A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 07, 2015
“You can’t fire 25 players, so you fire the manager”

What’s a losing sports team to do? “You can’t fire 25 players, so you fire the manager,” a popular theory holds.

“But when a club isn’t winning it is always easy to fire the manager” was cited in 1946. “When it comes down to the final wire, you can’t fire the ballplayers, so only one guy is expendable,” a fired baseball manager said in 1958. “You can’t fire all the players,” another fired baseball manager said in 1961. “You can’t fire 25 players”—that is, all the players on a baseball team—was cited in 1972.


Google News Archive
13 September 1946, Toledo (OH) Blade, “Mirrors of Sport” by Bob French, pg. 30, col. 1:
It’s well known in baseball that if you haven’t a good second baseman you can’t fire the fellow you have and grab somebody else; you must be sure you can improve matters before taking any radical step. The same goes for players in other positions. But when a club isn’t winning it is always easy to fire the manager. New managers can always be obtained.

2 December 1958, Greensboro (NC) Record, “Firing Comes As No Surprise To Bob Wanzer,” pg. B11, col. 4:
CINCINNATI, Dec. 2 (AP)—Bobby Wanzer got his walking papers yesterday as coach of the lackluster pro basketball Cincinnati Royals. He said, “I expected it.

“We were losing and there was nothing else that could be done. When it comes down to the final wire, you can’t fire the ballplayers, so only one guy is expendable.”

18 November 1961, Boston (MA) Traveler, “Players Fired Me, Not Kerner—Seymour,” pg. 5, col. 4:
ST. LOUIS (AP)—Paul Seymour, out as coach of the staggering St. Louis Hawks, says he has no ill feeling toward owner Ben Kerner because “he didn’t fire me—the players did.”

Seymour said Kerner “treated me fine, but what are you going to do? You can’t fire all the players.”

25 August 1964, The Register-Republic (Rockford, IL), “Mele, Craft, Dark Likely Job-Hunters” by Milton Richman, pg. 4B, col. 1:
NEW YORK (UPI)—It’s Russian roulette time in the majors again, meaning you can start looking for those managerial casualties, with Sam Mele of Minnesota slate to be among the early victims.

Inevitably when a club goes bad, a change has to be made. As one club owner put it, “You can’t fire all the ball players,” so he resorts to the next best thing and simply fires the manager.

19 November 1966, Boston (MA) Traveler, “Anyone Want To Coach Bullets?” by Hugh Wheelwright, pg. 4, col. 3:
“Our lousy play wasn’t Farmer’s fault, but you can’t fire 12 men so you fire the coach.”
(Baltimore Bullets head coach Buddy Jeannette, speaking about the previous head coach.—ed.)

12 July 1972, Illinois State Journal (Springfield, IL), “Sports Journal” by Larry Harnly, pg. 46, col. 2:
“You can’t fire 25 players.”
(Baseball manager Hank Bauer.—ed.)

Google News Archive
9 August 1972, Lawrence (KS) Daily Journal-World, “On the Bench” by Chuck Woodling, pg. 21, col. 1:
As they say, you can’t fire 25 players so you might as well fire the manager.

Google News Archive
28 June 1974, Ocala (FL) Star-Banner, “Change Pleases Players” (AP), pg. 2B, col. 1:
‘You can’t fire 25 ballplayers, so you fire the manager,” he (Frank Robinson—ed.) said.

Google News Archive
16 August 1975, The Blade (Toledo, OH), “Importance Of Baseball Managers Is Open To Debate” (AP), sec. D, pg. 1, col. 1:
As the old line goes, when you’ve got a loser on your hands you can’t fire 25 players, so you dump the manager.

Google News Archive
31 May 1977, Pittsburgh (PA) Press, “Nope, You Can’t Fire The Players” by Milton Richman, pg. C-2, cols. 1-2:
NEW YORK (UPI)—Last manager to go was John McNamara over the weekend. Net one will be Joe Frazier.

Frazier’s no more completely to blame for the chaotic state the Mets now are in than McNamara is altogether responsible for the Padres’ disappointing showing, but when a ball club goes to pieces, who are you going to fire, the 25 players? Of course not. You fire the manager.

Google Books
Nine Innings:
The Anatomy of a Baseball Game

By Daniel Okrent
New York, NY: Ticknor & Fields
1985
Pg. 254:
Dalton, the general manager, never invoked the cliche “You can’t fire the players, so you’ve got to fire the manager.”

Google Books
The Armchair Book of Baseball II
By John Thorn
New York, NY: Scribner’s
1987
Pg. 90:
You can’t fire twenty-five players, but you can fire the manager.

Google Books
When in Doubt, Fire the Skipper:
Midseason Managerial Changes in Major League Baseball

By Gary Webster
Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc.
2014
Pg. 142:
“You can’t fire 25 players, so you fire the manager.”

Comcast Sportsnet—New England
McAdam: Can’t fire the pitchers, so Nieves takes fall
By Sean McAdam
May 7, 2015, 4:15 pm
You know the old saying—usually heard in professional sports when a team fires its manager or head coach: “You can’t fire 25 [or 53 or whatever the applicable number is] players.’’

The same, apparently, applies to underachieving teams and their pitching coach.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Thursday, May 07, 2015 • Permalink