C I N C I N N A T I, Nov. 3, 2000 -- Bob Boone was willing to take the CincinnatiReds’ managing job — and the below-market contract offer that camewith it — to get back to the thing he loves most in baseball.
Boone was hired today as the successor to Jack McKeon, ending amanager search that repeatedly ran into road blocks because of theteam’s offer.
Boone, who managed Kansas City from 1995-97, became the fallbackchoice after Reds third base coach Ron Oester and New York Yankeesthird base coach Willie Randolph turned down the job.
Boone accepted a two-year contract with a team option for 2002,meaning he’s not guaranteed to be the manager when the club movesinto its new ballpark.
He didn’t hesitate when the club offered the job this morningafter Oester turned it down.
“I think you know I’ve been out of managing for three years andprobably appreciate it now since I’ve been out and realize howdifficult it is to get back in,” Boone said.
Job Is Not About Money
Oester, a Cincinnati native who spent his entire career in theReds organization, reportedly rejected an offer of $300,000 peryear — less than Lloyd McClendon got in Pittsburgh.
Oester drove to the stadium before the news conference todayand took all of the personal items from his dressing cubicle,leaving only the team-issued shirts and jerseys. Boone didn’t knowwhether Oester would stay around for the final year of hiscontract.
Asked how long it took him to decide to accept the job, Boonesaid, “How long does it take to write Bob Boone? This job is notabout money for me.”
Like Oester, Randolph took himself out of the running because hethought the club’s offer wasn’t adequate.
A Love for Managing
Since general manager Jim Bowden took over after the 1992season, he hasn’t offered anything more than a two-year contract toa manager. Seattle’s Lou Piniella — who was the Reds’ top choice — and the Mets’ Bobby Valentine both got three-year extensions fromtheir clubs on Tuesday.
Bowden said the Reds are wary of having to pay the rest of amanager’s contract if it decides to fire him.
“The fact of the matter is, in a small- or middle-market it’stough to have to eat a contract when you’re trying to winballgames,” Bowden said. “It doesn’t work. So from the club’s perspective, a shorter term we think is beneficial.”
Boone, who went 181-206 in Kansas City, has been a specialassistant to Bowden for three years. He played 19 seasons with thePhillies, Angels and Royals and set a major league record for gamescaught in a career (2,225), since broken by Hall of Famer CarltonFisk.
“I find that I loved managing more than I loved anything,” hesaid.
He will be managing his son, Aaron, a third baseman for theReds.
Contract Offer Posed Problems
The Reds were the second of six major league teams to fire theirmanagers and the last to fill their vacancy. Their contract offerbecame a major obstacle.
They’d hoped to bring back Lou Piniella, who led the Reds to a1990 World Series sweep of Oakland. He declined after talkingbriefly to the Reds on Tuesday, choosing to sign a three-yearextension with the Seattle Mariners.
The Reds also had sought permission to talk to Bobby Valentine,who agreed to a three-year extension with the Mets on Tuesday.
The Reds then returned to their second-tier candidates — they’dinterviewed nine in the first round. They brought Randolph back fora second interview and discussed a contract, but he backed out onThursday.
“The commitment that I was looking for wasn’t there,” Randolphsaid Thursday night in a telephone interview from his home. “Thatwas basically it.
“It just didn’t work out. I was excited about the opportunityto maybe become a Red, but it didn’t work out as far as me feelingright. I thanked them for the opportunity.”
Oester, Griffey Were In the Running
The Reds then turned to Oester, who also balked at the contractoffer — reportedly $300,000.
The contract also was an issue with former manager Jack McKeon,who led the team to 96 wins in 1999 and won NL Manager of the Yearbut was offered only a one-year extension for much less than hesought.
McKeon accepted the offer and was fired a day after the 2000season ended. The Reds failed to win the NL Central despite havingKen Griffey Jr. in the lineup.
The Reds paid Griffey and Barry Larkin big contracts this year,straining their budget. That was a factor in their offers tomanagerial candidates.
They interviewed at least nine candidates, including Boone, whenthey began their search. Oester and bench coach Ken Griffey Sr.were the two in-house candidates.
Griffey Sr. wanted the managing job and Junior wanted him tohave it. Like Oester, Griffey Sr. has no managing experience. Bothof them are under contract as coaches for next season.