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Major League Executive
Pat Gillick

By Blair Lovern

Pat Gillick is the only executive whose marrow is probably wrapped in three wool and one cotton yarn winding.

He was nearly born at a ballpark, according to his mother. She was dropped off at the hospital by her husband on the way to his Pacific Coast League game in 1937. Gillick played baseball into college and beyond. Afterward he stayed in the sport and worked to earn a golden reputation.

Having finished his second successful year with the Mariners, his talent for running a team is obvious: nine playoff appearances and two World Series championships with three clubs.

During Baseball America’s history, no other executive produced results matching Gillick’s. Those in baseball who know him say he is truthful and inventive, passionate yet humble.

Gillick was a lefthander for Southern California and pitched for the 1958 national championship team. After school he bounced around the Orioles system for five seasons, going 45-32, 3.42.

The Astros offered him the job of assistant farm director when a dead arm ended his playing days in 1963. He stayed for 10 seasons, then joined the Yankees under novice owner George Steinbrenner. In 1976, when the expansion Blue Jays built a front office, Gillick was the first baseball man they hired. It was in Toronto that he established his reputation.

The Blue Jays won American League East titles in 1985, ’89 and ’91-’93, as well as consecutive World Series championships in 1992 and ’93. Gillick not only forged a winning reputation but also one of creativity.

Always a hard worker, Gillick sometimes suffered from chest pains that he attributed to 16-hour workdays. He never took those pains seriously until 1993, when doctors found a blocked artery. Gillick underwent angioplasty and planned to retire after the end of the 1994 season.

"I feel particularly satisfied with what this club has done," Gillick told Baseball America in 1994. "People ask me about back-to-back titles, and I say it’s great. What pleases me even more is the 11 years in a row we’ve done things the right way and been successful."

He couldn’t stay idle for long. The Orioles piqued his interest in the winter of 1995, offering him a chance to be GM. Gillick helped take Baltimore, which had not been to the playoffs since 1983, into the AL Championship Series in 1996 and ’97.

After his three-year contract with the Orioles ended, Gillick jumped to the Mariners to become the team’s executive vice president as well as GM.

Gillick helped the Mariners become more successful than ever, despite the loss of Ken Griffey and Alex Rodriguez, winning a club-record 91 games in 2000 and an AL-record 116 in 2001.

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