Nobody's gone from player to manager faster than Vogt since 1987

January 22nd, 2024

One of the most heartwarming moments of 2022 came on the final day of the regular season, when  rounded the bases with unbridled joy in the seventh inning after homering in the final at-bat of his career. Back on June 28, 2013, also for Oakland, Vogt had homered for his first career hit. He became the 10th player to debut in the expansion era (since 1961) to have a home run for his first and last career hits, with the last coming 10 or more seasons after the first, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

That’s right -- the Guardians’ current manager was busy homering in his final at-bat just two years ago. If beginning a managerial career so soon after playing sounds rare, that’s because it is. Yes, there used to be player/managers, most recently Pete Rose from 1984-86. But this is different, the idea of the two careers being distinct and Vogt still being chosen to manage so quickly after playing.

Entering the 2024 season, there have been 30 total managers (excluding those who were player/managers) whose first game as a manager was within two years of a season as a player, as Vogt’s will be, according to Elias. The real vote of confidence, though, is starting a season as the manager, as opposed to being an in-season interim replacement.

To that point, 19 of the 30 began their managerial careers in their teams' first game of a season. The last such instance among that group of 19 was Larry Bowa with the 1987 Padres, after playing his final MLB game on Oct. 6, 1985.

Of those 19 recently retired players to begin their teams’ seasons in their managerial debuts, seven have done so since 1961. Prior to Bowa, it was Lou Piniella with the 1986 Yankees (played in '84), Joe Adcock with Cleveland in 1967 (played in '66), Red Schoendienst with the 1965 Cardinals (played in '63), Yogi Berra with the 1964 Yankees (played in '63 and '65 but was never a player/manager, so he makes our list -- oh, Yogi), Alvin Dark with the 1961 Giants (played in '60) and Mickey Vernon with the 1961 Senators (played in '60).

When Vogt takes the lineup card to home plate on March 28 in Oakland, because of course that’s where his managerial career will begin, we’ll be witnessing something that hasn’t happened since 1987. Quite a remarkable feat.

“I thought, ‘Holy smokes, we start in Oakland,’” Vogt said earlier this offseason. “That’s going to be such an emotional moment. I grew up close to there, I have a ton of friends and family, and to hear your name announced on a field for the first time as a manager in Oakland with an opportunity to get your first win -- first few wins -- it’s going to be such a full-circle moment and another sign that this is where I’m supposed to be.”

He’ll be the 11th manager since 1961 to make his managerial debut against his final team during his time as a player, per Elias. The last was Bo Porter, who faced the Rangers in his first game as a manager with the 2013 Astros after his final game played was in 2001, for Texas against Detroit.

Vogt's first and last hits were homers, both in Oakland for the A’s. And now he’ll manage his first regular-season game at the same venue. What else will the Baseball Gods have in store?