Generally excellent

Pat Gillick was front-office whiz behind three World Series champions

November 19, 2010
In 27 seasons as a big league general manager, Pat Gillick led his team to a winning season 20 times.

Watch a video on the Expansion Era Ballot

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Pat Gillick built it – again and again and again.

And at every stop, they came: Victories, fans and championships.

Gillick, who spent 27 years as the general manager of the Blue Jays, Orioles, Mariners and Phillies, is one of 12 finalists on this year's Expansion Era ballot that will be considered by the committee on managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The 16-person committee will vote on Dec. 5 at baseball's Winter Meetings in Orlando, and the results of the vote will be announced Dec. 6.

The 12 candidates on the ballot are: Vida Blue, Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Ron Guidry, Tommy John, Billy Martin, Marvin Miller, Al Oliver, Ted Simmons, Rusty Staub, George Steinbrenner and Gillick. Any candidate who receives at least 75 percent of all ballots cast will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2011.

The committee consists of Hall of Fame members Johnny Bench, Whitey Herzog, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Frank Robinson, Ryne Sandberg and Ozzie Smith; major league executives Bill Giles (Phillies), David Glass (Royals), Andy MacPhail (Orioles) and Jerry Reinsdorf (White Sox); and veteran media members Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun), Tim Kurkjian (ESPN), Ross Newhan (retired, Los Angeles Times) and Tom Verducci (Sports Illustrated).

Born Aug. 22, 1937, in Chico, Calif., Gillick – the son of minor league pitcher Larry Gillick and actress Thelma Daniels – began his baseball career as a left-handed pitcher. He was a member of the University of Southern California team that won the College World Series in 1958, and he pitched for five seasons in the Orioles' minor league system.

"He had a major league curveball and was a fierce competitor," said former USC coach Rod Dedeaux. "But also he was a student of the game... Very astute in many fields besides baseball."

Gillick retired as a player in 1963 when he became the assistant farm director for the Houston Colt 45's. After scouting for the Astros for several years, Gillick was hired as the Yankees' scouting director in 1974, then became the Blue Jays assistant general manager just prior to their inaugural season of 1977. In Toronto, Gillick quickly ascended to the general manager's role in 1978 – building the Jays into a powerhouse over the course of the next seven seasons. In 1985, Toronto won its first American League East title, followed up with two more division crowns in 1989 and 1991 and won back-to-back World Series championships in 1993 and 1993.

From 1983-93, the Blue Jays won at least 86 games every season.

"Baseball players take a long time to develop," said Gillick, who once went almost two years without making a trade. "People believe they cannot afford to be patient, (but) I think it pays off."

After leaving the Blue Jays following the 1994 season, Gillick took over as the Orioles' general manager in 1996 and led Baltimore to two straight American League Championship Series appearances. He left Baltimore following the 1998 season before landing with the Mariners in 2000, orchestrating four winning seasons and ALCS appearances in both 2000 and 2001 as general manager.

"Pat has an exceptional memory – able to memorize flight numbers, phone books," said former Astros executive Tal Smith of Gillick, who acquired the nickname "Wolley Segap" – Yellow Pages spelled backwards – for his ability to memorize the phone book. "But intelligence can only take you so far. Pat has succeeded because of two other factors: His perseverance and people skills."

After a three-year break from the top spot, Gillick returned as the Phillies' general manager in 2006. Two years later, the Phillies gave Gillick his third World Series title as a general manager.

In 27 seasons as a general manager, Gillick's teams advanced to the postseason 11 times and finished with 20 winning records.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum