Manager Jim Riggleman of the Washington Nationals watches from the dugout during a Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Thursday afternoon, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman shocked the baseball world by resigning as manager of the team -- while they are on their hottest streak of the season, going over the .500 mark with a walk-off 1-0 win over the Mariners.
Via tweet from Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, we learn that Riggleman was unhappy that his contract option was not being picked up by the team and Ben Goessling of MASN tweets that Riggleman had told GM Mike Rizzo that if nothing was done on this issue, he'd resign after the game.
But this is not the only shocking resignation of a major league manager, whether during the season or the offseason. Here are several other managers who suddenly quit for various reasons.
October 1964, Johnny Keane, St. Louis Cardinals: Keane had just managed the Cardinals to a shocking come-from-behind NL pennant, their first in 18 years, and a World Series win over the Yankees. At a press conference that reporters thought was being called to announce a contract extension for Keane, Keane resigned -- and within days, was hired to manage the Yankees. This turned out to be a bad move for all concerned; the aging Bronx Bombers had a losing season in 1965 and when they started 1966 4-16, Keane was fired.
October 1973, Dick Williams, Oakland Athletics: Just after winning the A's second consecutive World Series, quit because he was sick of owner Charlie Finley's meddling with his team and Finley's treatment of second baseman Mike Andrews during the Series. Finley held Williams to his contract, though, when he tried to take a job managing the Yankees; he was finally allowed to leave and manage the Angels in 1974. He later managed the Expos, Padres and Mariners, taking Montreal to the NLCS in 1981 and winning the NL pennant with San Diego in 1984.
June 1977, Eddie Stanky, Texas Rangers: Stanky, a scrappy infielder for the great Brooklyn Dodger teams of the 1940s, managed the Cardinals and White Sox in the 1950s and 1960s, coming heartbreakingly close to a pennant in 1967 with the White Sox. Fired halfway through the 1968 season, Stanky, then 52, returned to his home in Alabama to become head baseball coach at the University of South Alabama. In 1977, the Texas Rangers talked him into managing their then-.500 club. Stanky managed one game on June 22 and then decided that "modern" ballplayers weren't to his taste and that he missed home. He quit after just that one game.
June 1991, Don Zimmer, Chicago Cubs: Zimmer's Cubs were struggling, two years past the time when he led them to the NL East title. In a move presaging Riggleman's, Zimmer demanded to know his contract status from GM Jim Frey -- one of Zim's predecessors as Cubs' manager. Frey, who was out of his element in the front office, dithered, and so Zimmer resigned with the team record 18-19. Though he coached for several teams for years after that, he never managed again. His replacement, Jim Essian, finished the 1991 season -- and also never managed in the majors again. Slogan: "The Cubs managing job: get it, and it'll be your last."
July 2007, Mike Hargrove, Seattle Mariners: Hargrove, in his 16th season as a major league manager in a career in which he had five straight playoff appearances and two AL pennants with the Indians, was in his third season as Mariners skipper and had them in second place, four games behind, on July 1, riding an eight-game winning streak. Stunning everyone, he resigned, issuing a statement that said his "passion has begun to fade" and it would not be "fair to myself or the team" to continue. John McLaren took over, went 43-41, and Seattle finished six games behind the wild card Yankees and the first place Angels.
Most managerial tenures end with a firing. But in several cases, including Thursday afternoon's astonishing announcement by Jim Riggleman, these men went out on their own terms.