JANUARY 12, 1961 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS • Chicago Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley dropped a bombshell on the baseball world on this date in 1961. He would not have a manager for the upcoming season. Instead he would institute a Cubs College of Coaches.
The franchise had been struggling. The Cubs were 60-94 in 1960, the eighth year in a row the team lost more games than it won. The status quo wasn’t working. Wrigley wanted to change it.
Wrigley considered the manager a “dictator,” and instead would rotate eight coaches through the major and minor leagues. Each would take turns running the major league club. Length of stay would depend on how well the “coach” was doing. This brain trust became known as the College of Coaches.
Wrigley wanted help from another unlikely source, “Everyone has always said baseball is a game of percentages, but I have yet to find anyone in baseball who can figure the percentages.” He wanted an IBM machine in the dugout so whoever was running the team could access statistical information about opposing, as well as Cub players. This information would in turn help dictate game strategy. Mind you, this is decades before the personal computer.
The Ivy League approach didn’t work. The Cubs finished the 1961 season 64-90, just four games better than the year before. The situation got worse in 1962 when the Cubs lost 103 games on a 154-game schedule, the worst season the Cubs ever had. And that was the end of the Cubs College of Coaches.