The Minnesota Twins and the Philadelphia Phillies met this afternoon in a Grapefruit League matchup that would wind up going down in history as the first time in Major League history that two current Hall of Fame players managed against each other.
Ryne Sandberg, a 2005 Hall of Fame inductee, took over as manager of the Phillies in August of 2013 on an interim basis before he was named full time manager the next month. He was opposed today by Twins skipper Paul Molitor, a 2004 Hall of Fame inductee who was named Minnesota’s manager this winter after Ron Gardenhire was fired.
Molitor described the two as friends in an interview before the game and was very interested by the piece of trivia that two current Hall of Fame players had never managed against each other before today.
Molitor and Sandberg are currently the only two Major League managers who have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame. The Twins and Phillies are not scheduled to meet in the regular season, making it extremely unlikely that this can become a first time feat outside of an exhibition game in 2015.
There have been numerous managers to play out Hall of Fame careers and make the transition to becoming a manager, which leaves a lot of fans surprised to learn that this is only the first time two have managed against each other. Players talented enough and legendary enough to be honored with an eternal spot in Cooperstown should easily have a strong enough knowledge of the game to become a coach but it is possible that many of them just don’t want to put in the work that it takes to reach the Majors all over again.
Both Sandberg and Molitor had to go to the minor leagues once again, this time as a coach, before getting hired as a Major League manager. Sandberg held the managerial positions in Class-A, Double-A and Triple-A in the Chicago Cubs system before jumping to the Phillies system where he led their Triple-A affiliate for two years. He joined the big club as the third base coach and was eventually promoted to manager. This made him the first full-time Major League manager who was in the Hall of Fame since Frank Robinson in 2006.
Molitor’s path was a little different, but still included years in the minor leagues. This is the first season where Molitor has the title of manager at any level after he spent ten years as the team’s minor league base running and infield coordinator before being hired as Gardenhire’s bench coach for the 2014 season.