Bauer out of the picture after framing '66 champs

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

June 01, 1995|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Sun Staff Writer

He was a tough ex-Marine from World War II who would point to the scars on his thigh where the flak went in and then out. He had, a writer with a gift for description once said, a face like a clenched fist. His voice was like gravel, from cigarettes.

Hank Bauer was hired by Orioles general manager Lee MacPhail because he had been with an organization that knew how to win -- the New York Yankees. He came in 1963 as a coach under manager Billy Hitchcock, but Hitchcock was dismissed after the season and, after a lengthy search, Bauer took over.

"I don't care if I was No. 1 on Lee's list, or second or 20th," Bauer said at the news conference announcing his appointment. "I've got the job."

He held it for 4 1/2 seasons, long enough to direct the Orioles to their first World Series, the four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1966.

"People didn't give us a chance," Bauer said. "But we won all four games, three by shutout. It was quite an accomplishment."

Now less than two months from his 73rd birthday, Bauer is living in retirement in Overland Park, Kan.

"I play charity golf tournaments and do some autograph shows, but they're dying out now because all they want are Hall of Famers," Bauer said. "Mostly I sit around the house and watch TV. I'm going on 73, you know."

Bauer owned a liquor store in Prairie Village, Kan., for 11 years but sold it 18 years ago. He began what he thought would be his retirement when Yankees official Bobby Hoffman, who was on Bauer's coaching staff in Oakland, asked him during an old-timers' game at Yankee Stadium what he was doing.

"I said I was hunting and fishing and he asked if I wanted to get back into baseball," Bauer said. "I said not really, although there was one job that would interest me. I told him I'd scout the American League teams if I could do it by watching all the games here. I didn't want to do any more traveling."

Within a few weeks Bauer was back on the Yankees' payroll, scouting the AL from Royals Stadium, a 30-minute drive from his house. Five or six years ago, he gave up the job.

Bauer began his baseball career in 1941. After winning two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star Medal in the South Pacific

during World War II, he played in the big leagues from 1948 to 1961, the first 12 years with the Yankees, and managed from 1961 to 1969.

When he came to the Orioles, Bauer reveled in telling how he had quit his previous job, as manager of the Kansas City Athletics, sensing that he was about to be fired by owner Charlie Finley.

"I beat him to the punch," Bauer said, chortling.

He didn't beat the Orioles to the punch. Things were turning sour after the 1966 championship season and midway through the 1968 season he was fired and replaced by his first base coach, Earl Weaver.

Next week: The man whose pitches fluttered so much that manager Paul Richards bought an oversize mitt for his catchers.

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