John Francis McNamara passed away peacefully on Tuesday, July 28th 2020 at his home in Brentwood, Tennessee. Born on June 4th 1932 to John and Josephine McNamara in Sacramento, California, John was a baseball prodigy and at an early age developed leadership qualities that would propel him to baseball’s highest stage. After leading his high school, and junior college teams to championships, he was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1951. After two years in the army, John played for his home team, the Sacramento Solons, where his manager, Tommy Heath, predicted that he would be in the major leagues one day. At the age of 26, he became a playing manager for Lewiston, the Class B minor league team of the Kansas City Athletics. As he was promoted through the minor leagues, John won championships in Lewiston, Mobile, and Birmingham. Many of his players in Birmingham would become major league stars, and his leadership and sensitivity in the racially segregated south had a profound influence on them, specifically Reggie Jackson. John became a major league coach for the Oakland A’s in 1968, sharing duties with Joe DiMaggio. Late in the 1969 season, at the age of 36, he was named manager of the A’s. The following season, he won 89 games, the most that franchise had won since 1932. John was fired by A’s owner Charles Finley following the 1970 season, but would go on to manage 5 other teams over a 19 year major league career: The San Diego Padres (1974-77), The Cincinnati Reds (1979-82), The California Angels (1983-84, 96), The Boston Red Sox (1985-88), and the Cleveland Indians (1990-91). His teams won 1,167 games, including the National League West championship in 1979 (Cincinnati), and the American League pennant in 1986 (Boston). In 1986, his Red Sox battled the heavily favored New York Mets to the 7th game of the World Series, and he was awarded the American League Manager of the Year. A true baseball lifer, John tasted the fruits of victory and the dregs of defeat, but for those who knew him, he will be remembered as a kind and decent man, and one heck of a baseball manager.
John is survived by his wife Ellen (Goode) McNamara, son Michael, daughters Peggy McNamara, Susan (Phil) Salsbery, grandchildren John McNamara II (Susie), Patrick McNamara, Katherine McNamara, Colleen McNamara, Hallie Frenzel, Otto Frenzel V, John Frenzel, Preston Frenzel, great-grandson Finn McNamara, and brother, Frank McNamara.
There will be a private funeral service Friday, August 7, at 12 Noon at Harpeth Hills Memory Gardens Funeral Home, Highway 100, Nashville, TN. with interment to follow.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the ASPCA, Christian Brothers High School, Sacramento, CA., or a charity of your choice during these difficult times in our country.
Please remember John in your thoughts and prayers.