On August 24, 1951 — In another of Bill Veeck’s legendary public relations stunts, “Fans Managers’ Night,” the Browns defeat the Athletics, 5 – 3. The Browns’ coaches hold up placards for 1115 fans, who vote “yes” or “no” on the options given them. Manager Zack Taylor sits in a box behind the dugout with two fans who monitor the voting. Adding to the festivities is Max Patkin, the clown prince of baseball, who coaches at first base for several innings. Sherm Lollar voted in to start behind the plate instead of Matt Batts, has three hits including a homer, and Hank Arft, also voted in, knocks home two. Gus Zernial’s 28th home run accounts for all the A’s runs. When the stunt was announced on August 15, A’s GM Art Ehlers bitterly denounced it as “farcical.”
So, just how did the managers do? In his autobiography, Veeck — As in Wreck, the Browns owner wrote of the Grandstand Managers’ performance, “Never has a game been called better.” And, though Veeck was certainly prone to hyperbole, he had a point: The managers correctly decided to leave Garver in the game, and they even voted to play back for a double play with runners on first and third with one out in the first inning — while Athletics second baseman Pete Suter obliged by grounding into a double play.
The Grandstand Managers only made one glaring mistake in the game. After tying the game with a single in the first inning, the group instructed Arft to steal second base with two outs. Unfortunately, the Athletics apparently saw the move coming, and Arft was thrown out easily to end the inning.
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