Ben Olsen joins elite group of D.C. player/coaches

November 9, 2012

Among the many other things Ben Olsen accomplished by helping drag D.C. United to a playoff series win in just his second full season as head coach was this: he joined a tiny fraternity of men who won playoff series with D.C. pro sports teams as both players and coaches.

Excluding minor teams I’ve never heard of, I believe the aforementioned club now has just three members. Olsen, who won bunches of playoff rounds as a player for United, and is now unbeaten in the playoffs as a coach. Dale Hunter, who I believe was on the Caps through eight playoff series victories, and who led the Caps to one series win and one series loss during the 2012 playoffs. And Bucky Harris, who directed the Senators to the 1924 World Series title as a 27-year old player manager, at once the second baseman and MLB’s youngest manager.

As far as I can tell, that’s the list. I believe Buddy Jeannette won playoff series as both a player and coach for the Baltimore Bullets, but as a player it wasn’t in the NBA, and Baltimore isn’t D.C. anyhow. 

Wes Unseld, of course, won many series as a player with the Bullets, but none as a coach. Terry Murry did well as a coach for the Caps, but his single season as a player ended short of the playoffs. Only five men have won playoff games as head coach of the Redskins, and none did so as a player.

So for more than 80 years, Bucky Harris was by himself. And within the past seven months, Hunter and Olsen joined him.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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Sarah Kogod · November 9, 2012