Larry Rothschild

Rothschild spent ten years lingering as a pitcher in the minor leagues for the Reds’ and Tigers’ organizations. Twice he was summoned to the majors by the Detroit Tigers during September call-ups, both times at the behest of Jim Leyland, his manager in the minors. The first batter Rothschild faced in the majors was Joe Charboneau, who grounded a sure double-play ball back to the mound with the bases loaded. But Rothschild muffed the ball when his new hat fell in his eyes and could only get an out at first.

Rothschild left the playing field in 1985 to become a minor-league coach for the Reds. In 1990, he was promoted to the majors as the Reds’ bullpen coach, and after two years was named as the team’s pitching coach under manager Lou Piniella.

Under Rothschild’s supervision the ’92 Reds staff — featuring Jose RijoTim BelcherGreg Swindell, and Scott Bankhead (each of whom had over 10 wins) as well as intimidating closers Rob Dibble (25 saves) and Norm Charlton (26 saves) — led the team to a 90-win season, good for a second place finish in the NL West. However, at the end of the year Piniella was replaced by Tony Perez, who was fired along with Rothschild and the rest of his coaching staff after struggling early in the ’93 season.

Rothschild spent a year coaching in the Braves’ minor-league system and was then hired by Leyland’s Florida Marlins, entrusted with a young, inexperienced pitching staff. Soon, Marlins owner H. Wayne Huizenga’s spending spree brought veterans Al Leiter and Kevin Brown to south Florida, and the team unexpectedly won the World Series in 1997 after making the playoffs as a wild-card team.

Florida’s success was due in no small part to Rothschild’s strong pitching staff, which rose to the occasion after the loss of veteran Alex Fernandez. Untested rookie Livan Hernandez filled in admirably, winning two World Series games and being named the Series MVP in the process.

Although Huizenga dismantled his World Champions after the Series to cut costs, shedding key pitchers Brown, Leiter, and closer Robb Nen, Rothschild didn’t have to deal with the Marlins’ decimated pitching staff in ’98. Instead, after a lengthy search he was hired as the first manager of the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays, rejoining GM Chuck LaMar, who had also worked for the Reds in the late ’80s.

Even the Devil Rays lost 99 and 93 games in their first two seasons, team management was satisfied enough with Rothschild’s performance to reward him with a one-year contract extension at the end of the ’99 season. But despite the addition of sluggers Greg Vaughn (via free-agency) and Vinny Castilla (as part of a three-team deal from Colorado) Tampa Bay lost 92 games, leading to Rothschild’s dismissal early in the 2001 season.