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Tom McGraw pissed...

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by Major, May 1, 2002.

  1. Major

    Major Member

    Jun 28, 1999
    Likes Received:

    <I>Former Astros hitting coach Tom McCraw on Tuesday accused his former boss, Astros general manager Gerry Hunsicker, of spreading negative stories that McCraw believes kept him from getting another job in baseball after his dismissal midway through the 2000 season.

    McCraw, back in town in his new job as hitting coach of the Montreal Expos, said he planned to "confront" Hunsicker about the matter if the two men cross paths during a three-game series that began Tuesday night at Astros Field.

    Meanwhile, Hunsicker flatly and emphatically denied he bad-mouthed McCraw, adding he'd be happy to speak to him.

    "No, it's not true," Hunsicker said. "I'm both shocked and disappointed that Tom would say something like that, especially without talking to me. I've known Tom McCraw a long time and have always respected him. I'm the reason he came here."

    McCraw believes otherwise.

    "They put some pretty nasty words out about me," he said. "I think Hunsicker blackballed me. The rap was that I had trouble with the bottle, slept in the dugout and was lazy."

    Asked if he believed McCraw had a problem with drinking or work ethic, Hunsicker said: "No, and I'm not even going to dignify that comment with a remark."

    McCraw, when asked why he believed Hunsicker had criticized him within the industry, said he was puzzled as to why but is convinced it happened.

    "I'd interview someplace, and people would tell me they couldn't hire me because I had too much baggage," McCraw said. "I'd ask, `What are you talking about?' They said they heard from high sources in the Houston organization that I had some problems. Who else could that be?

    "I just have to say something to him. I'm not going to be able to sleep at night until I confront him. I just want to know why. It hurt me. It's fine to get fired. I've been fired before. But for Gerry to go to that level bothers me. He brought me here from New York. He called me up and said, `I need some help down here.' He said he wanted someone he could trust.

    "I come down here, and we score more runs than we'd ever scored in our history for the next two or three years. So getting fired surprised me. What happened after getting fired is what really bothered me."

    Hunsicker and McCraw worked together for the New York Mets in the 1990s. When Larry Dierker was hired as Astros manager in 1997, Hunsicker convinced McCraw to come to Houston.

    During McCraw's tenure, the Astros set a franchise record for runs in back-to-back years, scoring 777 in 1997 and 874 in 1998, when they were second in the National League in hitting.

    But when the club fell out of contention during the 2000 season, Hunsicker fired McCraw and pitching coach Vern Ruhle on June 23 and named Harry Spilman and Burt Hooton to replace them.

    At the time of the change, Hunsicker told reporters the ballclub "might benefit from a fresh approach. It's too bad that Vern and Mac are casualties in this, but in no way is this an insinuation that they are the reason we are where we are."

    McCraw said he has not spoken to Hunsicker since the firing. McCraw visited the clubhouse when the Astros played at Florida late in the 2000 season but didn't speak to his former boss.

    "I went down there to see some of the guys and say hello," McCraw said. "He just walked right by me and ignored me. I thought that was a little strange at the time."

    Recalling the day of the firing, McCraw said: "Gerry said, `When this all blows over, and you want a job in uniform or out of uniform, you've got it.' Those were his words. I haven't heard from him since then."

    Hunsicker confirmed he offered McCraw a job in the organization at the time of the firing but said he didn't issue an open-ended offer.

    McCraw, who also had successful stints as the hitting coach with the Orioles, Mets and Giants before coming to Houston, said he interviewed for some jobs in 2001 but failed to land any of them.

    He eventually joined Major League Baseball as an assistant to his buddy Frank Robinson, who was in charge of on-the-field discipline and other matters. When Robinson was asked to manage the Expos shortly before the start of spring training, he asked McCraw to be his hitting coach.

    "I've been fired before," McCraw said. "It's almost like a badge of honor in this game. I just want to talk to Gerry about the other stuff. Why would he do that? There's no reason.

    "If you've got a problem with the bottle in a 43-year career, you're going to miss a meeting, you're going to miss a plane or a bus. You can't sleep in the dugout. If you do that now, those cameras are going to catch it. The teams I've coached have all had success. To be a lazy guy, there's been a lot of success."
  2. Drewdog

    Drewdog Contributing Member

    Dec 19, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Damn.... dude went agro on Hunsicker. Its tough to tell who is telling the truth here..... Maybe McGraw is just a bitter old man....
  3. RunninRaven

    RunninRaven Contributing Member
    Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2000
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    While McGraw may very well be right here (I seriously doubt it), he has made a LOT of assumptions about who did what before he went to the press. Seems to me like this is the kind of thing you talk to reporters about only after you know for certain who said what. Just making general accusations against the general manager of a team (especially one of Gerry Hunsicker's reputation) is ridiculously irresponsible when he doesn't have all the facts.

    Maybe he was drunk or asleep when he made these quotes... ;)
  4. Puedlfor

    Puedlfor Contributing Member

    May 30, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Having met Gerry Hunsicker several times, if this story is true, I would be flabbergasted. It's completely, and totally out of character.

    It would be akin to Scott Boras champining the owners side of things in a labor dispute.
  5. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

    Sep 19, 1999
    Likes Received:

    wholeheartedly agreed!!! I think McGraw was irresponsible for talking about this through the press BEFORE talking about it with Gerry. Apparently they had a little meeting yesterday and the air was cleared among them.

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