According to reports, the slumping Florida Marlins are going to hire Jack McKeon to replace Edwin Rodriguez after Rodriguez resigned as the team's manager on Sunday. An announcement is scheduled for Monday, and may have already been made by the time this post gets published, since Jack McKeon wakes up at 3:30 every morning. This is an old joke.
Jack McKeon is 80. He is an 80-year-old man. If he is indeed being hired, he will become the second-oldest manager in the history of Major League Baseball, which dates all the way back to the birth of Jack McKeon. I know that the "old" angle is obvious and uncreative, but it's the obvious angle for a reason - 80 is often too old to jog or stand up, much less manage a group of professional athletes. It is the obvious angle because it is absolutely crazy.
This is a post about how old Jack McKeon is. There are going to be hundreds, if not thousands of things written over the next few days on the same subject. But what I want to do here is try to identify the one fact that makes Jack McKeon seem the most old. We know he's 80. What is 80? What does 80 mean? I want to try to find the one fact that makes you stop in your tracks and most think "man, Jack McKeon is old." After an evening of research, I have it narrowed down to four candidates.
(1) Lou Piniella was the starter in left field on Jack McKeon's first-ever Major League lineup card
McKeon made his Major League managerial debut on April 6, 1973 for the Kansas City Royals. The opposing pitcher was a 26-year-old Nolan Ryan. McKeon's shortstop was Freddie Patek. McKeon's second baseman was Cookie Rojas. McKeon's right fielder was Hal McRae. And McKeon's left fielder was Lou Piniella. This is what Lou Piniella (he's the one on the left) looked like in March:
Since Jack McKeon managed his first Major League game, Lou Piniella recorded 1,099 hits, retired, became a manager, won 1,835 games over 23 years in building a case for the Hall of Fame, and retired again.
(2) Jack McKeon's name is Jack McKeon
Technically it's not Jack McKeon. It's actually John Aloysius McKeon. If anything, "Jack" makes him sound younger since Aloysius is a name you give a 17th century pope. But just the name "Jack McKeon" conjures the black-and-white image of a world-weary 1950s businessman who smokes three packs a day and is already 37 years old.
(3) Jack McKeon was born in the year that Arthur Conan Doyle died
You are, of course, familiar with the detective character Sherlock Holmes. Holmes was featured in four novels and 56 short stories, beginning in 1887, and was the creation of Arthur Conan Doyle, who was alive and quite well, all things considered, when McKeon was conceived.
(4) Jack McKeon was a professional baseball player prior to the invention of Mr. Potato Head
Spirograph and Operation - these were 1960s diversions. By the time they came around, was already well established, having been the first toy to be advertised on television in 1952. Mr. Potato Head was first manufactured in 1952, but it was actually invented in 1949. By 1949, Jack McKeon was already playing minor league baseball.
So those are the four candidates. I'm still not sure which of them makes McKeon seem the most old, but they all leave me excitedly awaiting the day that Logan Morrison tries to explain to his manager what Twitter is.