Despite having zero managerial experience, Robin Ventura had a successful debut with the Chicago White Sox.
One of three Major League managers with Oklahoma ties, Ventura had the White Sox in first place in the AL Central for 117 days, including much of the second half of the season before fading down the stretch.
A former All-Star third baseman who compiled an NCAA Division I-record 58-game hitting streak at Oklahoma State, Ventura led the White Sox to an 85-77 finish, three games behind Detroit.
The defending AL champion Tigers are the overwhelming favorite, but Ventura, 44, raised expectations. The White Sox are projected to contend for a wild-card berth.
It's been years since the Boston Red Sox faced a rebuilding phase. But that's the situation former OSU pitcher John Farrell inherits in Boston after a disastrous 69-93 finish under Bobby Valentine.
Farrell, 50, must shed the pitching coach-turned-manager label, but he has two years experience with Toronto. Under Farrell, the Blue Jays finished 154-170, including 81-81 his first season.
The Red Sox thought so much of Farrell they traded shortstop Mike Aviles to Toronto to acquire Farrell, a former Red Sox pitching coach. The organization targeted Farrell as Terry Francona's heir apparent but couldn't persuade the Jays to release him two years ago.
A year later, Farrell inherits a team that experienced a historic collapse in Francona's final season (2011), followed by last year's meltdown under Valentine. Farrell's intelligent approach is expected to lay the foundation for a revival, even if the actual revival begins in 2014.
Ron Gardenhire, an Okmulgee product, has led the Minnesota Twins to six AL Central titles in 11 seasons as Minnesota's manager. Gardenhire is 932-851 overall, but the last two seasons have been a major disappointment.
The small market Twins lost an AL-worst 96 games last year after finishing with AL-worst 99 losses the year before. This season isn't projected to be much better.
In the final year of his contract, Gardenhire declined to sign an extension. Speculation is “Gardy” would like to manage an organization that has more resources or could consider retiring at age 55.