Red Sox mourn the passing of John McNamara

Former Manager Led Boston to 1986 American League Pennant

July 30th, 2020

BOSTON, MA—The Boston Red Sox mourn the loss of John McNamara, who passed away on Tuesday in Brentwood, TN, at the age of 88. McNamara spent nearly 50 years in professional baseball, including 19 seasons as a major league manager. He managed 571 games with the Red Sox from 1985-88, leading the club to the 1986 American League pennant.

Born on June 4, 1932 in Sacramento, CA, McNamara compiled a 1,160-1,233-2 (.485) record as a major league manager with the Oakland A’s (1969-70), San Diego Padres (1974-77), Cincinnati Reds (1979-82), California Angels (1983-84, ’96), Boston (1985-88), and Cleveland (1990-91). He led the 1979 Reds to the National League’s best record (90-71) and earned American League Manager of the Year honors in 1986 after guiding the Red Sox to a 95-66 record.

McNamara attended Christian Brothers High School before signing with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1951. He played 14 minor league seasons as a catcher (1951-52, ’55-64, ’66-67), missing the 1953-54 seasons due to military service in the United States Army. He served as both a player and a manager in the A’s minor league system beginning in 1959.

After winning consecutive Southern League titles with Mobile (1966) and Birmingham (1967), McNamara joined the A’s major league coaching staff for the 1968 season. He took over as the team’s manager in September 1969 after Hank Bauer was fired, then managed the A’s to an 89-73 record in 1970. McNamara joined the San Francisco Giants as a third base coach for the 1971-73 seasons, managed the Padres from 1974-76 and for the first 48 games of 1977, and served as a third base coach for the Angels in 1978. 

McNamara managed 10 consecutive seasons in the majors from 1979-88 with the Reds, Angels, and Red Sox. In three-and-a-half seasons managing the Red Sox, McNamara compiled a 297-273 (.521) record. He ranks 11th in franchise history in games managed and is one of only two men to earn BBWAA Manager of the Year honors with the Red Sox (also Jimy Williams). 

Following his tenure with the Red Sox, McNamara served as a scout for the Seattle Mariners in 1989. He managed Cleveland in 1990 and part of 1991, then spent five years as a catching instructor in the Angels organization. He briefly returned to the dugout in 1996, managing the Angels for 28 games in an interim role.

McNamara is survived by his wife, Ellen; three of his children, Peggy, Susan, and Mike; eight grandchildren; and one great grandchild. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Maureen. 

Services will be held for only family on Friday, August 7, at noon at the Harpeth Hills Memory Garden Funeral Home in Nashville, TN. Burial services will also be for only family. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to charities of people’s choosing, to the Boys & Girls Clubs, or to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.