. In 1953 and 1954 he played with Burlington, N.C., of the Class B Carolina League. During 1953, he caught every game but one in the 140-tilt schedule.

In 1955, McKeon began his managerial career on a limited scale. He led Fayetteville (Carolina League) as a playing manager from July 11 to August 6 when he was forced out by an injury.

McKeon was born in South Amboy, N.J., and attended high school there - making his mark as an all-round athlete. He attended Seton Hall university and transferred to Elon college, near Burlington, N.C., where he obtained an A.B. degree in physical education.

McKeon, who is married, served 18 months in the air force. In 1951, he managed the Sampson Air base to an air force baseball championship.

During the off-season, the Foxes' manager-to-be teaches school in Burlington and officiates college basketball.


McKeon's Baseball-Reference Bullpen page is here.

The 1959 Foxes, in their second and final season as an affiliate of the Senators, finished 59-67 and in fourth place.

Notable players on that Foxes team included: Carlos Pascual, Lee Stange, and Zoilo Versalles.

The Baseball Reference page for the '59 Foxes does note that McKeon appeared in eleven games and went 2-for-20 with two singles. Those eleven games were the final games that McKeon played in professional baseball. But, he went on to a long managerial career.

McKeon became a major league manager for the 1973 season as the skipper of the Kansas City Royals. He would manage the following teams:

Kansas City: 1973-1975
Oakland: 1977 (43 games) & 1978 (123 games)
San Diego: 1988-1990
Cincinnati: 1997-2000
Florida: 2003-2005; 2011 (90 games)

McKeon managed the first 43 games of the 1977 seasion in Oakland and was replaced by Bobby Winkles. McKeon took over for Winkles 39 games into the 1978 season.

McKeon also spent time as the General Manager of the Padred from 1980-1990. Notable moves would have been selecting Tony Gwynn in the 3rd round of the 1981 draft and sending Ozzy Smith to the St. Louis Cardinals on December 10, 1981.

He is best known for taking over as the manager of the Marlins in 2003 and going on to lead them to their second World Series Championship after rallying that team from a 3-1 deficit in the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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