Dr. Rick Goodman has a conversation with World Series Championship Manager Jack McKeon of the Florida Marlins on what it takes to be a champion on and off the field. This was one of my favorite interviews and Jack McKeon shares his knowledge of what it truly takes to be successful on and off the field.
This interview took place in 2017 and rings true today. I am so happy that I am able to share this with you today!
Jack McKeon was a catcher in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, beginning in 1949. He debuted with the Greenville Pirates, hitting .251 with 49 RBI. In 1950, McKeon hit .333 in a brief sample with the York White Roses but spent almost all of the year with the Gloversville-Johnstown Glovers, earning $225 per month. He only hit .215/~.284/.239 in 72 games. He was hit in the head by one pitch and needed stitches and also badly injured his knee at second base. McKeon almost lost his life that year. After his knee injury, he was ordered home to recuperate and missed the Friday train the team wanted him to take. The train arrived two minutes before an explosion claimed 33 lives.
In 1951, Jack was in the military and was player-manager for the Sampson Air Force Base team, which won the Air Force championship. The next year, he returned to pro baseball and batted .218/~.352/.285 for the Hutchinson Elks and showed improved walk ability and defense (.987 fielding) from his 1950 season.
In 1953, with the Burlington-Graham Pirates, he caught 139 of the team’s 140 games, but hit only .181. The next year, he hit just .133 for Burlington-Graham and .207 with Hutchinson.
In 1955, McKeon managed the Fayetteville Highlanders for two months between Aaron Robinson and Jack Sanford. He was only 24 and hit .169 as a part-time player. He managed in the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twinschain from 1956 to 1964. He continued to play throughout the 1950s. He hit .170 with the Missoula Timberjacks in 1956, .217/~.357/.281 in 1957 and .263 with a career-high 8 homers and 51 RBI in 1958, his best offensive season. He hit .100 for the 1959 Fox Cities Foxes. From 1965 to 1967, he scouted for the Twins organization for three years. In 1968 he was the manager of the co-op High Point-Thomasville Hi-Toms.
He managed the Omaha Royals for four years, before taking over the Kansas City Royals. He piloted the Richmond Braves in 1976. McKeon began 1977 as the Oakland A’s manager, but was replaced by Bobby Winkles in June, then replaced Winkles in May of 1978.
He was the skipper of the Denver Bears in 1979, then scouted for the San Diego Padres in 1980. Nicknamed “Trader Jack” from his days as the Padres General Manager from 1981 to 1988, he then managed the team from May 1988 to July 1990.
McKeon managed the Cincinnati Reds from mid-1997 to 2000, then took over the Florida Marlins in 2003. He became the oldest manager (72) to win a World Series when his Marlins won the championship in 2003. He resigned as the club’s manager after the 2005 season.
His name came up as a potential replacement as soon as Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez announced his resignation on June 19, 2011 with the team in a 1-17 tailspin. At 80, McKeon became the second-oldest manager in in major league history, after Connie Mack, who was 88 when he managed his last game. He was expected to finish out the season, with a new manager to take over in 2012 when the Marlins moved to a new ballpark. “I’ll probably manage until I’m 95,” he quipped after his return to the dugout, His first move was to bench star SS Hanley Ramirez, who had infuriated previous managers with his sometimes lackadaisical play, because “(I) didn’t like the way he was running yesterday.” The Marlins were losers in his first game, 2-1 to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on June 20th for their franchise-record 11th straight loss, and their 19th in their last 20 games. He won for the first time the next night, 5-2 over the Angels as Ramirez was back in the line-up. As expected, on September 26th, he announced he would not be returning the following season; his announcement preceded by a few hours the appointment of Ozzie Guillen as manager of the renamed Miami Marlins for the following year.
In 17 years as a minor league manager his teams were a collective 1,105-1,177, while his major league teams have gone 1,011-940.
His brother, Bill McKeon, was a minor league catcher in the Milwaukee Braves system, and his son, Kasey McKeon, is a former minor league player and served as an executive with the Colorado Rockies and the Nationals. Another son, Kelly McKeon, was a scout. He is also the Father-In-Law of Greg Booker and grandfather of Zach Booker.