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Birth:
03 Nov 1911 1
Death:
Jan 1967 1
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Full Name:
John Keane 1
Birth:
03 Nov 1911 1
Death:
Jan 1967 1
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Social Security:
Social Security Number: ***-**-9903 1

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Stories

Obit

The New York Times, Saturday, January 7th, 1967

After losing the 1964 World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals, the Yankeesfired manager Yogi Berra and hired the manager who had beaten them in that World Series, Johnny Keane.



World Champions Again? 

Keane, like so many others, failed to realize that the key Yankees' players were mere shells of themselves. He never got to know them, and they never knew the real Johnny Keane.

It had been difficult for Yogi Berra to take over for Ralph Houk, and it now was difficult for Keane to take over for Yogi.

Keane was supposed to lead the Yankees back to the World Championship, but his new team's key players were past their peaks, and Johnny was blamed for their demise.

In 1965, the defending American League champion New York Yankees finished sixth.



The St. Louis Cardinals

Johnny Keane spent all but his last two years in baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals' organization. His career started in 1930, as a minor league shortstop.

In 1936, his skull was fractured by a bean ball. Johnny was in a coma for a week and remained hospitalized for another six weeks. He spent his entire playing career in the minors.

In 1959, Cardinals' front office head Frank Lane finally convinced Keane, who had managed in the minors with great success, to join the major league team as a coach under Solly Hemus. When Hemus was dismissed in 1961, Johnny Keane succeeded him.

The Cardinals finished sixth in Keane's first full season at the helm, and they were a contender the next.

When the Philadelphia Phillies collapsed in 1964, the Cardinals took advantage, won the pennant, and beat the Yankees.



Win and Quit 

In August, it appeared that the Cards were out of it. Their reaction was to fire general manager Bing Devine, a good friend of Keane's.

The rumor was that Leo Durocher was going to succeed Johnny at the end of the season.

After winning the World Series, Keane didn't demand a lucrative, long-term contract. He didn't gloat. He quit.



Blame 

At spring training in 1965, Keane's first reaction to his new team was "I never had so many good ball players."

Keane was blamed for the Yankees' worst showing in 40 years. When the Yankees started the 1966 season by losing 16 of their first 20 games, the Yankees fired Johnny Keane and replaced him with the players' choice, general manager Ralph Houk. 

The Yankees finished last in the 10-team American League, which vindicated Johnny Keane.

Mickey Mantle was quoted as saying that he was ashamed at the way he had let Johnny down. Most of the other Yankees expressed similar sentiments. 

When his Yankees' contract expired after the 1966 season, the California Angels hired Keane as a special scout. 

On Jan. 6, 1967, Johnny Keane died of a heart attack at his home in Houston. He was 55-years-old.

Johnny Keane was a quiet, reflective individual who appreciated the chance to manage in the major leagues. He understood how difficult it was to win.

After the 1964 World Series, he quietly told reporters, "I waited 35 years for this. That's a long time but it was worth it. I never dreamed a human being could be this happy."

A GOOD MAN, A GOOD MANAGER One of the more valid ways to judge the character of a baseball manager is to watch him while he makes his first visit to the pitcher's mound when things begin to go wrong. Some walk out turning their heads from side to side and mumbling like method actors; others go out slowly and then kick up the mound as if to ask, "How on earth can you do a thing like this to me?" Johnny Keane, who died last week at 55, had a special way of making his first visits. He would put his hands in his back pockets and come out of the dugout at a full trot, say exactly what he had to say and then trot off, as if embarrassed to interrupt the flow of a game. Keane was a good manager as well as a principled and sentimental man. When he let a tired Bob Gibson pitch through the seventh game of the 1964 World Series he was asked why he had left his man in so long. "Because," said John, "I had a commitment to his heart." Keane's frustrations with the 1966 Yankees were summed up with, "We're just going to have to tough this thing out," and when he was fired last May because the Yankee management panicked, Mickey Mantle said, "I'm sick because I let a man like Johnny Keane down." Only a few hours after winning the 1964 Series someone asked Keane if it marked the most thrilling moment in his life. "Oh, it's a great thrill," he said. "After 34 years in the game it gives you a feeling of tremendous satisfaction. But when my daughter Pat turned 18, my wife, Lela, and I bought her a car for Christmas that we could not afford. We had it brought to our house in Houston late, when she was asleep, and Lela and I stayed up all night stringing colored ribbons from her doorknob upstairs down through the house and out into the garage to the keys in the ignition. We wrote signs on the ribbons that said THIS WAY and KEEP GOING, and when she finally got to the car it was seeing the look in her eyes that was the proudest moment in my life."

Johnny Keane Bio

John Joseph Keane (November 3, 1911 — January 6, 1967) was an American manager in Major League Baseball. Keane participated in one of the strangest turns of events in baseball history in 1964, his final season at the helm of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Keane never played in the Major Leagues. He was a shortstop in the Cardinals' minor league system but suffered a head injury after being hit by a pitch. He began his managing career in 1938 in the Cardinals' organization, working his way from Class D (then the lowest rung on the ladder) to Triple-A, where he spent a decade as manager of top St. Louis farm clubs. His career win-loss record as a manager in the minor leagues was 1,357–1,166 (.538) over 17 seasons.

Keane finally reached the Major Leagues in 1959, when he was appointed to the Cardinal coaching staff. He replaced Solly Hemus as manager on July 6, 1961. In his 3½ seasons as Cardinal pilot, he compiled a record of 317–249 (.560) and his crucial, positive role in mentoring young Cardinal players, especially star pitcher Bob Gibson, is chronicled in the David Halberstam bookOctober 1964.

In August 1964, with Cardinals seemingly out of the race, team owner August "Gussie" Busch became convinced (possibly by Branch Rickey, whom he had hired as a consultant) that only a thorough housecleaning of Cardinal management would bring him the pennant he had craved since he bought the team in 1953. On August 17, he fired (or accepted the resignations of) almost every senior St. Louis front office executive. Keane was temporarily spared, but Busch was rumored to be secretly negotiating with Leo Durocher (then a coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers) to become manager at the close of the 1964 season.

However, in the last two weeks of the season, the front-running Philadelphia Phillies — who had seemed a lock for the pennant — unexpectedly began to unravel while both the Cardinals andCincinnati Reds got hot. The Phillies lost ten straight games, creating a four-team scramble for the National League pennant, involving the Phils, Cards, Reds and San Francisco Giants. Philadelphia came to St. Louis after losing seven straight at home and were swept by the Cardinals, who moved into first place. After losing the next two games to the lowly New York Mets, St. Louis won their final game to clinch their first NL pennant since 1946. The Cardinals then defeated the New York Yankees in a seven-game World Series.

Shortly after winning the World Series the Cardinals held a press conference. Most expected that the team would formally announce a contract extension for Keane. Instead, Keane handed owner Busch and new general manager Bob Howsam a surprise letter of resignation that he had written late in September, at the height of the pennant chase. The Cardinals then bypassed Durocher entirely and instead hired longtime fan favorite Red Schoendienst, a Baseball Hall of Fame second baseman and one of Keane's coaches, as the club's new manager.

Shortly after his resignation, Keane became the surprise new manager of the Yankees, who fired Yogi Berra after losing to the Cardinals in the World Series. It was later revealed that the Yankees had made an informal inquiry about Keane's interest in the job during the 1964 season.)[1] The Keane-Yankees pairing was not a good match. Coming off five straight American League pennants and 15 league championships in 18 years, the 1965 Yankees were on a downhill slide. Keane's first team finished in sixth place, their first losing season in 40 years. When the 1966 version won only four of their first 20 games, Keane was replaced by Ralph Houk, the team's charismatic general manager, who had coached for and managed the team from 1958 to 1963. The Yankees did not respond to Houk either, finishing in last place, the first time they did so since 1912. Keane's 81–101 (.445) record with New York gave him a career managerial mark of 398–350 (.532) over six seasons.

Keane is described in Jim Bouton's Ball Four as being prone to panic, and someone who was "willing to sacrifice a season to win a game" by putting injured stars into the lineup before their injuries had fully healed. Bouton tells a humorous anecdote of Keane pressuring Mickey Mantle to play on a bad leg. But in Keane's defense, Bouton also noted that general manager Houk and the team unfairly used Keane as the excuse for their losing records in 1965 and 1966, which were actually the result of an aging team with a depleted farm system.

In December 1966, Keane accepted a scouting post with the California Angels. He suffered a fatal heart attack one month later in Houston, Texas, at the age of 55. Keane had lived in Houston since his days as player and (later) manager for the Cardinals' longtime Texas League farm team, the Houston Buffaloes.[2]

In Bouton's book, I Managed Good, But Boy Did They Play Bad, a collection of essays and stories about past Major League managers, he wrote that Keane seemed to be in awe of the Yankees, and that he underestimated the problems the team faced. Bouton felt that the immense pressure and stress of managing the Yankees through their inevitable collapse likely led to his death.

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