Ralph Houk, the former Yankee manager who succeeded Casey Stengel and won two World Series with the Bombers in the early 1960s, passed away today at the age of 90 in his home in Winter Haven, Florida. Houk, signed by the Yankees in 1939, spent parts of eight seasons as Yogi Berra’s back-up during the late 1940s and early 1950s, but he made his mark as leader of a 1960s powerhouse. He served as the manager for the 1961 and 1962 World Series winners and the 1963 AL champions before moving up to the General Manager spot in 1964. During the 1966 season, Houk returned to the bench and served as manager throughout CBS’ seven-season reign as Yankee owners. Houk resigned after piloting the George Steinbrenner-owned 1973 Yankees to an 80-82 finish and went on to pilot the Tigers and the Red Sox.
For his career as Yankee skipper, Houk was 944-806, and he was much beloved by the players. In his obituary of Houk, Richard Goldstein paints a picture of a man who loved baseball and couldn’t leave the game. Today, he is sometimes a footnote to the great Yankee Era and the symbol of the years of mediocrity under CBS. Still, he left his mark on the club, and only four managers in team history won more games.