Joe Cronin, 1933-1934
Record as Senator Manager: 165-139, .543
1933: 99-53 .651 1st AL Pennant
1934: 66-86 .434 7th
Owner Clark Griffith felt his club was on the cusp of the pennant and needed the right man to push his team over the top. There wasn’t really any doubt that Walter Johnson‘s successor would come from within the Senators organization. Sam Rice, Joe Judge and Griffith were the rumored candidates. But, much like how the Bucky Harris hiring shocked observers a decade before, Griffith once again threw a curve and named 24 year old star shortstop Joe Cronin manager of the Nats on October 8, 1932. A quick temper was the main reason the Silver Fox selected Cronin.
Going to work almost immediately, Cronin presented a list of players he wanted Griffith to acquire to counter the World Series winning Yankees pitching staff. Pitchers Earl Whitehill of Detroit, Cleveland’s Jack Russell and the Browns Lefty Stewart. Griffith would trade for all three of the pitchers, who all would prove to be instrumental for 1933. Not done dealing, Griffith soon reacquired Goose Goslin from his 2 year banishment in St. Louis, as well as OF Fred Schulte in the Goslin deal. In January, Griffith shored up the catching spot with the acquistion of Indians receiver Luke Sewell.
Cronin had the honor of managing the finest team in Senators history in 1933. Everything that could go right, went right for Cronin. By mid-August, the Nats had a strangle hold on first and coasted easily to the pennant. The 99 regular season wins is the highest in Washington professional baseball history dating to 1884. Going into the World Series against the Giants, the Senators were the sure favorites. A surprising 5 game loss to the Giants that featured overconfidence on the Nats part and questionable decisions by Cronin cast the first blemishes on Cronin. Regretting accepting the managerial post, Cronin offered Griffith his resignation after the Series. Griffith demurred and retained Cronin as the pilot.
The fallout from the World Series defeat would carry over into 1934. If everything went right for Cronin in 1933, everything that could go wrong went wrong in 1934. Injuries, age, bad pitching and unproductive years from key players such as Cronin precipitated the nosedive into 7th place. The bright spot of 1934 was the emergence of 20 year old Cecil Travis, who batted .319 with 53 RBI in just 109 games. Scribes had a field day second-guessing Cronin at every turn. Again, Cronin wanted to resign and Griffith rejected Cronin’s wish.
If not for Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey, Cronin would have been at the Nats helm in 1935. Yawkey, buying players to immediately contend, offered Griffith $225,000 and prospect Lyn Lary for Cronin. The “Old Fox”, having lost money and owing banks money, reluctantly accepted Yawkey’s proposition. Griffith’s acceptance of Yawkey’s offer was a franchise altering moment for the Senators.
Cronin would manage the Sox for 13 seasons, bringing Boston the AL pennant in 1946. After retiring from the dugout, Cronin would serve 10 seasons as the Red Sox GM before being selected as the American League president in January, 1959. The Hall of Famer would serve as AL president until 1973.
Thompson Orville (Mickey) Livingston B Nov. 15, 1914 D Apr. 3, 1983
Signed by the Washington Senators in 1937, catcher Mickey Livingston would make his first major league appearance with the Senators in mid-September of 1938. Playing in 2 games, Livingston would go 3 for 4 at the plate.
Spending time “down on the farm”, Livingston would be drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers in October of 1940 and traded a month later to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Livingston would return to the majors in 1941 with the Phillies, playing with them through August of 1943 when he was traded to the Chicago Cubs. Livingston wouldn’t appear in the majors in 1944 but would return to the Cubs in 1945.
Livingston would play in 6 games of the 1945 World Series with the Cubs, going 8 for 22 with 3 doubles, good for a .364 BA.
Waived by the Cubs in July of 1947, Livingston would spend the remainder of 1947 with the Giants, extending his stay on the Giants roster through mid-June of 1949 when he was waived again, this time selected by the Boston Braves.
Livingston would play in 28 games for the Braves in 1949 and would finish his career in 1951, playing in 2 games for the Brooklyn Dodgers, his last appearance coming in mid-September.