Garner with the Astros in 2006
|Second baseman / Third baseman / Manager|
|Born: April 30, 1949|
Jefferson City, Tennessee
|September 10, 1973, for the Oakland Athletics|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 2, 1988, for the San Francisco Giants|
|Runs batted in||738|
|Career highlights and awards|
Philip Mason Garner (born April 30, 1949) is an American former professional baseball player and manager. He played in Major League Baseball as an infielder with the Oakland Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants from 1973 to 1988. He was manager of the Astros from July 14, 2004 to August 27, 2007, leading Houston to a World Series appearance in 2005.
Garner was originally drafted by the Montreal Expos in the eighth round of the 1970 Major League Baseball draft, but did not sign. Seven months later, he was the third overall pick by the Oakland Athletics in the secondary January 1971 draft. Originally a third baseman when he signed with the Athletics, he was converted to a second baseman as the Athletics had perennial All-Star Sal Bando at third. Garner won two World Series during his time in Oakland in 1973 and 1974. Spending most of his time as a bench player and in the minor leagues. He had a break out year for Oakland in 1976 in which he hit 8 home runs and 74 RBI's that year. He was named an All Star that year the first of his career. He stole a career high 35 bases that year.
Nicknamed "Scrap-Iron" due to his gritty style of play, Garner's best year as a player was in 1977 when he hit 17 HR's, had 77 RBI's, stole 32 bases, hit 35 doubles, and scored 99 runs. Two years later in 1979, he was a member of the World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates, batting .417 in the 1979 National League Championship Series and .500 (12 for 24) in the World Series. His icon at the time was the scrappy, similarly-mustachioed cartoon hero, Yosemite Sam. He was named an All Star again in 1980 batting .259 while hitting 5 home runs and 58 RBI's while stealing 32 bases. He was named an All Star again for a third and final time in his career the next season in 1981 though his stats declined from previous years. He hit just 1 home run while having 26 RBI's on the year and had just 10 stolen bases.
On August 31, 1981, Garner was traded from the Pirates to the Astros for second baseman Johnny Ray and pitcher Randy Niemann. He would play with Houston until 1987. He helped the Astros reach the 1986 NLCS where they lost in six games to New York Mets this would be his final postseason action he would see of his career. He was traded in 1987 to the Los Angeles Dodgers and then spent a year with San Francisco Giants in 1988. He went through 1989 without signing with anybody and announced his retirement a year later in 1990.
In 1992, Garner replaced Tom Trebelhorn as manager of the Brewers. He quickly installed a running-focused style of play as every starter that year stole at least 10 bases. Standing out were 1992 AL Rookie of the Year Pat Listach who stole 54 bases, veteran Paul Molitor stealing 31, and outfielder Darryl Hamilton stealing 41. This gave the 1992 Brewers a 2nd-place finish in the competitive AL East but Garner's teams in later seasons in Milwaukee would not finish at .500.
During a July 22, 1995 game against the Chicago White Sox, Garner was involved in a bench-clearing brawl, exchanging blows with White Sox manager Terry Bevington in a rare skipper-on-skipper fistfight. Garner, along with Bevington, was suspended four games for the fracas.
In 2000, Garner was hired to manage the Tigers, in their inaugural season at Comerica Park. The Tigers were in contention for the American League Wild Card berth for much of the season, but faded and finished 79-83. Garner didn't manage a winning season in his years in Detroit, and when his 2002 team began the season 0-6, he and general manager Randy Smith were fired.
The 2004 season was different for Garner. After the Houston Astros had a slow start under then-manager Jimy Williams, Garner was brought in mid-season to replace Williams and led the Astros to a National League Wild Card berth, eventually losing in seven games to St. Louis in the National League Championship Series. The team experienced another slow start in 2005 but made a run once again late in the season and came back to win another National League Wild Card. This time, Houston would beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series in six games and win the pennant only to be swept by the Chicago White Sox in the World Series.
Under his leadership in the last 12 games of the 2006 season, the Astros won 10 and lost 2 putting them a game and half behind the Division winners. Garner's contract was extended through the end of the 2008 season by the Astros. As manager of a pennant winning team the year before, Garner managed the 2006 National League All-Star Team in Pittsburgh on July 11 2006. Garner cites Chuck Tanner, his manager during his time with the Pirates, as one of his biggest coaching influences.
In 1860 games over 16 seasons, Garner posted a .260 batting average (1594-for-6136) with 780 runs, 299 doubles, 82 triples, 109 home runs, 738 RBI, 225 stolen bases, 564 bases on balls, .323 on-base percentage and .389 slugging percentage. He finished his career with an overall .965 fielding percentage playing at second and third base and shortstop. In 21 postseason games, he batted .309 (21-for-68) with 10 runs, 5 doubles, 1 triple, 1 home run, 8 RBI and 8 walks.
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In 2008, Phil Garner served as interim head coach for the UHV Jaguars baseball team of the University of Houston-Victoria. Garner temporarily replaced former Astros teammate Terry Puhl while he fulfilled his obligation as manager of the Canada National baseball team.
Garner has been involved in some of the longest post-season games in the history of baseball.