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John McNamara (1932 -2020), manager of 1986 Boston Red Sox

by Linnea Crowther

John McNamara was a Major League Baseball manager and coach who took the Boston Red Sox to the 1986 World Series as their manager before a crushing defeat in Game 7.

Manager and coach

McNamara played baseball in high school and at Sacramento City College, but his professional playing career was short-lived, only lasting a few years in the minor leagues before he began managing teams in the late 1950s. McNamara managed the Oakland A’s, San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds, and California Angels before coming to the Red Sox in 1985. Their 1986 season was on track for glory as they won the American League Championship and faced the New York Mets in the World Series. It was a tight race to Game 7, with the Red Sox coming within one strike of winning Game 6, and the Series. Ultimately, they lost both Game 6 and Game 7, and McNamara was criticized for his management decisions that some believed led to the World Series loss, including keeping Bill Buckner (1949 – 2019) in Game 6. McNamara was named American League Manager of the Year in 1986. In later years, McNamara was a scout and managed the Cleveland Indians. He also coached over the years, for teams including the A’s and the San Francisco Giants.

McNamara on handling a big loss

“You put it in the proper perspective, what it means. It wasn’t meant to be. You go on the best you can and try to put it behind you and not let it kill you.” —from a 2011 interview with the New York Times

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What people said about him

Full obituary: Boston Globe

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