McKeon Accepts Extension With Reds
CINCINNATI (AP) _ Jack McKeon, who managed the Cincinnati Reds to the threshold of the National League playoffs, accepted a one-year contract extension today that was less than he’d expected.
McKeon, who will be 69 next month, had hoped for a multiyear deal after the Reds won 96 games, their best total since the days of the Big Red Machine during the mid-1970s.
The Reds offered only a one-year deal that improved slightly on the approximately $500,000 he made last season. After several days of discussions, he accepted rather than walk away from managing.
``The Reds organization is pleased that Jack will be returning for 2000,″ chief operating officer John Allen said. ``His dedication to the major league club and to our player development plans were an important part of our success in 1999.″
McKeon replaced Ray Knight during the 1997 season and got one-year deals for the next two years, when the Reds were in the midst of a full-scale rebuilding.
The Reds were one of the biggest surprises in baseball this season, contending despite a $35 million payroll that was only half as large as the payrolls of some competitors.
McKeon’s easy-going style allowed the Reds’ young lineup to flourish. He gave coach Don Gullett control of the pitching staff, and the Reds managed to get by with an unreliable rotation.
The Reds were in line to make the playoffs as the NL wild card until losing three of their last four games, resulting in a tie with the New York Mets. The Reds lost a one-game playoff with the Mets.
General manager Jim Bowden touted McKeon as NL Manager of the Year and assured that he’d return for 2000. The Reds had to wait to make McKeon an offer until a new ownership group took over for Marge Schott this month.
Although McKeon was initially unhappy with the offer made last Friday, he had few alternatives. He wasn’t a candidate for any of the other managerial openings.