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One strike away

Catching up with John McNamara

He was one strike away from being immortalized all over New England.

John McNamara managed the Boston Red Sox for three and half years (1985-88), which included the infamous 1986 Red Sox team that went to the World Series.

“I enjoyed it very much and had a very good time,” said McNamara about managing in Boston. “The people were very nice and good to me there.”

Red Sox Nation will never forget the 1986 World Series when the Red Sox were one strike away from winning it all. It would have been the first World Series championship for Boston since 1918.

In the end, it was not meant to be and the New York Mets rallied to win Game 6 despite trailing by two runs with two outs in extra-innings and then came back from three runs down in Game 7 crushing all the hearts of Red Sox fans everywhere.

“The disappointment of losing in ’86 still hangs there,” said McNamara. “We weren’t predicted to be anywhere near we got. We had a good ball club that played together that got along and played very hard.”

These days, McNamara, 72, resides in Brentwood, Tennessee with his wife, Ellen, and they have been married over 20 years. McNamara has four children and eight grandchildren.

“That’s where my wife is from,” said McNamara about settling down in Tennessee. “Her mother was still alive at the time (we moved here). I was raised in California and I didn’t particularly care about moving back to California.”

Currently, McNamara is officially retired and enjoys reading and simply being a sports fan.

“I read a lot,” said McNamara. “Of course if there is something sports-wise on television I watch that. Now it’s basketball and I watched college hockey.”

Prior to retiring, McNamara served as an advisor to the Farm Director of the California Angels and was also a Minor League catching instructor.

“I enjoyed it very much,” said McNamara. “I could come and go visiting the ball clubs during the season. I spent the Major League portion of it in Spring Training and then would go to Minor League camp.”

McNamara's first managerial job was in 1969 at the age of 37 with the Oakland A's. For his career, along with managing the Red Sox and A's, McNamara managed the San Diego Padres (1974-77), Cincinnati Reds (1979-82), California Angels (1983-84, 1996), and the Cleveland Indians (1990-91).

McNamara managed a total of 2,395 games and won 1,160 of them.

“From where I came from, yes, I am very proud of my managing career,” said McNamara. “I never played in the Major Leagues and I did not grow up in a wealthy family. My mother had to watch where the pennies went. There is satisfaction in that.”

As far as the current Red Sox, McNamara was happy to see them win it all last year, but being so far removed from the organization the sentimental attachment was not there.

“I watched the World Series, but there is not the attachment to the Red Sox that much any longer,” said McNamara. “Ownership has changed, players have come and gone and for that manner and I don’t know any player on the Red Sox team.”


The McNamara File

NAME: John McNamara

BIRTHDAY: June 4, 1932

RESIDES: Brentwood, Tennessee

CURRENTLY: Retired

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP: Sacramento, California

ENJOYS: Reading and being a sports fan

CLAIM TO FAME: Boston Red Sox manager (1985-88), who was one strike away from the winning the World Series in 1986

DID YOU KNOW? McNamara was the 1986 American League Manager of the Year

HIGHLIGHT OF MANAGERIAL CAREER: Going to the World Series

GREATEST BASEBALL PLAYER YOU MANAGED: It's difficult to cut it even down to 10 players. Over the 19 years I had some very good players

ONE WORD TO DESCRIBE RED SOX FANS: Knowledgeable

FAVORITE THING ABOUT NEW ENGLAND: The people and the restaurants

IF YOU HAD ONE WISH, WHAT WOULD IT BE: Continued health

EVER WALK THE FREEDOM TRAIL: Yes I did

PICK TO WIN THE 2005 WORLD SERIES: I have no idea. So many things can happen over the course 162 games you don't expect

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