The Chicago Cubs made a wise choice hiring former catcher David Ross, adding to the list of current managers with ties to the Boston Red Sox.
Ross is an excellent choice to replace Joe Maddon, who was let go by the Cubs and hired by the Los Angeles Angels last week. He’ll bring a different style to the dugout from the quirky Maddon but one many Cubs players will be familiar with from his time as the team’s backup catcher for the final two seasons of his playing career.
While he spent the majority of his career in a backup role with dwindling playing time in his advanced years, Ross was long viewed as a grizzled veteran who teammates could lean on for advice or the occasional kick in the rear. These traits led those around him to believe he’d make a great manager one day.
Cubs star third baseman Kris Bryant echoed those sentiments before he knew Ross would be hired as his next manager, per ESPN.
"“I’ve always looked at Rossy as a coach when he played here,” Bryant said in late September. “Yeah, it was goofy, it was fun, it was energetic, but when he needed to tell you something, he let you hear it. From the very get-go, I felt like this guy will be a manager someday.”"
We can imagine that Jon Lester is pleased with the decision. The lefty has a long history with Ross, who often worked as his personal catcher during their time together with the Red Sox and Cubs. Ross has been behind the plate for 89 of Lester’s career starts. Only Jason Varitek (91) has caught Lester in more games, although Ross has the edge in total innings with 578 2/3 to Tek’s 546 1/3.
Ross’ last official career at-bat was a solo home run in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series to give the Cubs a 6-3 lead. It wasn’t the game-winner but it proved vital in a game that went to extra innings where the Cubs won it in the 10th to capture their first championship in over a century.
He also played a pivotal role during Boston’s championship run in 2013. Ross took over as the starting catcher for the final three games of the World Series when Jarrod Saltalamacchia‘s struggles behind the plate became a liability. Ross helped settle down the pitching staff and the Red Sox ended up winning all four World Series games that he started at catcher.
Ross’ history with the Red Sox dates back to a brief eight-game stint in 2008. He returned to Boston for the 2013 and 2014 seasons before moving on to the Cubs to wrap up his career. Ross played for seven different teams in 15 years, winning a ring in each of his last two stops.
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Ross joins a long list of current MLB managers with ties to the Red Sox organization. Oakland’s Bob Melvin, Texas’ Chris Woodward, and Minnesota’s Rocco Baldelli each spent one season playing for the Red Sox. Tampa Bay’s Kevin Cash (2007) and Los Angeles’ Dave Roberts (2004) both won a ring while playing in Boston. Cleveland’s Terry Francona won two titles as manager of the Red Sox (2004, 2007) and Arizona’s Torey Lovullo was an assistant coach when the Red Sox won in 2013. Of course, there’s also the current Red Sox manager, Alex Cora, who won a championship as a rookie manager last year and as a player in 2007.
Not all former Red Sox find success as a manager. Gabe Kapler, who played four seasons in Boston and won a ring in 2004, was recently fired by the Philadelphia Phillies after two seasons.
We should expect Ross to fare better in Chicago. While the Cubs missed the postseason this year, they have a roster built to win. Expectations will be high but Ross has proven he can thrive under pressure. He doesn’t have coaching experience but he was always a leader in the clubhouse who was able to communicate well with teammates and he has a brilliant baseball mind.
Ross was practically an extra assistant coach during his time with the Red Sox and Cubs so it should be a smooth transition into the manager’s seat.