In praise of Pat Gillick

Pat Gillick with grandson Cooper after the former Jays GM threw out the first pitch to fellow Hall...

Pat Gillick with grandson Cooper after the former Jays GM threw out the first pitch to fellow Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar at Toronto's home-opener, April 1, at the Rogers Centre. (MICHAEL PEAKE/SUN MEDIA/QMI AGENCY)

Bob Elliott, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:39 PM ET

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - What people are saying about former Blue Jays general manager Pat Gillick, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Sunday afternoon in Cooperstown:

“Whether evaluating players, constructing staffs, preparing for trades and making them, cherry picking talented young prospects from other organizations, Pat was the best. His leadership style and high energy approach set the tone in each of the organizations he led. But more than all of that it is Pat’s unbridled passion for baseball and his stewardship of our game. I am thrilled for Pat and his induction into the Hall of Fame and proud of his representation of all of us who have ever served in the very important role of a major league general manager. We salute you Pat.”

— John Schuerholz, Braves president.

“Pat is the person I look up to the most in this game. He’s a great evaluator of talent whose success speaks for itself. What impressed me the most is his ability to move from one organization to another and win while retaining almost everyone. Most people clean house and insert ‘their people’. Pat works so well with others he makes everyone around him better.”

— Brian Cashman, Yanks GM.

“Pat is simply what every non-uniformed person in baseball aspires to be. Roland Hemond receiving the Buck O’Neil award and Pat being inducted the same weekend is as good as it gets for every scout, player development and front office person who goes to work every day in anonymity.”

— Gary Hughes, Cubs executive.

“Pat was always emotional and cared so much. I’ll always remember opening day in 1994 when he gave out the World Series rings at the SkyDome. He was crying at each player, but then he came to Tony Fernandez. I had never ever seen him like that. He was the guy who brought back Tony to help us win. Pat was always genuinely happy for other people’s success.”

— Paul Molitor, Ex-Jay.

“Pat is the most complex and extraordinary person I’ve ever met. Very complicated, ultra-intelligent and combines positive qualities with natural intelligence and practical smarts plus a natural instinct for the game. He’s a 24-hour a day guy, seldom sleeping. He promotes going to the last degree to get the job done. He’s not a stats guy looking for the ‘secret’ formula, he’s already been there and goes beyond the realm of current baseball experts. He has a compassion for people and the personnel he surrounds himself with — who give feedback and evaluations that may be different from the normal view. He has that innate ability to use opinions that are not in conformity with the consensus of current owners.”

— Bob Engle, former Jays scouting director.

“Patrick knows what it takes to win: his philosophy on players/pitchers, his ability to evaluate not only players but his organization, his patience of letting people develop, players, staffers, families, never rushing to change the cast but working with them and letting them develop a feel for his philosophy. He has such wonderful people skills and compassion. I experienced those Sunday evening calls as an area scout with a family and was overwhelmed by a man with so much to do with so little time, yet he’d show an interest in both employees and their families. I’m certain he does not realize the impact he has had on all of us under his guidance. Bless him, Doris and Kim. They made it work to the highest standard of excellence. I saved his season’s end communications to compliment us individually and still have them. They are special to read on a cold wintry eve.”

— Paul Riccarini, ex-Jays scout, now with the Astros.

“Pat’s been my friend my entire career. He’s one of the most beloved baseball guys ever. I can remember managing in winter ball when I worked for the Yankees, I called Pat, who was with the Astros, for help finding a player. Everyone called Pat. He’s been a true good guy and a friend who has had success every where he went.”

— Bobby Cox, former Jays and Braves manager.

“Everyone who ever worked for him learned. He always treated people so well. When you say ‘Pat Gillick is in the Hall of Fame’ the response is ‘of course he is.’ No one questioned the decision. It didn’t matter whether he was scouting in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin or Chicago when I was an area scout, he always had time for a player I wanted him to see.”

— Chris Bourjos, ex-Jays scout, now with the Orioles.

“I had the utmost respect for Pat, he had the ability to put a winning team together with talent while also considering the chemistry of the clubhouse. He could listen and make decisions. He has a proven track record every place he’s gone.”

— Ernie Whitt, ex-Jay.

“Pat was an outstanding GM that led his clubs to three world championships. An astute judge of talent with great leadership skills. He always led outstanding organizations that were well respected.”

— David Dombrowksi, Tigers president.

“Gillick helped make baseball popular in Canada by developing a championship organization and then took the experience to other places and won as well. The demands and areas of expertise in the executive office have changed dramatically during his tenure. He adapted and won through them all.”

— Ned Colletti, Dodgers GM.

“Besides being a great judge of talent and character, Pat made everyone around him feel important. He was a great teammate of mine in 1963 at (class-A) Elmira. The man has a photographic memory. Back in the day, he’d quote stats on anyone in any league by memory. And he was a great GM to work for. His track record in that role is unparalleled.”

— Davey Johnson, Nationals manager.

“Pat combined a great eye for talent with a great mind for the possibilities within the game. He was and still is a ‘why not?’ thinker. He was a pioneer in the recruitment and development of talent from Latin America, one of the first to exploit the Rule VI draft. Pat understood the value of player development and scouting but could always find that extra player either through trade, waiver claim or free agency to help make his team a champion.”

— Gord Ash, assistant Brewers GM.

“Pat brings a sense of class and integrity to everything he touches. A fantastic leader and even a better man.”

— Paul Quantrill, former Jays reliever.

“Always a winner, one of the smartest baseball minds and astute traders of our century.”

— Jim Fregosi, former Jays manager, Braves executive.

“Pat simply is a baseball man, who has experienced every phrase of leadership in the game from a player through the GM position. He is a people person who has the ability to listen to those around him and he lacks the ego that many have who have to do things their way.”

— Murray Cook, Tigers scout, former Expos GM.

“Pat had a great ability to combine people and make things better every where he went. The skill set of being a player, a scout, a farm director ... he understood what goes into making a club but he also understood what it was like to be a player.”

— Charlie Kerfeld, Phillies scout.

“I was surprised and honoured to be on Pat’s (Hall of Fame guest) list. I don’t know if I’ll survive his speech though — especially if he starts crying. Hope they supply crates of Kleenex!”

— Donna Kuzoff, executive assistant, formerly in scouting department.

 

 


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