Hiring Frank Chance, or The Smartest Thing Charlie Murphy Ever Did in Baseball
Updated: Jun 2, 2022
Charlie Murphy made a lot of chess moves during his time in professional baseball, but none of them proved to be more important than his hiring of Frank Chance to permanently manage the Chicago Cubs following the 1905 season. Chance took over the team on an interim basis midway through that campaign because manager Frank Selee suffered an unfortunate illness that forced him to step away from the club.
Chance had big shoes to fill, and he did an admirable job. Chance's teammates respected him and took to the relentlessly tough attitude that "Husk" brought to the ballpark everyday. The Cubs went 55-33 under Chance and finished in third place in 1905. Murphy recognized Chance's talent and happily handed the reigns of the team over to the 28-year-old. Murphy signed Chance to a multi-year contract that - get this - included an option to buy ten percent of the Cubs. Murphy did not want to simply hire Chance, he wanted to partner with him. Chance agreed to the deal and, as Annie Taft's bookkeeping reveals, the Cubs "Peerless Leader" soon owned part of the team.
Beginning with his first full season as skipper, Chance's Cubs averaged 105 wins a season over the next five years during which the team won four pennants. Murphy spent considerable time around legendary New York Giants manager John McGraw for the first half of the 1905 which helped inform the new Cubs owner's instincts about who could best lead a clubhouse, and Charlie wisely trusted Chance. However, making the astonishing move of allowing Chance to become a minority shareholder still stuns today, but it was the right decision. Believing in Chance after his interim audition was the smartest move Murphy ever made in baseball.