12/06/10 12:04 PM EST
New Hall of Famer Gillick talks to media
By / MLB.com
Brad Horn: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the National Baseball Hall of Fame's Expansion Era Committee's announcement. This information today can be found at our website, baseballhall.org.
I would like to introduce you to the dais guests, Hall of Fame Chairman Jane Forbes Clark and, to your left, Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson.
At this point I would like to welcome to the podium Hall of Fame Chairman Jane Forbes Clark.
Jane Forbes Clark: Thank you, Brad. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for being here. As you know, the 16-member Expansion Era Committee met here yesterday to consider the candidacies of 12 managers, executives and long-retired players for Hall of Fame election.
This ballot was comprised of eight former players, three executives, and one manager selected by an 11-member historical overview committee of the Baseball Writer's Association of America.
I would like to take a moment to thank the 16 Expansion Era Committee members who voted yesterday. We had very open, forthright, lengthy discussions about each of the 12 candidates yesterday. It was a very good meeting. And the committee members, some of whom are here with us today and sitting in the front row -- as I introduce you, I would like you to stand up, if you would -- Johnny Bench, Whitey Herzog, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Frank Robinson, Ryan Sandberg, Ozzie Smith, Bill Giles, David Glass, Andy MacPhail, Jerry Reinsdorf, Bob Elliot, Tim Kurkjian, Ross Newhan and Tom Verducci.
Yesterday, this committee elected the newest member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2011. He has spent nearly 50 years in Major League Baseball as a talent evaluator and team builder. Prior to becoming a general manager, he spent more than a decade with the Houston Colt .45s and Astros, and then with the New York Yankees in baseball operations. He has served as general manager for the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners and Philadelphia Phillies. His teams have won three World Series titles and overall, his teams have made 11 appearances in the postseason. And his teams recorded winning seasons in 20 of the 27 years in which he served as a general manager.
Presently, he is senior advisor for the Philadelphia Phillies. Today, he's our first member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2011, Pat Gillick. [applause]
Welcome to the Hall of Fame.
Pat Gillick: I can't tell you what an honor this is. And really, I think it's on behalf of all of the people that I've worked with over the years. That's who I feel this honor is for. The owners, the scouts, the managers, the players -- they all share in this award.
I would not be here today if it weren't for all of the groups that I've worked with over the years. You can't do this job alone. It's a difficult job to do, anyway, but you've got to have help, and the fortunate thing about it, over the years, I've had great help from all of these groups. I really think this is an honor. I want to say I share it with everyone that participated with us; I can't tell you, it's over the hill.
And I've said many times to a lot of the people in this room, I never felt I had a job; I love going to work every day. It's a great job, great camaraderie, great people, and I just am so honored and thankful.
I want to thank the Hall of Fame. I want to thank Jane Clark, Jeff, Brad, certainly the committee that elected me; I appreciate that. There were some really fine candidates, and I'm just very, very fortunate to be standing here now.
But again, I want to thank the committee for their selection, and I'll make you guys proud. Thank you very much.
Q: This is going back a few years. Can you talk about the success that you had with Epy Guerrero in the Dominican Republic and the great Toronto teams you constructed in the 1980s?
Pat Gillick: I think going back to the early '60s, when I first started my career in baseball, in this end of it, with the Houston Astros, you know, we recognize there was a strong market in Latin America.
When I left the Astros and went over to the Blue Jays and we were an expansion club, we felt that the only way that we were going to become competitive -- and especially we weren't very attractive to the free agents, going to Canada -- that we were going to have to develop our players ourselves.
So we had, in Toronto, a wonderful, patient ownership with Labatt Breweries, and that was part of our game plan -- to develop those players in Latin America and add to the group that we were trying to develop at the same time from the United States.
So we worked hand in hand for the 20-some years I was in Toronto. We felt there were some wonderful players we had on our club. Funny, the first one that comes to mind, and he was with a club that I'm working for now, is George Bell, and traded over to Jerry in Chicago for a while, and Tony and Garcia, different players that we had signed.
But it really helped bring our club along, and as I say, our ownership was patient. We said it was going to take about 10 years and it took us about eight years to get to the playoffs, but again, we probably couldn't have done it, as I pointed out a minute ago, without people like Epy Guerrero and the other scouts that we have that were out there slugging it out, day in and day out.
Q: You were on the ballot with all kinds of other illustrious candidates, including Steinbrenner. What does it mean for you to be the one that stands out of these 12 nominees, and I wonder if you have any thoughts, also, on perhaps Marvin Miller not getting selected to the Hall of Fame again.
Pat Gillick: You know, as I said, I thought I was very fortunate with the group of players and being in with Billy and George and Mr. Miller. You know, to finally be considered and be voted in by the committee, I think, you know, Marvin Miller had a lot of impact on baseball, and consequently, at some point, he would be on the ballot. But you have to ask the committee about the reason he wasn't voted in. I really can't comment on that. But all in all, I'm just very thankful that I'm able to be seated here in this seat today.
Q: When you were in Seattle, your second year, your team won 116 games, which was unprecedented. Can you talk a little about putting that team together and how things came together in Seattle?
Pat Gillick: Again, you know, the job of general manager, I think ... you know, I was talking to John about the job of general manager. I think, really, the job of the general manager is not to select the correct players. It's to select the correct people to select the players. I think that's really the job of the general manager -- to select the correct evaluators.
And as I said, everywhere along the way, I've been very fortunate to have people that were good evaluators of talent. It was really -- and putting a team like that together ... I mean, first of all, we win ten in a row. And we lose one, and our manager at that time, Lou Piniella, would say, "I need a left-handed hitter." [laughter]
But it's just that year, it was one of those magical years where things just fell into place. That year, actually, one of our better players, A-Rod, went over to Texas and we lost him. And the year before, we had lost Griffey to Cincinnati.
So it's just one of those years where we had a good group of people, and that's one thing that I think is very important is character. When I started out in this game, I thought it was 70 percent ability and 30 percent character, and the longer I've been in it, I think it's 60 percent character and 40 percent ability. Because if you're going to be out there through Spring Training in 162 games, you need people with character. And we were very, very fortunate on that club, and most of the clubs that we've had, that we've had good character people on the club and people that pulled together at difficult times.
So it just fell into place. I mean, you know, I told George one time, when I was working with George, and every game -- George wanted to go 162-0, just like football. And I said, "George, you know, if we are going to win 100, you have to lose 62, at least." He didn't quite understand that.
It's just one of those magical years. It's something you can't explain, winning 116 games.
I wanted to tell, if I could, a quick story about Whitey . I don't know if he remembers this, but we were in Spring Training in 1962 in Miami and Throneberry was on the club, Herzog was on the club and another Hall of Famer, Dick Williams, was on the club, and I was a rookie. I went to Spring Training, the first time in the big leagues with the Orioles, and we had two-a-day workouts at that time. We had one in the morning, and one in the afternoon.
We came in one day, and Jackie Brandt was on our club, too, and I was hit by Throneberry and Whitey, and they said, "You know, it's really a problem. You have everything around, all sorts of juices and things, but they don't have any lemonade."
I said, "Yeah, that's right."
So Marv said, "We brought something with us; you want to taste it?"
So I said, "Yeah, why not?" So he had a thermos, and I took a big gulp of the lemonade, and the lemonade was a gin martini. [laughter] So we were having a little pop in between workouts. [laughter]
Q: Can you talk about your experience in Houston, and what kind of imprint that left on the rest of your career?
Pat Gillick: Eddie Robinson hired me to go down to Houston with Paul Richards, but the experience -- we didn't have a lot of success, but the experience I got down in Houston was invaluable. I give a tremendous amount of credit to Tal Smith.
He helped me tremendously when I was down in Houston. I went to the Yankees for three years, and he was there with Gabe at that time; Mr. Steinbrenner was on suspension. But Tal was really the one that pushed me and led me down the right path, and he came from a good background, too, because he had worked with Gabe in Cincinnati and Gabe had been down from Cincinnati for a while with Houston, and then he went to Cleveland.
Really, the background of my foundation, really, I have to give a lot of credit to Tal and, lo and behold, Bill Giles was our PR director and did a great job, you know, for us down in Houston, and then he went on to Philadelphia.
I have to give a lot of credit to the Houston organization for getting my career off the ground.
Q: Is there a team or a season that you consider your greatest accomplishment or that you were most proud of in what they did and how you put it together?
Pat Gillick: I can't really pinpoint one. Certainly, I'd have to say in Toronto in 1985, going to the playoffs for the first time, it was kind of like -- people ask how you felt. It felt like you got to the top of the hill. You were climbing the whole time and finally you got there, and we ended up losing to Kansas City. They went on and beat Whitey's club in the World Series in '85.
But I think probably that was the most satisfying season was just the fact that we worked so hard from '77 in the expansion draft right to '76. '77 was our first season. We were worked so hard. I think '85 was the one where you said, "Wow, we kind of made it to the top."
Let me tell you, what was the toughest season, though, for me, was 1987. We had a three-and-a-half game lead, with six to play, and ended up losing to Detroit. That had to be the toughest. It was one of those situations where you were sliding downhill and they had momentum, and we ended up playing in the last three games of the season in Detroit, and we lost all three.
So that was a tough one for us.
Q: Just wanted to ask you, as well, about that challenge that you had between '92 and '93. It's rare to repeat as a World Series champion, but it's even rarer to do it when you've turned over more than half your roster in the offseason.
Pat Gillick: We were really -- as I said, you couldn't get the job done unless you had the people to plug into those spots, and that's what we had. We had a lot of personnel available. We developed a lot of players and so, consequently, we could turn that roster over after '92 and still come back and win in '93.
You know, we added Paul Molitor to that club; Dave Stewart was on that club. They did a tremendous job for us. Really, it was our farm system in Toronto that allowed us to make the changes that we did from '92 to '93.
Q: The Robby Alomar trade for Joe Carter kind of made that Toronto team. What do you think of Robby's chances and you being both up on the same dais this summer being inducted together?
Pat Gillick: I think it would be tremendous. I think he's well deserving. Probably he's the best second baseman that I've seen all around, defensively and offensively, probably in the last 20 years. You know, I think that he certainly should be given strong consideration. I know he was very close last year, and so certainly, I hope that, you know, he would make it. It would be a thrill if he did make it and that we could both go in at the same time.
The other thing I want to say, I want to thank the media, too. You guys have been really great to me over the years, and I appreciate that. [tears up] You've been very fair with me, and I appreciate it.
Q: How emotional was it this morning when you got that phone call and got the news?
Pat Gillick: I can't tell you how excited I was. I'm a very emotional guy, but I was just very honored, very excited, and as I said, it really recognizes a lot of people that don't get recognized all the time. The guys in scouting, the player development people are very important, and I just feel like that I represent them, and that's the way I feel about it.
So I'm thrilled for them, too. Because, overall, there are great guys that love the game and put their heart and soul into this game.
Q: Looking back, do you have a favorite trade you've made in terms of maybe a combination of the personnel, but also the story behind the trade and maybe involving some of the scouts you've talked about in bouncing back and forth with them and collecting information?
Pat Gillick: Well, I think, you know, if someone looks back, they always talk about the Fernandez/McGriff and Alomar/Joe Carter trade and I look back on it, and that was a good trade for both clubs at that time. And it was a trade that went down really fairly easily. Joe McIlvaine and I were on the same length. Joe was the GM of the Padres at that time, and there was a lot of bickering. In fact, I was trying to get another player in the deal. But we negotiated back and forth, and it was a good ol' baseball trade. We needed a right-handed hitter, and they wanted to make a move and get a left-handed hitter at first base for McGriff.
Looking back, that was one of the best trades from the standpoint that everybody came out a winner. As we all know, both sides got to win in this thing. You don't make too many trades if you get short-changed all the time. So it was a winning trade for both of us, but probably more so for the Blue Jays because Joe and Robby contributed so much in '92 and '93.
Brad Horn: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your time.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.