Legendary baseball manager and Elon alumnus visits class
Jack McKeon ’63, who has had one of the longest managerial careers in baseball history, spoke to students in a Baseball and Statistics class on Nov. 14.
John Burbridge, professor of operations and supply chain management, invited McKeon to speak to his class because of McKeon’s unique experiences and expertise in baseball.
“Jack’s experiences at all levels of baseball need to be shared with the students,” Burbridge said. “The students need to hear all sides of the various arguments for and against the widespread use of statistics.”
Baseball executives, general managers and managers use statistics to make decisions about players, game situations and salaries. Students in the course learn how to apply statistical data to baseball.
McKeon began his baseball career in 1949 as a minor league catcher and managed 2,269 games in the minor leagues. In 1973 he took his first major league managerial position with Kansas City and went on to manage the Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds and Miami Marlins.
In 1999 he won the National League Manager of the Year Award and has the seventh highest number of victories of active managers. McKeon came out of retirement in 2003 at age 72 to manage the Marlins and lead the team to an improbable World Series title that same season.
McKeon said the key to bringing teams to success is being a bold decision maker and leader.
“Everybody’s got to have a vision. And the leader has to show that vision to the team,” McKeon said.
McKeon is retired now but jokingly says he will come back to managing baseball in 2017, when he would be the oldest active manager in baseball history.