Gillick emotional to the end

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:49 AM ET

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- It was one of those hot, airless afternoons in farm country.

A perfect day to play two, as another hall of famer once put it.

And, as he began to speak from the dais, you could feel the crowds and the tents melting in the heat.

In their place was a ball field ... two teenage teams playing and in a rickety bleacher, a few guys in straw hats with special eyes waiting for someone on this dusty to impress.

"Most of all, I want to thank the scouts who helped me get here," said Pat Gillick, his voice cracking, but not breaking.

"I want to thank Bob Engle, Wayne Morgan, Don Welke, Wayne Norton, Epy Guerrero and Charlie Kerfeld."

For Gillick, the art of scouting -- finding, securing and developing talent -- has always been the true heart of the game.

As a young scout with the Houston Astros, Gillick enjoyed the stories no matter how many times he heard them.

"Communications may be better, everyone has a BlackBerry, but that can't take the place of the old timers' stories."

Like climbing trees so opposing scouts wouldn't see him, registering under fake names or pulling "dirty tricks" for an edge.

He told of working for the New York Yankees as scout Dave Yoakum and he attempted to sign Willie Upshaw, a high schooler from Plano, Tex.

Upshaw and his family were considering football. Gillick called Milwaukee Braves scout Al LaMacchia asking him to accompany him to Plano.

"We sat in the living room, two scouts from different teams talking about pros and cons of each sport," Gillick said. "Willie chose baseball. I don't think a scout from one team would help another nowadays."

Upshaw hit 123 homers becoming the foundation of the Jays franchise, the first of the Rule V drafts, which led to the selections of Jim Gott, MVP winner George Bell, Jim Acker, Kelly Gruber and Manny Lee.

Later at the news conference Gillick, explained how scouting has changed this way: "There was extreme competition, but also extreme camaraderie back then. Decades ago if a writer had a problem filing his story, a pal would help. I don't think that would happen now."

Gillick handed out plenty of thank yous:

From his Jays days: “The two Sue’s” (Sue Cannell and Sue Turjicana), Howard Starkman, Elliot Wahle, Fran Brown, George Holm, Gord Kirke, Dr. Ron Taylor, Ellen Harrigan and Billy Smith.

From Seattle: Randy Adamack, Kevin Martinez, Lee Pelekoudas, Tim Hevly, Hide Sueyoshi, Debbie Larsen, Jan Plein, Roger Jongewaard, Hallie Larson and Patrick Guerrero.

From Philadelphia: Dave Montgomery, Bill Giles, Ruben Amaro, Marti Wolever, Benny Looper, Frank Copenbarger, John Vukovich, Dallas Green, Adele MacDonald and Steve Novaryta.

Gillick was living in Atlanta, working for the Yanks, when he received an offer to join the expansionist Jays.

"My wife Doris and I thought it would be a great new challenge, we accepted and moved north where I lived for almost 30 years," Gillick said. "Playing in April at Exhibition Stadium wasn't a lot of fun.

"We became the first team outside of the U.S. to win the Series. I was happy for our organization, also happy for Paul Molitor who had never won ... he had the same look as Jamie Moyer in 2008."

Gillick sailed through his speeches at receptions held by the Jays and Phillies.

His voice cracked a couple of times Sunday but the man Paul Beeston once said "cried every time John Olerud got a base hit" and wanted the Hall of Fame to allow his daughter Kim to give the speech, went the distance.

"He won all over-under bets -- one or two minutes -- on when he'd cry," said Kerfeld, a Phillies scout. "He got through it."

At Doubleday Field when dear friend Roland Hemond was presented the Buck O'Neil award Saturday, Gillick was seen weeping.

So, he didn't pitch a shuotut.

Gillick concluded quoting the late Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus.

"As Dave said, I might not be the most deserving, but I am the most appreciative."

Leading off the program was Gillick.

We spotted Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers heading for the exit.

"Coming back?" he was asked.

"Nope, I just came for Pat," Towers said.


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