At first glance, this is a pretty boring story, but the thing is that Gene Mauch said, in late August 1980, that he was resigning as manager of the Twins because, “I wasn’t contributing enough. Those players obviously needed help and I wasn’t giving it to them.”
Mauch had voluntarily given up a $100,000 a year salary good through 1981. And it wasn’t from burnout, even though Mauch said: “In 20 years, I think I’ve averaged four or four and a half hours’ sleep a night.
“Usually I’d get today’s game played over and out of my mind by the time I went to bed. I’d go to sleep, and then four hours or so later I’d be awake, not on my feet but playing the next day’s game.”
Mauch had been in a training camp for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the early ’40s, and Branch Rickey said: “Look at him, and you think he’s 16. Talk to him, and you think he’s 26. Talk baseball with him, and you think he’s 36.”
It seems like Mauch is remembered now mostly as a manager who never got to the World Series, and he had his last real hurrah with the near-miss 1986 Angels. The next March, Mauch said: “For a few weeks after that [losing the ALCS], every morning when I woke up, I felt it in my stomach, like a hot dagger in my belly button.”
Nonetheless, quite a while after resigning in 1980, Mauch, reflecting on life as a Twins manager, said: “Back in 1975 I promised myself I would never, ever take a job managing another bad team.
“When the Minneapolis chance came along I thought it was the right one. Oakland had dominated the American League West and I thought the A’s were ripe for plucking. I thought Minneapolis had the makings of a winner, and, if we had been able to keep the players we had and add a few, we might have done it.”
When Mauch died in August 2005, former Dodgers, Angels and Padres GM Buzzie Bavasi said: “I’d put him in the same category of Walter Alston and, believe me, that’s the highest compliment I could give a man. Gene was just like Alston in that he let his players play and if they had any questions, he’d answer them. It’s too bad he never once had the kind of club as we had in Brooklyn in the ’50s.”