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Brewers Fire Manager Garner

Phil Garner was fired as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers today in the midst of the team's seventh straight losing season.

Hitting coach Jim Lefebvre replaced him on an interim basis.

General manager Sal Bando was reassigned in the start of a total overhaul of the perennial losers.

"We all know that we weren't getting it done," said team president Wendy Selig-Prieb, the daughter of baseball commissioner Bud Selig. "We're all frustrated. We're all disappointed."

Bando hired Garner, his former teammate, shortly after becoming the Brewers' GM in October 1991.

Milwaukee dropped to 52-60 after an 8-5 defeat by Colorado on Wednesday and has the second-lowest attendance in the National League.

The only manager who survived more consecutive losing seasons with one team than Garner is Connie Mack, who did it twice with the Philadelphia Athletics.

"Phil has been a class act though all our troubles," Selig-Prieb said.

Bobby Cox of Atlanta, Cleveland's Mike Hargrove and Tom Kelly of Minnesota are the only managers who have been with their teams longer than Garner, both the winningest and losingest manager in Brewers history.

Selig-Prieb said she will hire a general manager and the GM will hire the next manager. Selig-Prieb did not set any timetables.

Until a new GM is found, Selig-Prieb and assistant GM Fred Stanley will be responsible for the Brewers' baseball decisions.

"I hadn't made a decision at the All-Star break," she said when asked about the timing of today's moves. "We want to focus on the last six weeks of the season."

Lefebvre was the only member of Garner's coaching staff with previous managerial experience. Lefebvre has ample experience with mediocre clubs, compiling a 395-414 record as manager of the Seattle Mariners from 1989-91 and the Chicago Cubs the following two years.

Lefebvre, hired as the Brewers' batting coach last August during a shakeup of the coaching staff, was signed as manager only through the rest of the season. Garner's contract was due to expire at the end of the year.

Phil Garner is the winningest manager in Brewers history.  <b>
Phil Garner is the winningest manager in Brewers history. (AP)

Milwaukee, which didn't play Thursday, starts a road trip Friday at Arizona. The Brewers, who wet 4-8 on a 12-game homestand that ended Wednesday, reached .500 five times this season, but failed each time to get above the mark.

Bando, who will remain in the front office as a special assistant to Selig-Prieb, signed a three-year contract extension last October despite the team's lack of improvement. Milwaukee was 92-70 during the pairs' first year in 1992, but hasn't finished above .500 since then.

Bando's biggest free-agent gambles of the last offseason turned into busts. Pitcher Jim Abbott was ineffective and retired from baseball last month, while infielder Sean Berry is hitting .232 and has been benched for long periods.

Garner leaves with a 563-617 record. He was hired in October 1991 with no previous managing experience, and was runner-up for the AL Manager of the Year award in 1992.

He had a 15-year playing career as an infielder for Oakland, Pittsburgh, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. He retired in 1988 and spent three years on Houston manager Art Howe's coaching staff before succeeding Tom Trebelhorn in Milwaukee.

With his outgoing personality and soft Texas drawl, Garner was a favorite among Brewers' fans, and he was active in charity concerns off the field.

Garner is well-respected in baseball and likely will be a strong candidate for another managerial job next season. Bando co-owns a successful venture capital company in Milwaukee.

Bando played 16 seasons with the Athletics and the Brewers as a third baseman.

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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