Jan 30, 2015

Former New York Giants Infielder Turned Long Time Manager: Bill Rigney (1946-1953)

William Joseph Rigney was born on January 29, 1918 in Oakland, California. The six foot one, right hand hitting infielder, known as "the cricket" was signed by the New York Giants in the early forties. He was also known as "specs" being one of the few players to wear glasses.

Rigney spent three years in the military during World War II, making it back to the Giants in 1946. He played 110 games, 73 at third base & 33 at second that year. He would become the team’s smain econd baseman from 1947-1949, with career highs in HRs (17) doubles (24) RBIs (59) in 1947.

In 1948 he led the NL in errors, the next year he batted a career high .278 which would be his last season as a Giants regular. By 1950 the Giants had Eddie Stanky to play second base & Hank Thompson for third base. Rigney became a reserve player through the 1953 season.

Post Season: In the 1951 World Series he had four at bats (1-4) as a pinch hitter, driving in the Giants only run in Game #2.

In his eight seasons, Rigney batted .259 with 510 hits 41 HRs 212 RBIs & 78 doubles in 654 games played.

Retirement: After his playing days he replaced Leo Durocher in New York finishing sixth in both 1956 & 1957 the Giants last season in New York. When the Giants moved to San Francisco in 1958, it was Rigney at the helm, returning to his home in the Bay area.

That season he brought the team to a 3rd place finish, over .500 at 80- 74. The following season the Giants won three more game but the team still finished in third place, as the rival Dodgers won the World Series, their first championship in Los Angeles. In 1960 after 58 games Rigney was let go after posting a 33-25 record being replaced by Tom Sheehan.

n 1961 he was hired as manager of the expansion Los Angeles Angels, winning the manager of the Year Award in 1962 when he led them to a third place finish going 86-76. The Angels would finish ninth the following year, losing 91 games.

Rigney would remain as their manager into the 1969 season only finishing a best third one more time. He was replaced by Lefty Phillips in early 1969, then moved on to the Giants radio booth.

In 1970 he was hired by the Minnesota Twins, as their manager leading them to an AL Western title, losing to the eventual World Champion Baltimore Orioles in the ALCS.

He remained with the Twins into the 1972 season before being replaced by Frank Quilici. In 1976 Rigney had one more run as manager of the San Francisco Giants finishing in fourth place.

In an 18-season managerial career, Rigney posted a 1239-1321 record (.484) in 2561 games. In the 1980’s he was a broadcaster for the Oakland A’s as well as a front office consultant. Rigney passed away in 2001 at age 83 in Walnut Creek, California.

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