Sunday, September 10, 2006

Devil Rays fire John Tamargo

photo of Mays Field from McCovey Cove by franciscophile

I don't really feel like saying anything about tonight's 10-2 loss except that the Matt Morris signing -- 3 years for $27 million -- continues to be troublesome. Instead, I saw this story about Durham Bulls manager John Tamargo getting fired by the Devil Rays after a season in which he was suspended for 10 games and one of his players (Delmon Young) was suspended for 50 games. It turns out that Tamargo, who played two seasons for the Giants, has been managing for 16 years in the minors, including the last nine with the Devil Rays organization, and has a pretty unmemorable 976-937 record.

Whatever his faults as a manager, however, John Tamargo holds a special place in my heart due to the opening day of the Giants 1979 season. There are very few games that I can remember specifically details about but this one remains crystal clear. My grandmother -- a true Giants fan -- had been hospitalized in the East Bay but I managed to convince my uncle that she would want us to attend opening day. So we did. Hopes were high off a solid 1978 season. Strangely enough, the MLB umps were on strike and I remember chatting with Ed Montague outside the stadium. We got decent seats and ran into Lon Simmons -- who was simply spectating -- for the only time in my life and had a very pleasant chat with him. Here was the lineup against the Padres, who had the ugliest unis in the MLB in those days --

1. Bill North CF
2. Terry Whitfield LF
3. Bill Madlock 2B
4. Jack Clark RF
5. Darrell Evans 3B
6. Mike Ivie 1B
7. Marc Hill C
8. Roger Metzger SS
9. Vida Blue P

The Padres scored early but the Giants tied it with two in the 6th. It was still tied in the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs when Joe Altobelli brought Stretch up to pinch hit to massive cheers. Stretch lined a single and Max Venable ran for him. Altobelli brought in Tamargo to pinch hit. I can still see Tamargo blasting a long high "no doubter" HR to right field, resulting in pandemonium at the sold-out Stick. I would have to guess it was the highlight of John's career, given that he hit only 4 HRs in 244 ABs over 5 MLB seasons. And when I visited my grandmother that night, she was completely delighted with our recap of the day.

Even though the year would wind up as a disappointment, it felt like anything was possible for the Giants that day.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a former player that played for John Tamargo in the 1990's in the minors. John Tamargo manages the game but doesnt do much instructing during practice. He only caters to the prospects in the organization on his team. Maybe three or four prospects per minor league team. So all the other players are on their own. I am not suprised he lost it on an umpire. Mr. Personality he is not. Instructing is basically non- existent. I am suprised he has been coaching this long in the minors and actually kept his job. He must do a great job of kissing up to the organizations upper management. I played for a lot of coaches in the minors and I would say he was the worst. I would love to put my name on this letter but I am currently a coach that hopes to move up through the ranks.

8:23 PM  

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