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Former Cub Coach/Rangers Clubhouse Manager Joe Macko Dies At 86

Macko had a baseball career that spanned six decades.

Joe Macko as depicted in the Cubs' 1964 media guide
Joe Macko as depicted in the Cubs' 1964 media guide

Joe Macko was best known in recent years for being both the home and visiting clubhouse manager for the Texas Rangers, positions he held for nearly 30 years before becoming a roving ambassador for the Rangers organization.

Macko died Friday, aged 86, and this article details Macko's long tenure in the minor leagues, partly in Cubs organization, in the 1950s and 1960s:

After one year of college, he signed with the Indians and began an 18-year Minor League career in 1948 at Batavia in the Class D Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York League. Macko never reached the Major Leagues, but Minor League records show he had 306 career home runs, with a high of 37 in 1956 for San Diego and Dallas.

Macko, who was famous for having huge hands, played mainly first and third base during his Minor League career, but he also pitched in 37 games. He also had three stints as a manager, with Tulsa in 1955, St. Cloud in '61 and Amarillo in '63. He was a player-manager at all three stops.

It was at St. Cloud that he managed [Lou] Brock, who had just signed with the Cubs. Brock had a great first season, winning the Northern League batting title with a .361 batting average along with 117 runs scored and 38 stolen bases. It was Brock's only Minor League season. Macko's 1955 team in Tulsa included outfielder Roger Maris.

Macko was named to the Cubs' infamous College of Coaches in 1964, where he served as a roving minor-league infield instructor and also manager at the Cubs' Northwest League affiliate in Wenatchee (WA). After that he moved to the Dallas area where, when the Rangers arrived in 1972, he began a four-decade-long association with the team.

It's a testament to how poorly the Cubs were run in those days that Macko, a power hitter as noted above, never even got a chance to play briefly in the major leagues. His minor-league record shows him as playing in the Cubs organization from 1957-63 (he was a player-coach/manager for the last three of those seasons). In 1958 he hit .290/.341/.482 with 24 home runs in 504 at-bats at Ft. Worth in the Texas League, then a Double-A franchise. He was 30. There were a lot worse players than that wearing the Cubs' big-league uniform in those days.

There's one more connection Joe Macko has to the Cubs, and that's his son Steve Macko, the Cubs' fifth-round pick out of Baylor in 1977. The younger Macko, a shortstop, had little power but drew lots of walks (.361 lifetime minor-league OBP; the current front office would have liked him!). He got a couple of cups of coffee with the Cubs in 1979 and 1980 but was diagnosed with cancer not long after the 1980 season ended and died about a year later, November 15, 1981. He was just 27.

The Cubs gave Steve Macko a signal honor on their 1981 scorecard. It was never explicitly stated by the team, but the 1981 scorecard, a remake of the 1974 version, showed a sliding baserunner wearing the No. 12 Macko had worn in his brief big-league service in 1979 and 1980 in tribute to him. No other Cub wore No. 12 those years, and it wasn't issued again until 1983.

1981 scorecard

Condolences to the Macko family, who have lost a man dedicated to baseball who lived a long, full life.