Clearly one of the secrets to success in baseball is to hire Pat Gillick, and then to never let him leave. Ask Baltimore, languishing in the gloom of the American League East cellar; ask Seattle, whose recent employment of the ghost of Ken Griffey Jr. was a sad echo to their own long-gone better days.
And yes, ask Toronto, which has spent the last 16 post-Gillick years wandering, bathing in the receding, reflected light of their old glories. It was only this year that Flashback Fridays were finally retired, long after their subjects did. Monday, however, Toronto’s best baseball days were acknowledged, as Gillick was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the expansion era committee, which considers contributions to the game since 1973.
“I can’t tell you how excited I was. It really recognizes a lot of people that don’t get recognized all the time,” Gillick said in a conference call, before returning to the winter meetings to serve as senior advisor to the Phillies in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. “The guys in scouting, the player development people are very important, and I just feel like that I represent them, and that’s the way I feel about it.
“So I’m thrilled for them, too. Because there’s great guys that love the game, and put their heart and soul into this game.”
The late George Steinbrenner didn’t make the cut; neither, predictably, did former union leader Marvin Miller, whose shameful exclusion from Cooperstown speaks to how powerfully he afflicted the game’s various sultans and pashas.
But while those were lamentable misses, Gillick was an unquestionable hit. He patiently built the Blue Jays from their birth in 1977 into a two-time World Series champion; after leaving in 1994 he got Baltimore into the playoffs, and Seattle after that. Most recently, he shepherded Philadelphia towards a World Series win, and a World Series loss. Since his previous three teams have not reached the post-season since his departure, the Phillies might want to staple Gillick to his chair.