Former Giants manager Joe Altobelli dies at 88

Former Giants manager Joe Altobelli, who won the National League Manager of the Year award in San Francisco and a World Series title in Baltimore, died Wednesday of natural causes at 88.

Altobelli’s three-year stay as the Giants manager in the late 1970s produced optimism in San Francisco, albeit without any real rise in the standings. His Giants teams from 1977-79 went 225-239 and finished no higher than third in the N.L. West.

Altobelli became the eighth manager in San Francisco history when general manager Spec Richardson hired him to replace Bill Rigney on Oct. 7, 1976. After a lackluster beginning, when San Francisco finished 12 games under .500 in ’77, Altobelli oversaw an energetic season in 1978.

Invigorated by acquiring Vida Blue from the A’s in a blockbuster deal at the end of spring training, the Giants used a strong Blue-led pitching staff and an offense featuring Jack Clark, Darrell Evans and Bill Madlock to finish 1978 with their best record in seven years. The Giants’ 89-73 record, though, was only good enough for third place in the West.

The Giants’ surprising ’78 resurgence also enabled the team to more than double its attendance at Candlestick Park. The Giants set a then-franchise record by drawing 1.7 million fans that year — just 700,000 fans came to games in San Francisco in 1977.

Altobelli’s greatest achievement during his nearly six decades in baseball came in 1983, four years after his was fired by the Giants with 22 games left in the 1979 season. That’s when Altobelli led the Orioles to a World Series victory over the Philadelphia Phillies to culminate his first season as their manager.

“Winning a World Series is the pinnacle you reach as a manager,” Altobelli said in 2003. “It’s a rocking chair memory.”

Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. said Altobelli’s calm demeanor was a huge benefit to the Orioles during their 1983 championship season.

“Joe, with his easygoing leadership style, was very helpful to that team,” Ripken said. “There wasn’t any angst, any pressure. … He was a calm, confident leader, and one who knew the ups and downs of the season and pushed through them without overreacting or underreacting.”

Altobelli spent most of his adult life in Rochester, N.Y., the longtime home of the Orioles’ Triple-A team. He played and managed there, leading the Red Wings to one of their greatest runs in franchise history from 1971-74 while winning two championships with future major league stars Don Baylor and Bobby Grich leading the way.

In parts of seven seasons as a big league manager, Altobelli had a 437-407 record (.518 winning percentage). After parts of three seasons in both San Francisco and Baltimore, Altobelli served as the Cubs’ interim manager for one game in 1991.

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Altobelli had a short major league career as a backup first baseman, playing 166 games for the Indians and Twins from 1955-61.

After suffering a stroke in 2017, Altobelli had been in poor health and spent most of his time living at a rehabilitation center in Rochester, which is where he died.

He is survived by six children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, according to reports. Altobelli was preceded in death by his wife of 52 years, Pat, who passed away in 2003.

Source: FS – All – Interesting – News 2
Former Giants manager Joe Altobelli dies at 88