Tanner is best known for guiding the Pittsburgh Pirates to their last World Series title in 1979. This was the “We Are Family” Pirates which included the likes of the late Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, Omar Moreno, Kent Tekulve and the Cooperstown bound Bert Blyleven.
The Pirates hired Tanner in a most unusual way. Prior to the 1977 season, Oakland A’s owner Charlie Finley offered Tanner’s services along with $100,000 to the Pirates in exchange for catcher Manny Sanguillen. Ironically, the A’s would trade Sanguillen back to Pittsburgh the following season and would earn a World Series ring with the rest of the family in 1979.
Tanner would remain with the Bucs through the 1985 season although they never replicated their triumph of ’79. He then managed the Atlanta Braves for three forgettable seasons. Prior to managing in Pittsburgh, Tanner had also managed the Chicago White Sox from 1970-1975 and the A’s during the ’76 season. In all, Tanner managed in the big leagues for nearly two decades. Tanner also played in the big leagues for eight seasons as an outfielder with the Milwaukee Braves, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians and the Los Angeles Angels.
In more recent years, Tanner had worked in the front office of the Indians before returning to Pittsburgh in 2007 as a special advisor to Pirates GM Neal Huntington.
Tanner was held in high regard by his players. Former big league infielder Mike Andrews said of Tanner in a 2002 interview, “If you couldn’t play for Chuck Tanner you couldn’t play for anybody.” Andrews, who now serves as the Chairman of the Jimmy Fund, also described Tanner as “the most positive person I have ever met.”
As Ronald Reagan said, “Not bad. Not bad at all.”