Royals Name Mizerock Interim Manager

Tuesday, April 30th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DETROIT (AP) _ Bullpen coach John Mizerock was promoted to interim manager Tuesday by the Kansas City Royals, whose firing of Tony Muser raised the majors' total to a record four in the season's first month.

Muser, the losingest manager in team history, was told of the decision by general manager Allard Baird early Tuesday. His firing came after the Royals (8-15) beat the Tigers 4-0 Monday night. Muser was in the final year of his contract.

``Everybody understands the circumstances, the mood of our fans,'' Muser told The Associated Press.

``They need a change,'' he said. ``It's just a part of this business. Managers are hired to be fired. I understand it, and life goes on. The most important thing is the success of the organization.''

The 41-year-old Mizerock is in his 11th season with the Royals, but his first with the major league club as bullpen coach. He had a record of 646-554 in nine seasons as a minor league manager at every level of the organization.

Mizerock was a catcher for parts of four seasons, three with Houston and one with Atlanta. He managed rookie league in Eugene, Ore., in 1992-93; Class A Midwest League in Rockford in 1994, Class AA Texas League at Wichita in 1999. He won league titles in 1996 at Class A Wilmington and in 1999 in Wichita.

Muser was 317-431 (.424) since taking over midway through the 1997 season. He has the lowest winning percentage of anyone who has managed at least one full season with the team.

Since 1900, there had never been more than two managers fired in the season's first month, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Phil Garner was let go by Detroit on April 9, Milwaukee fired Davey Lopes on April 18, and Colorado fired Buddy Bell last Friday. All four teams have seen large attendance drops. The Royals are down about 4,500 a game through 14 home dates.

Boston fired Joe Kerrigan during spring training.

Muser, who was ejected in the third inning Monday night, did not learn of his dismissal until he got back to his hotel room about midnight and called Baird.

``It was very, very emotional. It was very difficult for Allard,'' Muser said. ``I respect Allard Baird as much as I respect any man I've ever met in baseball.''

With the Royals off to another poor start, Muser faced a torrent of criticism from fans and media. A 2-7 homestand that ended with a three-game sweep by Baltimore on Sunday gave the Royals a league-worst 4-10 home record.

``It's a business, very competitive,'' Muser said. ``These things happen. I'm not ashamed. I did the best I could possibly do, and life goes on. I'm a baseball guy and I'm proud of it. I wish this organization the best.''

Muser was fired after the Royals beat the Tigers in one of their finest efforts of the season, with Jeff Suppan throwing a two-hitter.

The Royals haven't had a winning record since the strike-shortened 1994 season.

Saddled with one of the major leagues' lowest payrolls and weak pitching, Muser's teams struggled in one-run games, going just 69-115 and losing a franchise-record 97 games in 1999 and 2001.

Hired off the Chicago Cubs' staff to replace Bob Boone during the 1997 All-Star break, Muser's best season was 72-89 in 1998.

The Royals, who have traded many of their best players in recent years, are second-to-last in the AL with a 5.58 ERA and 12th in runs scored with 104.

Kansas City entered this season with a $47.3 million payroll, eighth-lowest in baseball.