Aaron Boone and the Yankees have gotten off to a slow start. Or at least, it’s a slow start compared to what fans might have hoped for. Whether or not it’s fair to actually blame Boone himself, there have certainly been comments from fans and some media about his decision making so far. Whether you’re already questioning the hire or have no qualms so far, just remember that it could always be worse.
After a second place finish in 1910 and a .500 record in 1911, the Highlanders looked to be on the verge of a contending team in 1912. They brought in Harry Wolverton to manage, who was had turned around a bottom-feeding Oakland Oaks team in a contender in the Pacific Coast League.
The hope of the new season and new manager then immediately went away. The Highlanders lost the first six games of the season, and were outscored 36-18. They got their first win in their seventh game, then lost four more out of their next five. The Highlanders ended April with a 2-10 record, already 7.5 games out of first. Not shockingly, they lost over 100 games and Wolverton was not brought back.
Hopes were again high the very next year when Frank Chance was hired. Chance was a two-time World Series winning manager with the Cubs, and the Yankees still had a decent amount of talent. After spring training in Bermuda, the potential of a good team was still there. Then the Yankees promptly had a worse start than the year before.
New York dropped the first two games of the season, before winning the third 3-2 over the Red Sox. That win would be one of just two they had in their first 17 games. The Yankees started 1912 with 2-10 record, but started 1913 with a dreadful 2-15 mark. They were averaged just 2.6 runs per game! By the time May was over, they were already 18.5 games out of first place.
One other managerial career got off a worse start from that era than either of those two. In 1908, the Highlanders got off to a 24-32 start when they decided to get rid of Clark Griffith. He had taken the Highlanders to two second place finishes, but after a fall out with ownership and a slow start, Griffith was canned and replaced with shortstop Kid Elberfeld.
Elderfeld’s first game actually went well. They tied with the Philadelphia Athletics, because that was still a thing then. They won his third and fifth games in charge, but that’s when things started to go really bad. Within his first 20 games in charge, Elberfeld’s Highlanders had both six and seven-game losing streaks.
In exactly one month in charge, Elberfeld managed to double the amount of games back of first the Highlanders were. They were 10 back on June 23rd after Griffith’s last game, and 20.5 back on July 23rd. That was right near the start of a 12-game losing streak, after which, they were a further eight games out of first. Elberfeld did not get a second season as manager.
Now you’re probably thinking “well those were all bad teams, of course they didn’t start great.” The 1930 Yankees did not win the World Series, but were still a good team. They, and their new manager Bob Shawkey, still had a pretty bad first couple weeks.
The Yankees brought in Shawkey to manage in 1930 after Miller Huggins’ death in 1929. It’s not shocking that a team still mourning the death of their manager would get off to a slow start, and the Yankees did. They lost their first five games and then needed a late comeback to finally get a win in their sixth.
Shawkey and the Yankees started the season 3-8, already seven games back of first. They rebounded by going a combined 39-17 in May and June, and got back within two games. A sub-.500 July in which they had to play 35 games tanked any chances they had to get back in the race, though. Shawkey was not brought back after the season. Considering that he was replaced by Joe McCarthy, it was probably the right call.
The 5-5 start may not be what Aaron Boone or anyone else was looking for. That said, if a family member, or cab driver, or some random person in bar starts yelling about how bad he is, just know it could be worse.