John McNamara managed six different teams over 19 seasons as a big league skipper. Most famously, he was the manager of the 1986 Red Sox, who won the American League pennant before falling to the Mets in one of the most memorable World Series ever played. McNamara was named the AL Manager of the Year for the '86 season.

McNamara's managerial career spanned four different decades, beginning with the A's in 1969, the franchise's second season in Oakland. After replacing Hank Bauer in September 1969, McNamara led the A's to a second-place finish in the AL West in '70. Though it was his only full season managing the club, McNamara's success helped pave the way for the powerhouse Oakland teams that won three straight World Series from 1972-74.

In his career as a manager, McNamara went 1,160-1,233, a .485 winning percentage, with the pair of postseason appearances with the Reds and Red Sox.

Born on June 4, 1932, in Sacramento, Calif., McNamara signed with the Cardinals as a catcher in 1951. He played parts of 14 seasons in the Minor Leagues, starting in the St. Louis organization and ending up with the Kansas City A's by the 1960s before becoming a manager.

At the end of the 1984 season Red Sox manager Ralph Houk resigned and Haywood Sullivan, the team’s GM, approached McNamara. In Boston McNamara inherited a fair bit of hitting talent — Jim Rice, Wade Boggs, Dwight Evans — and a crop of young promising pitchers — Dennis Boyd, Bruce Hurst, Bob Ojeda, and the 22-year-old Roger Clemens. Clemens pitched very well in the first half but was felled by an arm injury and started just 15 games. The Red Sox hung around in the race for a few months (they were 7˝ games out on July 26), but a rough stretch in August ended things and they finished 81-81, 18 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays.

Still, McNamara got good reviews in his debut in Boston. McNamara was also a strong delegator, allowing Bill Fischer to handle the pitching staff, Walt Hriniak the hitters, and Lachemann the defense. McNamara gave his coaches freedom, while leaving no doubt who was in charge.

The next year, 1986, is the year that history will most associate with John McNamara. The Red Sox were a good team and led the AL East nearly wire to wire. Clemens broke through with a magnificent 24-4 season, Boggs hit .357, and Jim Rice had his best season in years. And the team capped it off with two dramatic postseason series: a seven-game triumph over the Angels, and a seven-game tragedy at the hands of the Mets.

he regular season was not all a cakewalk. Most trying, for McNamara, was a trial associated with pitcher Dennis Boyd, who was so furious at KC manager Dick Howser for not choosing him for the AL All-Star team (he was 11-6) that he left the club. When he returned, the Red Sox suspended him and demanded that he seek psychiatric counseling. Years later Boyd admitted that he had been a heavy user of marijuana and crack cocaine that season. To McNamara, Boyd had “desecrated the uniform.

The postseason has become the stuff of legends. First, there was the ALCS, in which the Red Sox fell behind 3-1 in games before pulling of a dramatic come-from-behind win in Game Five in Anaheim, and then winning two more in Boston to close it out. Ordinarily, this would be a series everyone would remember in Boston. Sadly for Red Sox fans, it is not.

In the World Series, against the New York Mets, the Red Sox won the first two games at Shea Stadium, came back home to win one of three, then went back to Shea needing to win one of two games. They lost the sixth game in agonizing fashion, giving up a 3-2 lead in the eighth and then a 5-3 lead, and the ballgame, in the 10th. In Game Seven they held a 3-0 lead in the sixth but lost 8-5. Boston, New England, the Red Sox, and certainly John McNamara were devastated.

In the many heartbreaking disappointments the Red Sox suffered in their 86-year gap between championships, 1986 ranks near the top. And no one has been blamed more often than McNamara After the season, McNamara was named the AL Manager of the Year, an award he would have traded for one more victory.

he entire crew showed up again in 1987, which became a year of transition. The club fell to 78-84.

McNamara’s grip on his job began to loosen early in the 1988 season when he lost the support of Jean Yawkey, who owned two-thirds of the team. When the Red Sox struggled again out of the gate, his job status became a daily distraction.

McNamara was fired at the All-Star break in 1988, just a few hours prior to the first game of the second half. The decision was made at a general partners meeting, with his old friend Sullivan dissenting. McNamara was reportedly angry at how it was handled, and it did not help his standing in Boston when the team (under new manager Joe Morgan) won their next 12 games and 19 of 20, and went on to win the AL East.

John McNamara died on July 28, 2020 at age 88, at his home in Nashville TN