Let’s look back on those Bucco managers near and dear to our hearts, the ones who enchanted the fan base and gave the city a reason to be excited about their ball club with every lineup card they produced.
If there was ever a Pirates’ manager who was the antithesis of these things, it was John Russell.
This week, I want to take the time to remember the man who made it oh-so-close to being Mr. 300. Russell’s all-time record at the helm of the Pirates was 186-299, fired just before he could reach that depressing milestone of 300 losses. The first coaching hire of former general manager Neal Huntington, Russell’s attitude in the dugout seemed to reflect what the GM brought him in to do; produce a lineup card with less than favorable players and suffer the pain of a long, arduous losing season while the organization rebuilds.
Obviously, Russell had no immediate help from management in the way of being given the players necessary to compete. There was no way for this to happen, and he was fired long before the Pirates began to resemble a competitive ball club. At the same time however, his demeanor and seemingly sleepy personality did no favors for a team that already wallowed in self-pity. I can remember just wanting him to get himself tossed out of a game for the sole reason of showing fans he was still paying attention during those disappointing seasons. While he himself says he has no regrets about those pitiful seasons, it’s hard to think that anyone would be able to suffer that much losing for as long as he did.