Gene Mauch Dead at Age 79

Like it or not, Gene Mauch will always be known to Phillies fans as the manager of the 1964 Phillies. It was Mauch who led the Phillies when they blew a seemingly insurmountable and fell short of playing in the 1964 World Series.

He was known as the "Little General".

His personality was fiery, but yet friendly. He was the sort of manager who was player-friendly, yet could become a player's worst enemy if he was crossed. His steely eyes could bore a hole right through players and media members alike.

After a lengthy battle with cancer, Mauch lost his final battle at a medical facility in Rancho Mirage, California on Monday. He was 79.

In 1964, Mauch led the Phillies to a 6 1/2 game lead with 12 games left to play. From there, a team that he described as "perfect" through their first 150 games completely fell apart, losing ten straight and their lead in the National League pennant race. Perhaps the biggest question mark has been Mauch's controversial decision to pitch Jim Bunning and Chris Short way too much. Neither had anything left in the tank, but they were basically Mauch's only choices.

"I have never seen a team play as perfectly as they did through the first 150 games of the season," said Mauch in a 1999 interview. "I don't regret how I managed that team, but I do regret that many of those players didn't get to experience playing in the World Series, because they deserved it."

Compiling a record of 645-684 as Phillies manager, Mauch is the franchise leader in both wins and losses by a manager. Mauch took over the Phillies in the third game of the 1960 season and managed until mid-season in 1968, finishing his Phillies career as manager in 1,331 games. His clubs finished with two ties during his tenure.

Mauch managed the California Angels and suffered similar meltdowns as their manager in 1982 and 1986. In '82, the Angels won the first two games of the American League Championship before losing three straight to the Milwaukee Brewers. Then, in 1986, the Angels were again poised to head to the World Series when disaster struck. Boston's Dave Henderson launched a two-run home run to tie Game 5 of the ALCS and the Red Sox went on to win that game and the next two to steal the American League pennant from California.

Besides managing the Phillies and Angels, Mauch managed in Minnesota and Montreal, winning 1,901 games, which puts him 11th on the list of all-time managers. No other manager in baseball history managed more games without winning a pennant than Mauch.

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