Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now

Joe Cronin: Player-Manager

Posted on October 01, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Joe Cronin

Joe Cronin

In recognition of the start of the baseball playoffs, we recognize as the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month a man who managed pennant winning teams in Washington and Boston and spent more than decade as a player-manager.

When the Boston Red Sox acquired Joe Cronin following the 1934 season they didn’t just get an All-Star player, they also got a new manager.

Originally signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Joe Cronin joined the Washington Senators in 1928 and by 1930 was one of the top shortstops in the game.

During his breakout 1930 season, Cronin hit .346 with 127 runs scored, 203 hits, 41 doubles, 13 home runs and 126 RBI. He won the AL Writer’s MVP Award and the Sporting News MVP Award.

Between 1930 and 1934, he drove in over 100 runs every season and hit better than .300 four times.

In 1933, at the age of 26, Cronin was named player-manager of the Senators and led the team to 99 wins and the AL Pennant. During that season he finished second in the MVP voting as he hit .309 with 45 doubles and 118 RBI.

The Senators struggled the following season and Cronin was traded to Boston.

Cronin earned five All-Star appearances during his 11 seasons as player-manager of the Red Sox, but stopped playing full-time following the 1941 season and retired as a player in 1945.

During his tenure with the Red Sox, Cronin hit .300 with 645 runs scored, 270 doubles, 119 home runs and 737 RBI. He drove in more than 100 runs three times for the Sox and hit above .300 in four of his seven seasons as a regular in Boston.

In 20 seasons as a player, Cronin hit .301 with 2,285 hits, 515 doubles, 170 home runs and 1,424 RBI.

The Red Sox posted a winning record in nine of his 13 seasons as manager. In 1946 he led the Sox to a 104-50 record and their first World Series since 1918. Boston lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.

Following the 1947 season, he moved to the front office to become general manager.

In January 1959 he left the Red Sox after being the first former player selected to serve as the President of the American League. He served in that capacity until the end of 1973.

Cronin was selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1956. The Red Sox retired his number four jersey in 1984.

He passed away in 1984 at the age of 77.

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