Unless you’ve ever been on the inside and worked with him, there’s no way you can appreciate (Schuerholz’s) baseball intelligence
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Born May 27, 1968, in Boston, Bagwell was the Red Sox’s fourth-round draft choice in 1989. He had received little attention as a high school player in Middletown, Conn., but found a place on the University of Hartford squad.
A lifelong Red Sox fan, the trade to the Astros devastated Bagwell – at first. But soon, Bagwell saw the trade as the platform that eventually launched his career.
After his Rookie of the Year season, Bagwell’s power numbers continued to climb before beginning an assault on the record books in 1994. That season, Bagwell hit .368 with 39 homers and 116 RBI in just 110 games in a season that was cut short by a strike, winning the NL Most Valuable Player Award. Suddenly, fans and media alike began to take note of the first baseman – the Astros moved him across the diamond before his big league career even began – with the shoulder-wide batting stance and fearless disposition.
Bagwell continued to put up astounding numbers in the next decade, scoring 100-or-more runs in eight of nine years from 1996-2004 and driving in more than 100 runs seven times in that span. He also averaged better than 113 walks a year during those seasons.
From 1996 through 2001, Bagwell totaled at least 30 home runs, 100 runs scored and 100 RBI per season – making him one of just six players in history (along with Alex Rodriguez, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Babe Ruth and Albert Pujols) to reach those marks in at least six straight years.
The final numbers: a .297 batting average and Houston club records of 449 home runs and 1,529 RBI (good for 49th all-time and just eight behind Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio).
His 1,401 walks rank 28th all-time, and his .408 on-base percentage ranks 39th. Bagwell was selected to four All-Star Games, finished in the top 10 in the National League MVP voting six times, won three Silver Sluggers and also captured a Gold Glove Award in 1994.
In 1991, after 13 years in Montreal, Raines signed with the White Sox as a free agent. After five years on the South Side, Raines went to the Yankees and got a taste of postseason success. Raines helped the Bronx Bombers to World Series Championships in 1996 and 1998.
Six months after signing a free agent contract with the Athletics in 1999, Raines was diagnosed with lupus. He spent the rest of the year and all of 2000 undergoing treatment and recovery.
During his 23-year career, Raines recorded 2,605 hits, 980 RBI and a .294 batting average. He hit better than .320 for three in a row (1985-87) and his 808 stolen bases ranks fifth all-time.
Tim Raines finished his big league career with the highest percentage of stolen bases of any player with 400-plus steals.
In 1992, he won the first of his 13 Gold Glove Awards and appeared in his first All-Star Game. And quickly, his offense caught up with his defense – as he topped the .300 mark in batting average for the first of eight straight years in 1995 while steadily adding power to his repertoire at the plate.
In 1999, Rodríguez put it all together – winning the American League Most Valuable Player Award by hitting .332 with 35 home runs, 113 RBI, 116 runs scored and 25 stolen bases. He became just the eighth catcher in history to post a season with at least 100 runs scored and 100 RBI, something no one has done since.
Rodríguez left the Rangers via free agency following the 2002 season, signing a one-year deal with the Florida Marlins. He proved to be the missing piece in Miami, hitting .297 with 16 homers and 85 RBI to lead Florida into the postseason. With the lights shining brightest, Rodríguez excelled – winning the NLCS MVP and eventually propelling the Marlins to the World Series title.
Two years later, Gorman joined the front office of the expansion Kansas City Royals, and Schuerholz went with him.
“The very first day I started in that job (with the Orioles), my goal was to become a general manager of a Major League Baseball team,” Schuerholz said. “I gave myself five years, after which I would assess where I was in my career – because I felt I could always go back to teaching if I didn’t succeed.”
Five years into his baseball career, Schuerholz was still working for Gorman – helping lay the foundation for the talented Royals teams of the late 1970s that featured homegrown stars Frank White, Al Cowens and future Hall of Famer George Brett. Gorman was named the Royals’ general manager in the fall of 1975, and Schuerholz became the team’s farm director.
Then in early 1976, Gorman left to run the expansion Seattle Mariners – and Schuerholz was promoted to director of scouting and player development for the Royals. In 1979, Schuerholz was named Vice President of Player Personnel.
In 1981, Schuerholz took over for Joe Burke as the Royals’ general manager when Burke was promoted to team president.
“Unless you’ve ever been on the inside and worked with him, there’s no way you can appreciate (Schuerholz’s) baseball intelligence,” said former Braves executive Paul Snyder.
Schuerholz took over a Royals franchise that won four American League West titles in five years (1976-78, 1980) and an AL pennant (1980), but seemed to be in transition. By 1985, Schuerholz had re-tooled much of the team with younger talent – especially pitchers like Bret Saberhagen, Danny Jackson and Bud Black. In 1985, the Royals won their first World Series title – defeating the Cardinals in a classic seven-game battle.
Following the 1985 season, Schuerholz was named the Executive of the Year by the Sporting News.
“I want to be here. I like it here,” said Schuerholz in 1985. “I have a lot of my blood and sweat in this organization.”
But by 1990, Schuerholz – who signed a “lifetime” contract with the Royals in 1985 – was looking for a different challenge. He found one with the Braves, who had posted losing records from 1984-90 and were searching for a new general manager when Bobby Cox went back to the dugout after a stint as GM. Schuerholz immediately helped the Braves go from worst to first, winning the National League pennant in 1991 after finishing last in the NL West the year before.
Schuerholz inherited talent like Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, but added to the mix by acquiring Greg Maddux, Terry Pendleton and Fred McGriff over the next few seasons.
“(Schuerholz) knows what he wants,” said former Indians general manager John Hart. “He’s always prepared (during trade negotiations), and he doesn’t mince words.”
After organizing successful exhibition games with MLB teams in Milwaukee, hosting regular season White Sox games at County Stadium and nearly acquiring the White Sox in 1969, Selig finally met his goal when he led a group that purchased the American League’s Seattle Pilots out of bankruptcy court on March 31, 1970. Seven days later, the new Milwaukee Brewers began their 1970 AL schedule.
Under Selig’s ownership, the Brewers grew into a powerhouse, winning the AL pennant in 1982 with a team that featured future Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers, Paul Molitor, Don Sutton and Robin Yount. Selig quickly became one of baseball’s most influential owners, helping identify and hire Peter Ueberroth as commissioner in 1984.
“He should have been Senate majority leader,” said White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, describing Selig’s ability to lobby for his position and form alliances. That skill would be tested when on Sept. 9, 1992 – two days after commissioner Fay Vincent resigned – Selig was named the Chairman of MLB’s Executive Council, making him the de facto commissioner.
Selig was quickly thrust into the battle between labor and management, which culminated with the 1994 strike and the cancellation of that year’s World Series. But with Selig in command, baseball slowly returned to normal with the resumption of play in 1995 and several key events – like Cal Ripken’s chase of Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played record – that restored the game’s popularity.
On July 9, 1998, the owners removed the “interim” tag and made Selig the game’s commissioner. Over the next 16 years, Selig – whose total tenure as commissioner was exceeded only by that of Kenesaw Mountain Landis – oversaw expansion in 1993 and 1998, the addition of two Wild Card teams, the creation of interleague play, MLB.com, the World Baseball Classic and the introduction of instant replay as a tool for umpires.
Under Selig, MLB enjoyed 20-plus years of labor peace following the 1994-95 strike and experienced a ballpark boom that featured almost two dozen new stadiums. Selig retired Jackie Robinson's No. 42 throughout baseball in 1997, oversaw the league's expansion into three divisions per league and helped establish the toughest anti-drug measures in all of sport.
“First and foremost,” Selig said, “I’m a fan.”