In praise of baseball’s best general manager of the last half-century

It happens two or three times a year. I’ll be listening to a general manager discuss his job, and many of them inevitably will bring up Pat Gillick’s name. He constructed playoff teams in Toronto, Seattle, Baltimore and Philadelphia. His teams won the World Series three teams. He was one of the all-time best at evaluating talent, but beyond that, he understood the fine art of putting a roster together. He also treated scouts, staffers and everyone with respect. If there’s a more beloved figure in the last half-century of baseball, I don’t know who it is.

I was talking to Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers on Monday morning when he, too, talked about some of the things he’d learned from Gillick.

“I remember one year when Jayson Werth was non-tendered by the Dodgers. I thought I had him signed. I called his agent and asked, `Are we getting a deal done?’ He said, `I don’t think so. Pat Gillick is in the family home in Peoria, Illinois, right now.’ I said, `Jayson Werth?’ He said, `Yeah, he flew down there.’

“Sure enough, he got him. Gillick would never sign anybody without looking a guy in the eye. Which more of us should do.

“Pat was always kind of a mentor. I love sitting and talking baseball players with him. He told me maybe 10 years ago, `When I first got into this game, I thought it was 70-percent skill set, 30-percent makeup. Now I think it’s the other way around.”

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