Distinguished Service Award
By Mark Derewicz
Roland Hemond has seen quite a bit during his 51 years in professional baseball. He has engineered some 135 trades involving 428 players as general manager with the White Sox and Orioles. Through it all, Hemond garnered three major league executive-of-the-year awards and was a vital component in several impressive turnarounds.
Hemond, 72, joined the front office of the Eastern Leagues Hartford Chiefs in 1951, and by the end of the season was promoted to the Boston Braves front office. He stayed with the Braves until 1960, when he was named the expansion Los Angeles Angels first GM.
In September 1970, he joined the White Sox, a team that finished with a major league-worst 56-106 record. He traded 16 players in the first 18 hours of the 1970 Winter Meetings. In 1971, the White Sox finished third in the American League West with a 79-83 record. The Sox acquired Dick Allen for the 1972 season and finished second with an 87-67 record, earning Hemond his first executive-of-the- year award. Hemond stayed in Chicago when Bill Veeck returned as the teams owner in 1975.
"Working with Bill Veeck was one of the best experiences anyone could ever enjoy," Hemond said. "His intelligence on all aspects of life and baseball acumen had a tremendous impact in my life. I still treasure that friendship every single day."
In 1983, he earned his second executive-of-the-year award after the Sox won the West by 20 games. But his biggest accomplishment occurred during the Winter Meetings, when the owners were planning to vote on a pension plan for front-office employees. Hemond spoke passionately about the importance of scouts and front-office personnel. After his speech, the owners unanimously approved the pension plan.
"That was perhaps the most important role that I played in the game," he said. "It was long overdue."
In May 1986, Hemond joined the commissioners office, working as a special assistant to Peter Ueberroth to create opportunities for minorities. In November 1987, he joined the Orioles as GM and helped produce a 321Ž2-game turnaround in 1989, earning his third executive-of-the-year award. He joined the Diamondbacks as senior executive vice president after eight seasons with the Orioles.
Through the years, Hemond groomed such future GMs as Dave Dombrowski, Walt Jocketty and Dan Evans. He helped create the Arizona Fall League and played a significant role in Team USAs preparation for the 1999 Pan American Games and the 2000 Olympics. In 2000, new White Sox GM Ken Williams asked Hemond to join his staff as an executive adviser, a position he still holds.
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