Oldest managers in baseball history

October 30th, 2020

When Tony La Russa manages his first game for the White Sox in his second stint with the club, scheduled for April 1 in Anaheim, he will be 76 years and 179 days old. La Russa will already be just the second manager to manage a game after being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a manager. But his age is a notable detail as well.

La Russa will be the third-oldest individual to manage a game, based on age on the final date managing, and the second oldest at the time of beginning a stint managing a team, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Here’s a look at the oldest managers in baseball history through two lenses: the oldest to manage a game and the oldest to start a new stint with a team.

La Russa will be the third-oldest individual on this list when he manages his first game.

Connie Mack: 87 years, 283 days old
Mack’s managerial career was unlike anything we will ever see again. He began managing as a player/manager with the Pirates in 1894-96. Then, in 1901, he became the Athletics’ manager -- a post he would hold through 1950. He guided the club to five World Series titles and nine pennants overall, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1937.

Jack McKeon: 80 years, 309 days old
McKeon first managed as a 42-year-old in 1973 with the Royals. He managed five franchises in his career, and it’s the last team he spent time with that he’s remembered for most. He guided the Marlins to a World Series in 2003 as a 72-year-old, and managed them through 2005. Then, in 2011 after firing Edwin Rodriguez, the team brought McKeon back after Brandon Hyde handled one game in between, to finish out the season.

Casey Stengel: 74 years, 359 days old
Stengel was 42 years old when he first managed a game, in 1934 with the Dodgers. After managing them and the Braves, he began a run of success with the Yankees from 1949 through 1960 that included 10 pennants and seven World Series titles. After a year off from managing in 1961, he took over the Mets in 1962 for their inaugural season. He managed through age 74 in 1965, landing him this placement on this list, before retiring midseason with a health issue.

Chuck Dressen: 71 years, 237 days old
Dressen’s first managerial job was with the Reds in 1934, when he was 39 years old. He managed them until 1937, and then didn’t manage again until 1951 -- when he skippered the Dodgers through 1953. Two years later, he was guiding the Senators through 1957, and then it was to Milwaukee for 1960-61. He finished his managerial career with the Tigers, beginning partway into 1963 and ending in 1966 due to health issues. He passed away in August of that year.

Felipe Alou: 71 years, 142 days old
Alou didn’t begin his managerial career at as young of an age as some of the others on this list -- starting with the Expos as a 57-year-old in the 1992 season. He managed them until the 2001 season, and two years later, he became the Giants manager for 2003. Alou managed the Giants for four years, making his way onto this list with that final year.

La Russa will rank second oldest on this list when he manages his first game.

2011: Jack McKeon, Marlins -- 80 years, 209 days
As noted above, McKeon returned to the Marlins as an end-of-year interim in 2011. That was six years after he had previously managed in baseball, also with the Florida club.

2003: Jack McKeon, Marlins -- 72 years, 169 days
McKeon was actually the Marlins’ second manager of 2003, coming in after the team fired Jeff Torborg following a 16-22 start. They’re one of just two teams (along with the 1978 Yankees) to win the World Series following an in-season managerial change.

2020: Dusty Baker, Astros -- 71 years, 39 days
Baker returned to managing in 2020 with the Astros and brought the team all the way to a Game 7 in the ALCS. Before this, he’d last managed in 2017 with the Nationals. Baker’s career began in 1993, at 43 years old.

1963: Chuck Dressen, Tigers -- 68 years, 271 days
Dressen’s hiring partway into the 1963 season began a stretch of four years where he managed the club, though it is worth noting that he did not begin the 1965 season as Tigers manager, instead taking over after 42 games, after dealing with health issues, recurrences of which eventually ended his managerial career in 1966.

2011: Davey Johnson, Nationals -- 68 years, 148 days
Johnson was a young manager in 1986, in his third year, when the Mets won the World Series in 1986. He managed them until 1990, then took over for the Reds in 1993 through 1995. He managed the Orioles for two years after that, and the Dodgers from 1999-2000. The Nationals hired Johnson in 2011 after firing Jim Riggleman and three games from John McLaren, at which point he was 68 years old when beginning this stint.