Ex-manager Craft Dies
Houston Chronicle News Services
CONROE -- Harry Craft , whose 58-year baseball career included a stint as the Houston Colt .45s' first manager, died Thursday morning after a long illness. He was 80.
A memorial service for Craft will be held Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Metcalf Funeral Directors chapel, 1401 North Frazier in Conroe.
Craft coached the Colt .45s in their inaugural National League season in 1962, guiding the expansion team to a 64-96 record. He managed the Colt .45s for all of the 1963 season but was fired with 13 games remaining in the 1964 season. He finished with a record of 191-280 as manager of the Colt .45s.
Before coming to Houston, Craft managed the Kansas City Athletics of the American League, posting an overall 162-196 mark. He also managed the Chicago Cubs for 16 games during the 1961 season.
Craft also managed two of baseball's brightest stars -- Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, both of whom went on to become superstars with the New York Yankees.
Mantle started his career under Craft , playing his first two years for him at Independence, Kan., of the Kansas-Oklahoma-Missouri League in 1949 and with the Joplin, Mo., club of the Western Association in 1950.
"I was lucky to have Harry as skipper my first two years," Mantle said years later. "He started me out right."
Maris played for Craft at Kansas City in 1958 and 1959 and credited Craft for helping him develop as a hitter.
Craft later served as a talent scout for several major-league teams, finally retiring in 1991.
Craft 's baseball career also included six years as a player with the Cincinnati Reds. As an outfielder from 1937-42, Craft hit .253 and played on two World Series teams.
Craft is survived by his wife, Nell, daughter Carole, son Tom, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
The family asks that a donation be made to the American Diabetes Foundation in lieu of flowers.