Wherever Pat Gillick went to offer his services as general manager, he left that team a winner.
And usually after his departure, the winning went with him as evidenced by the playoff droughts of three of the four clubs he ran in Seattle, Toronto, and of course, Baltimore.
But, his 27- year run making personnel decisions certainly caught the eye of his former associates in Cooperstown, as Gillick was named to the 2011 Baseball Hall of Fame by his former comrades in the Veterans Committee.
He will be formally inducted on Sunday along with one of his former players in second baseman Roberto Alomar, but before then, he joined Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” to talk about what an honor it is to be considered a Hall of Famer.
In fact, he felt like his time would have to wait considering the loss of longtime Yankees owner George Steinbrenner last July.
“I was very stunned when I got the call that I was going into the Hall of Fame,” Gillick said. “I never thought it would happen until it actually did. I thought that Steinbrenner would get in. But, I was stunned and and very humbled.”
Like Alomar, Gillick will be inducted as a Toronto Blue Jay-who he brought five division titles and two world championships from 1985-1993.
But, Gillick was quick to point out to Nelson that his time in Baltimore from 1995-1998 was just as special to him, and said that he cherished his time in Charm City the most because of the relationships he built.
He told Nelson that he’s hurting right now along with the rest of Oriole Nation wanting the Birds to recapture their past success when he was making the baseball decisions.
“I enjoyed the three years that I was in Baltimore and the fans were great, “Gillick told Nelson. “That was a great time. Since I left, I just hope that the tradition can continue.”
Gillick-who was GM of four MLB franchises along with the Orioles including the Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, and Philadelphia Phillies-has brought three championship trophies (two with Toronto in 1992-1993, one with Philadelphia in 2008) home in his management career and came close to World Series title runs on several more occasions.
A few of those instances included ALCS runs for the Orioles in 1996 and 1997-the last time Baltimore’s made the playoffs, and again reaching back-to-back league championship games with Seattle in 2000 and 2001.
The 2001 Mariners team tied a major-league record with 116 regular season wins, but failed to bring home a World Series title in both years.
Gillick said that in most cases, it would have taken him longer to get a team like the Orioles to playoff contention in the mid 90’s, but he said the team’s composition was in excellent shape and was ready for him to move right in and put a winning team together.
“I was very fortunate that the club had a very good nucleus,” Gillick said. “I just had to fill in the pieces. Anderson, Ripken, and Mussina were already here. So, I just tried to find the pieces to compliment them.”
One of those pieces was a winning manager who had been there before-Davey Johnson.
On the field, it was Gillick who pulled some strings toward getting one of his former players in Toronto in Roberto Alomar-who he was paired with from 1991-1995 and won 2 World Series titles with-to come to Baltimore for a playoff run.
It was all about the relationships he built previously with guys like Alomar that made his job that much easier, Gillick said.
“With Alomar, I had a history with him,” Gillick said. “And that was something that put it over the top. It’s really just finding the right part to fit with the established players already. Give the right players to the manager and get the right mix in the clubhouse.”
Gillick didn’t think twice to call Alomar the best second baseman he has ever seen, and he had some other good second baseman in Seattle with Bret Boone and Chase Utley in Philadelphia.
Now he’ll be re-united with him yet again this weekend receiving one of baseball’s most prestigious honor.
In fact, while Gillick said he could have waited to get into Cooperstown, he was insulted that Alomar didn’t get in his first year of eligibility in 2009.
“I think the incident against Toronto really affected him going in last time,” Gillick said. “He should have been first-ballot. He is the best second baseman I have ever seen.”
WNST thanks Pat Gillick for joining us and congratulates him for being inducted into Cooperstown! Check out the conversation at the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault and be sure to tune into Friday’s Mobtown Sports Beat as we devote the entire show to Pat and Roberto! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!