Bob Lemon today was named manager of the New York Yankees for the second time in the last three years, replacing Gene Michael, who was fired by owner George Steinbrenner. Lemon becomes the club's sixth manager in four seaons.
Since Steinbrenner became principal owner of the Yankees in 1973, the club has had eight managers -- with Billy Martin and Lemon each filling the role twice.
A brief statement from Steinbrenner said he regretted having to dismiss Michael but that the two "have been unable to resolve certain differences." On Aug. 28, Michael said he was unhappy with Steinbrenner's constant phone calls and suggestions on how to manage, adding that the owner should fire him immediately if he was unhappy.
"Now Lemon might win the interim managr of the year award," said Martin upon hearing the news. The Yankees won their first game under Lemon, beating the Royals, 6-1.
"I guess when George decided to fire Michael, he had to choose between Lemon, (Dick) Howser and me 'cause he's still paying all of us," said Martin, apparently referring to the long-term contracts each signed with the Yankees. "If he'd hired a new guy, that means he'd have been paying five different maners at the same time."
Said Lemon: "I've never been accused of being very bright. He's (Steinbrenner) been awfully good to me. The last time he replaced met it was probably for my own good."
Ralph Houk was the Yankees' manager when Steinbrenner took over and he served the final year of his seven-year term before being replaced by Bill Virdon. The Yankees finished two games out of first place in 1974, but Virdon was replaced by Billy Martin in August, 1975.
The pressure of managing the Yankees under Steinbrenner's watchful eye kept building on Martin until finally, after nearly three full years, he couldn't take it any more.
While the Yankees were here for a July, 1978, road trip, Martin said Steinbrenner and Reggie Jackson said STeinbrenner and Reggie Jackson deserved each other. "One's a born liar and the other's convicted," Martin was quoted as saying, a reference to Steinbrenner's involvement in illegal contributions to Richard Nixon's campaign fund.
On July 24, 1978, Martin wept openly as he announced his resignation under pressure. Five days later, the Yankees stunned an Old Timers' Day crowd by announcing Martin would rejoin the Yankees as manager for the 1980 season.
By 1980, Martin had come and gone and was managing in Oakland.
Martin replaced Lemon in June, 1979, while the team was in the a slump, with Steinbrenner saying he was hopeful Martin "will be able to turn the ball club around." The Yankees finished fourth, however, and after an off-season brawl with a marshmallow salesman, Martin was fired and replaced by Howser.
Howser lasted one year, guiding the Yankees to the American League East title followed by a three-games-to-none loss to Kansas City in the league playoffs.
On Nov. 21, 1980, Howser resigned as manager of the Yankees, ostensibly because of business opportunities in his hometown of Tallahassee, Fla. But less than a year later he took over as manager in Kansas City after Jim Frey was fired on aug. 30.
Michael was Steinbrenner's hand-picked organization man, having served as a coach, minor-league manager, administrative assistant and general manager before becoming manager on Nov. 21, 1980. But he didn't last the season.