By Craig Muder
Pat Gillick has spent a lifetime on the telephone, wheeling and dealing as one of baseball’s best general managers.
But when the call of a lifetime came on Monday, Gillick was left somewhat speechless.
Gillick, a three-time World Series-winning general manager, appeared genuinely moved and more than a little stunned after learning he had been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. In his debut on the Hall’s ballot that considers executives, Gillick received 13 of 16 votes (81.25 percent) to clear the 75-percent threshold necessary for induction.
He joins a ridiculously select group of men elected to the Hall of Fame whose primary job was general manager. The others: Branch Rickey, who invented the farm system and integrated the majors; Ed Barrow, who built the first Yankees dynasty in the 1920s; and George Weiss, who created and maintained the Yankees dynasty that won 15 American League pennants and 10 World Series championships between 1947 and 1964.
“I’m just thrilled that (the Committee) decided to elect me,” Gillick said. “I was honored just to be on the ballot.”
Gillick’s voice cracked with emotion repeatedly during Monday’s press conference. He thanked everyone from the scouts to the media, deflecting credit to those around him.
It was Gillick, however, who brought the front-office leadership to the Blue Jays, Orioles, Mariners and Phillies — leadership that resulted in 20 winning seasons in his 27 seasons as general manager. Of his seven losing seasons, five came in his first five years with the Jays when they were a fledgling expansion team.
After the press conference, Gillick spent more time on the phone — this time with media from around the nation. He looked completely at ease, as if he was simply chatting with another GM while mapping out his next trade. But after more than a half century in baseball, Gillick has earned the right to relax.
His legacy — one of hard work, fair play and championships — is secure in Cooperstown.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.