BY ERIC AHLQVIST
THE COOPERSTOWN CRIER
Although he was the only selection from the first Expansion Era ballot, Pat Gillick said he won’t enter the National Baseball Hall of Fame alone this summer.
“I wouldn’t be here without the contributions of the scouts, players and managers on my teams,’’ said Philadelphia Phillies senior advisor Gillick, who spent 27 seasons as a major league general manager. Gillick spoke to media members during a conference call Monday, shortly after the EE results were announced during baseball’s winter meetings in Orlando, Fla.
“This is an honor I share with the people I’ve worked with,” he continued. “You can’t do it alone.’’ Gillick, 73, will be inducted July 24 at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown. He is the first member of the Class of 2011.
The Baseball Writers’ Association of America will release its election results Jan. 5. Second baseman Roberto Alomar is among the former players on the BBWAA ballot. He helped Toronto win World Series titles in 1992 and 1993, when Gillick served the Blue Jays as their GM.
“Sitting here today, I can still remember the home run Robby hit off of Dennis Eckersley,’’ Gillick said of Alomar’s tying, two-run shot in the top of the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 1992 American League Championship Series.
“Without that home run, I might not be sitting here. It would be exciting if we go in together. Roberto is the best all-around second baseman I’ve been around in thelast 20 years.’’
Gillick, who joined the expansion Blue Jays in 1977, is credited with orchestrating the trade to acquire Alomar and Joe Carter from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez in December of 1990. Carter hit a walkoff, three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series to cap an 8-6 victory that clinched the title for the Blue Jays.
Gillick also built playoff teams with the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners and Phillies, winning his third World Series ring with Philadelphia in 2008.
“That was the final validation, or exclamation point, of my career,’’ he said, “and I don’t know if I’d be here today if not for that last title.’’
Gillick said being a good listener and remaining flexible keyed his success.
“The game is always changing and you’ve got to be able to change with it,’’ he said.
“I do think the core of any successful team should come from within the organization.
When players come up through the system they know what to expect.’’
He added that team chemistry is underrated but essential when building a potential champion.
“When I started, I thought you looked for 70 percent physical ability and 30 percent makeup,’’ he said. “Now I think it’s 60 percent makeup and 40 percent ability. If you don’t have everyone pulling in the same direction and enjoying what they’re doing, you’re not going to have a successful team.’’
Gillick appeared on 13 of the 16 EE ballots for 81.25 percent of the vote. A minimum of 75 percent (12 votes) is required for election by the 16-member EE Committee, which considered a ballot of eight former players, three executives and one manager from 1973 through the present.
Marvin Miller, the former executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, fell one vote short of election. Former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Dave Concepcion finished third with eight votes.
Miller took over the MLBPA in 1966 and helped players increase the average salary from $19,000 to $185,000 by the time he left in 1981.
He also was in charge of the MLBPA when it won the landmark free-agency decision in 1975. Miller has missed election in five elections.
“I and the union of players have received far more support, publicity and appreciation from countless fans, former players, writers, scholars, experts in labor management relations, than if the Hall had not embarked on its futile and fraudulent attempt to rewrite history,’’ Miller told the Associated Press. “It is an amusing anomaly that the Hall of Fame has made me famous by keeping me out.’’
Former New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who died earlier this year, was among those who received fewer than half of the votes.
Steinbrenner led the Yankees to seven World Series titles and 11 AL pennants after purchasing the team in 1973.
“To be frank, I thought they both (Miller and Steinbrenner) had a better opportunity to be in this situation today than I was,’’ Gillick said. “They both made significant contributions to baseball.’’
The Hall did not release actual numbers for anyone other than the top three vote-getters.
The other EE candidates were catcher Ted Simmons; pitchers Vida Blue, Ron Guidry and Tommy John; former Yankees manager Billy Martin; first baseman Steve Garvey; and outfielders Al Oliver and Rusty Staub. They all received less than half of the vote.
“I think the process worked just like it’s supposed to,’’ said Hall President Jeff Idelson, who began his career with the Yankees. “All the candidates were subject to a vigorous and thorough review, and the end result just shows how hard it is to be elected to the Hall of Fame. This is by no means the end of the line for those not elected.’’
Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Whitey Herzog, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Frank Robinson, Ryne Sandberg and Ozzie Smith served on the EE Committee, along with major league executives Bill Giles (Phillies), David Glass (Royals), Andy MacPhail (Orioles) and Jerry Reinsdorf (White Sox).
Veteran media members Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun), Tim Kurkjian (ESPN), Ross Newhan (retired, Los Angeles Times) and Tom Verducci (Sports Illustrated) rounded out the panel.
The EE Committee will consider candidates again in 2013 for the 2014 Induction Ceremony.
The Golden Era Committee will vote next year on managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players who made an impact between 1947 and 1972.
In 2012, the Pre-Integration Era Committee will consider candidates from 1871-1946. The Expansion Era voting, which runs in three-year cycles, replaced the Veterans Committee Election this past summer.