Former Yankee manager Ralph Houk, 90, passes away


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.

Categories : Asides, News
  • CNight_UP

    RIP sir….

    Does mean Yogi is safe for now?

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      If your fears are about a third in the so-called Rule of Three, I like to believe that Yogi’s ok now. Yogi, in fact, was replaced by Houk after ownership fired Berra in the mid-1960s.

      • CNight_UP

        exactly what i was referring to Mr. Kabak.

      • Pat D

        You’ve got that a bit backwards. Yogi replaced Houk as manager in ’64 when Houk became GM. After they lost the World Series to the Cardinals, and sensing he had no control over the team, the front office fired Yogi and replaced him with Johnny Keane, who left the Cardinals due to their treatment of fired GM Bing Devine.

        Keane presided over the horrible ’65 season and the first 20 games (4-16) of ’66 before getting fired and replaced by Houk. I know most people would prefer to forget those years, and the words “Johnny Keane, Yankees Manager,” but that’s what happened.

        • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

          You’re right. I stand corrected. Yogi came aboard as manager to replace the promoted Houk.

          • Pat D

            I will admit that the Rule of Three thing had me a little freaked out, because Yogi was the first person I thought of being the third. Silliness, really.

            Sadly Houk will never get much credit as a manager despite the number of games, pennants and championships he won because everyone will just always say he won with the team that Stengel left behind and couldn’t do it anywhere else.

  • Rose

    I know the majority of the fans here are young but I’m hoping the lack of responses is due to the time of the post instead of something else.

    I was not born during the Ralph Houk days…but I have read quite a bit and most people cannot forget the movie 61* either where his first year managing was quite similar to Joe Girardi’s in a way. A very prestigious manager had just left and he filled in with a similar staff and made the best of it.

    Ironically, I had just checked up on Mr. Houk recently to see his status as I do from time to time.

    Any way you look at it. 90 years old and managing a World Champion Yankees team is a pretty good life by any means.

    Rest in Peace and I think I’m not the only one…when I say…thank you for your place in Yankee lore.

    • Bort

      Agreed 100 percent. While we may not have been alive for it, 27 may not be 27 w/o Mr. Houk. Rookie manager, Maris v. Mantle, 109 wins!?! Congrats, RIP.

      • Pat D

        Those 109 wins, while still a tremendous accomplishment, are tempered somewhat by the fact that it was an expansion year. The new Senators and the hapless Kansas City A’s both lost 100 games. The newly relocated Twins lost 90 and the new Angels team lost 91.

        The Tigers also won 101 games that year and the Orioles won 95. It was a year that was going to be skewed heavily at the top and the bottom just because of that.

    • The209

      “I know the majority of the fans here are young but I’m hoping the lack of responses is due to the time of the post instead of something else.”

      No, it’s something else… the vast majority of people here care way more about their alternate fantasty team than someone like a RH.

      2 WS…are you kidding? — Torre had 4 and he sucked, if you believe 2/3 of the commenters.

      • The209

        RIP Mr. Houk

      • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

        the vast majority of people here care way more about their alternate fantasty team than someone like a RH.

        Why are you being unnecessarily and wrongly nasty in a post about the death of a long-time Yankee manager? That’s just disrespectful.

        Truth is that most people born after Houk was through managing don’t really know much about him. He won on the strength of two teams assembled and guided by his predecessors and then helmed a club that was overwhelming for eight seasons before giving way to Steinbrenner and the Bronx Zoo. By all accounts, he was a player favorite who didn’t enjoy much managerial success after his first three seasons.

  • TheZack

    I think it has less to do with people being born AFTER Houk, and when after Houk they were born/became fans.

    How any Yankee fan can not know who Ralph Houk was and not mourn his loss in similar fashion to any other Yankee great is beyond me…

  • CS Yankee

    It’s amazing how many Catchers go on to become solid managers. While some may take away some luster of his rings due to the roster he recieved, I think that is flawed. He wouldn’t have been promoted to the GM if it wasn’t for the results he achieved and he did have to replace Yogi (great player-poor manager).

    The big thing is that CBS gave him little to nothing in support (they were bad for baseball) as corporate owners. He developed a young Munson (other than that didn’t have much more talent than Mel) while the team and their farms eroded away.

    I remember him as the Tigers manager mostly growing up. Godspeed Mr Ralph Houk.