John McGraw (1873-1934) was the surly manager of baseball's New York Giants for 31 years, from 1902 to 1932. Known as the "Little Napoleon" due to his short stature and warlike approach to the game, McGraw managed his teams to ten National League pennants and captured three World Series crowns. His 2763 wins rank second all-time.
McGraw was also an outstanding player, a fine fielder who hit for average, drew walks, and stole bases. As a fiery young third baseman, McGraw helped lead Ned Hanlon's Baltimore Orioles to three consecutive National League titles from 1894 to 1896. His best campaigns were 1898 and 1899 when he led the league in both walks and runs. In parts of 16 seasons, McGraw compiled a .334 batting average and a .466 on-base percentage to go along with 1024 runs and 436 stolen bases.
McGraw was known and feared for his quick temper and his insatiable mean streak. As a player he was known to do whatever he could to hinder opposing baserunners or break up his opponent's play, specializing in blocking, kicking, spitting, tripping, and spiking. He was constantly involved in brawls and shouting matches, both on and off the field. As a manager he was known for the unrelenting curses and insults he shouted from the dugout, as well as the tyrannical control he exercised over his players.
McGraw saw no point in trying to make friends in the baseball world. "The main idea," he said, "is to win." To this end he would accept anyone onto his team, - drunks, deviants, even "colored" players. All he cared about was whether they could play.
McGraw is credited with adding many innovations to the game, including the Baltimore chop, the squeeze bunt, the hit and run, and the use of signs to communicate strategy to players on the field. McGraw was elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937.
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