Gillick stunned when call came from Hall
MIKE FEIFEL/TIMES NEWS Hall of Famers Ryne Sandberg (left) and Pat Gillick chat before Tuesday night's IronPigs game at Coca-Cola Park. Gillick, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall this past weekend, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
ALLENTOWN - One of the newest members of Baseball's Hall of Fame visited the Lehigh Valley to throw out the first pitch.
Pat Gillick, one of the most successful General Managers and evaluators of talent the game has seen was honored at Coca-Cola Park last night.
The first 3,000 fans that entered the Park received Pat Gillick bobblehead dolls.
His enshrinement last weekend made him just the 32nd baseball executive to make the Hall of Fame.
Over his career as a player and his time in the front office, he is credited with turning around four teams by sending them to the playoffs. His most recent work is turning the Phillies into World Champions in 2008.
Since he turned the reins over to Ruben Amaro Jr. the current Phillies are the only team to continue their winning ways.
As Toronto's general manager, Gillick led the Blue Jays to back-to-back World Series title in 1992-93. He moved on to be the General Manager in Baltimore for three years, with the Orioles reaching post-season twice.
After moving on to Seattle, he traded Ken Griffey Jr. to Cincinnati and organized the 2001 Mariner squad that went 116-46 tied the Major League record for wins in a season.
In each case, the teams he left have since failed to make the playoffs. The Phillies are the only exception.
"Ruben's kind of changed the club around," Gillick said. "I mean when I was there we kind of bludgeoned everyone, we scored a lot of runs and won games He's done a good job going from a real offensive club to a pitching, defensive club."
That type of record puts him in the ranks of some of the games best like a Branch Rickey or a Lee McPhail.
"They are all people that had love and passion for the game," Gillick said. "I'm not sure if I am like them, hopefully I can be 50 percent of what they are."
Last weekend, as he was being enshrined in baseball's most hallowed-hall, Gillick had to pause for a moment to reflect.
"Seing the array of talent that is on display at the Hall of Fame and you get up on stage and see the players that had the opportunity to get into the Hall you really are amazed at the people who are in there," he exclaimed. "It humbles you pretty quickly."
In fact, he was completely blind-sided by the December phone call to inform him of this honor.
"I never imagined at all, I was very stunned when the call came in," Gillick said. "I was honored, humbled and at the same time very excited by it".
What made the honor of enshrinement even more special, is that his prized player in Toronto, Roberto Alomar, joined him in entering Cooperstown.
"My feeling is he should have gotten in on the first ballot, [but] we were very, very happy that we were able to go in together," Gillick said.
Having spent over 50-years in major league baseball, Gillick has had to make adjustments to some of the greatest changes the game has seen. From the advent of Free Agency to increasing player salaries as well as the escalating value of baseball franchises, Gillick still feels the game itself has not changed.
Currently, Gillick is retired from day-to-day work but serves as Senior Advisor to the Philadelphia Phillies.
"I feel I have a lot of feel and passion for the game. I want the game to succeed and I want the game to get better," he said.
'Pigs Win! 'Pigs Win! - Josh Barfield's one out single in the bottom of the 10th inning capped a two-run rally as the IronPigs came from behind twice to beat Pawtucket 8-7. Michael Schwimmer (7-1, 1.84) got the win as Lehigh Valley increased their IL North Division lead over the PawSox to three games.