Considering Famous Military Figures as Baseball Managers

Welcome the latest of NotGraphs’ award-winning series of crossbrand edutainment, wherein we consider the life works of an Important Historical Figure and examine, through careful research and analysis, what kind of manager that man would make. Today’s selection: the underrated twentieth-century French antihero, Phillipe Pétain.

Philippe_PetainPétain rose from relative anonymity to become Commander-in-Chief of the French Army during the later stages of the First World War, primarily because he alone among his peers showed a hesitance to hurl his soldiers endlessly into mustard gas-coated barbed wire. He emerged from the War a hero on the scale of Eisenhower, only to end his life thirty years later in disgrace and exile.

Strategic Tendencies: Pétain was very much of the Earl Weaver school of warfare; he was preferred to wait for the three-run home run, saving up his offensives until he was assured of victory rather than dashing forward at the slightest opportunity. He was the sort of man who would hate to make outs on the basepaths. At the same time, the sacrifice bunt would play right into Pétain’s strong sense of nationalism, and of putting one’s country before one’s own happiness.

Defensive Philosophy: For aesthetic reasons alone, Pétain would never employ the shift.

Roster Construction: Pétain was alone among his colleagues for understanding the physical and psychological strain of the front lines. He instituted a policy of rotating soldiers away from the font on a two-week cycle, and by this logic would probably be averse to overworking young pitchers or overusing setup men over the summer months.

Chemistry and Leadership: There’s little question that Pétain would be loved by the general fanbase. But his age, womanizing, temper, manners, anti-Semitism, fascist leanings, and his willingness to cooperate with Hitler would probably cause him to lose the clubhouse.

Best Fit: Miami Marlins




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Patrick Dubuque writes for NotGraphs and The Hardball Times, and he served as former Bill Spaceman Lee Visiting Professor for Baseball Exploration at Pitchers & Poets. Follow him on Twitter @euqubud.


5 Responses to “Considering Famous Military Figures as Baseball Managers”

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  1. Chaco Chicken says:

    Petain is preferable to Ozzie G.

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  2. Walrus says:

    Hey, this is great!

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  3. Damaso's Burnt Shirt says:

    Petain would definitely be a man who favored shifts as he was a master of the defense. Also big on playing his entire roster, a five man rotation, regular rest and platooning hitters. He did plenty of that at Verdun.

    But would he last under Loria? Probably, even though he was a lousy Politician.

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  4. Harry says:

    Vive les poissons!

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