Gene Mauch (November 18, 1925 - August 8, 2005) was an American Major League Baseball player and manager, and the holder of the record for most seasons managed without a pennant (breaking the record formerly held by Jimmy Dykes). He managed the Philadelphia Phillies (1960-68), the Montreal Expos (1969-75, Mauch was their inaugural manager), the Minnesota Twins (1976-80), and the California Angels (1981-82, 1985-87).
Born in Salina, Kansas, Mauch was a strong advocate of "little ball", or an emphasis on basic fundamentals such as bunting, sacrifice plays, and other ways of advancing runners, as opposed to trying to score runs primarily through slugging. His teams generally played in ballparks which were not friendly to home run hitters, which increased the effectiveness of this approach. While his teams occasionally featured power hitters such as Dick Allen, Rusty Staub and Reggie Jackson, they depended just as heavily on hitters adept at getting on base through contact hitting and patience at the plate, such as Rod Carew, and on strong defensive play by such stars as Bobby Grich and Bob Boone.
Mauch came excruciatingly close to the World Series on three occasions. In 1964, his Phillies had a 6-game lead in the National League at the end of August with 10 games left to play, but Mauch decided to use only his two aces (Jim Bunning and Chris Short) for those last 10 games. Both ended up tiring and the Phillies faded in the last weeks of the season to finish one game behind the St. Louis Cardinals in a phenomenon infamously known as the "Phold." In 1982, his Angels team won the American League's Western Division, and won the first two games in a best-of-5 ALCS against the Milwaukee Brewers, but Milwaukee came back to win three straight games and the AL pennant. And in 1986, the Angels again won the Western title, and led in the fifth game of the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox, just one strike away from the Fall Classic - but Boston's Dave Henderson hit a home run off Angels reliever Donnie Moore to put the Red Sox ahead. The Red Sox went on to win that game in extra innings and the remaining two games to take the Series, denying Mauch in his last real chance to win a pennant.
Several years after retiring as manager, Mauch returned in 1995 as bench coach with the Kansas City Royals to assist Boone, who was in his first year as a big league skipper.
Mauch also played parts of nine seasons from 1944 to 1957 with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, Boston Braves, St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox. In 304 games and 737 at-bats, Mauch hit .239, with 5 home runs and 62 RBIs, striking out 82 times.
Mauch died at age 79 at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California from lung cancer.