Tom Lasorda is only one of six new National League managers. Below are scouting reports on the others:
JOE ALTOBELLI (San Francisco): 44. Fits every Giant need, being discipline-oriented (San Francisco's players were crying for it last year), a defensive specialist (the Giants made 56 more errors than their opponents in '76), patient and Italian. Won four International League pennants in six years of guiding Oriole farm team in Rochester, N.Y., has 11 years of minor league managing experience. Believed to have been in line for the Baltimore job before Earl Weaver was retained for another season. Had 16½-year professional career as a slugging first baseman, but played in only 166 major league games. Never saw Candlestick Park before signing with the Giants. When his hiring was announced, confused players thought their new manager was former San Francisco First Base Coach Joey Amalfitano.
HERMAN FRANKS (Chicago Cubs): 63. Mr. Loyalty. Best known as owner Horace Stoneham's drinking buddy when he managed the Giants to four second-place finishes in 1965-68. As "Leo's man" in 1971, he acted as liaison between Durocher and Cub players and press. Been out of baseball ever since that season. Hired as Chicago manager by longtime associate and Cub GM Bob Kennedy. Has brought in old cronies Alvin Dark and Peanuts Lowrey to act as strategists. Also Mr. Contradiction. Ever-present dribble of tobacco juice makes him look like a bumpkin, but he has made a fortune with real-estate investments. Convivial nature, communicates well with players. Hit .199 in six seasons as a big-league catcher. Coached the Giants in 1949-55, 1958 and 1964, managed at Salt Lake City in 1961.
VERN RAPP (St. Louis): 48. Won six divisional titles in 15 years of minor league managing. Turned down offer to manage Giants to return to native St. Louis. Signed with Cards as a catcher in 1946. His bonus: a free pass to a doubleheader. Never played in majors, but hit .300 four times in the minors. His strength is handling pitchers, a valuable talent in St. Louis where the young staff needs straightening out. Sparky Anderson-type disciplinarian who listens to players but makes own decisions. Fanatic about hustling who will wear uniform No. 9 because it once belonged to famous St. Louis scrapper Enos Slaughter. Likes delegating authority to coaches, doesn't like beards. "Pro athletes used to consider their opponents dangerous enemies," he says. "Baseball needs that feeling again." If you don't like that, try this: "Batting helmets are for Little Leaguers."
March 14, 1977
CHUCK TANNER (Pittsburgh): 47. From New Castle, Pa., calls return to nearby Pittsburgh "dream come true" after "14-year road trip" managing Quad Cities, El Paso, Seattle, Hawaii in the minors and Chicago White Sox (1970-75) and Oakland (1976). American League Manager of the Year in 1972, when Sox finished second. An unrestrained optimist known for inspiring players and coexisting with Dick Allen. "Tanner motivates, and this team needs motivation," says Pirate Outfielder Al Oliver. Has already begun to change Lumber Company to Speed City by trading slow-footed slugger Richie Zisk to give swift rookies Omar Moreno and Miguel Dilone a chance in center field. Tanner's second-place A's stole a record 341 bases last year. Pirates think so much of Tanner that they traded Catcher Manny Sanguillen and $100,000 for him. Born July 4. Hit homer in first big-league at bat for the Braves. Hitting an even .500 as a big-league manager.
DICK WILLIAMS (Montreal): 47. Managed Boston (1967-69), Oakland (1971-73), California (1974-76) after directing Toronto to two International League titles. Took 100-to-l shot Red Sox to '67 pennant, guided A's to three divisional titles, two world championships. Excellent strategist, stickler for fundamentals. Curt, sarcastic, tends to overdiscipline and ridicule players. Complaints from them led to his dismissal at Boston and California but worked well with the belligerent, idiosyncratic A's. Hit .260 in 13 major league seasons with five clubs, but possible stardom cut short by shoulder injury. Expos could cause him to revert to one of his pastimes as a player—making animal sounds on the bench.