COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. To be sure, Pat Gillick cannot address a group of reporters without making at least a little bit of news. It kind of goes with the territory of being an old general manager of a ballclub, who often seems to be linked to a handful of jobs in the major leagues.
For instance, there had been some pretty hot rumors that Gillick was prepared to become the new president of the moribund Chicago Cubs. But get this Gillick and Cubs owner Tom Ricketts havent just not discussed a job, they dont even know each other.
In fact they have never spoken to one another ever.
Somebody put some kind of a story out that I had spoken to the Cubs, and that's entirely not true at all. I don't even know Mr. Ricketts, I never met him, Gillick said in decimating the story. So I told somebody yesterday that I was very happy here.
Here, of course, is with the Philadelphia Phillies. Its with the Phillies that Gillick serves as a special advisor to his protg, Ruben Amaro Jr., and to whom he and another special advisor, Dallas Green, speak several times a week.
Actually, with the trade deadline just a week away, Gillick says the conversations with Amaro have picked up as of late. Even as he prepared for his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday afternoon to become just the fourth GM to receive the honor, Gillick said during a press conference on Saturday that he and Amaro had been chatting about the Phillies next move.
Im quite active with Ruben and we talk probably three times a week and I do a lot of amateur scouting for them on the West Coast for the scouting director, but I talk to Ruben at least three times a week and this time of the year probably once a day getting close to the deadline, Gillick said. So I'm active. I'm an active consultant, let me put it that way.
So after squashing the rumors about jumping to the Cubs, perhaps Gillick could shed a little light on the chatter about the Phillies trading for Carlos Beltran?
No comment at this point, he said with a wry smile.
Nevertheless, Gillick said he would not rule out a future career with a ballclub in a position a little heftier than an active consultant or general manager. In fact, Gillick didnt necessarily rule out the idea of going to the Cubs if they wanted to talk to him about the team presidency.
But make no mistake about it Gillick says his days as a general manager are over. The 2008 World Series with the Phillies followed by last Decembers news that the Hall of Fame veterans committee had voted him in, capped off his career. Surely the future is unwritten for the soon-to-be 74-year-old legend, but it seems as if settling into retirement is not something hes going to do very well.
If there was a possibility of something, a presidency or something like that, I would take a look at it, Gillick said. But to make any sort of a lateral move anywhere, I would absolutely not do that because Im very happy in the role I have with the Phillies and I love it over at the Phillies. So it wouldn't make any sense to do a lateral situation. It would have to be something thats above where I am at the moment.
At the moment, Gillick is headed toward induction into the Hall of Fame, where his picture, along with Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven, adorns posters and flags throughout Cooperstown. Interestingly, Alomar spent the longest tenure of his 17 seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, where he was an All-Star in each of his five seasons. It was Gillick who selected the Torontos first players when it was admitted as an expansion franchise before the 1977 season and Gillick who traded to get Alomar before the 1991 season and then signed him again with Baltimore for three more seasons.
In Alomars career, Gillick was his GM in seven seasons. Actually, as the story is told, Gillick first tried to sign Alomar when he was 14-years old. The son and brother of big leaguers, Alomar was always hanging out at the ballpark. He was there so much that Gillick always the scout figured out that the kid could play.
I saw his dad play in the minor leagues when he was with the Braves going way back in the 60s, but when I got over to the Yankees as scouting director, Sandy was at our ball club, Gillick recalled. He used to bring the kids out to the park, like a lot of the players now. They bring their young children out there and work with them and throw BP and grounders and stuff, and Sandy Alomar was bringing the kids out. So I thought right then that probably pretty good blood lines with his brother and him. And so we followed him and we made a big push to sign him in Puerto Rico, but we got beat out by San Diego.
Then after that, he happened to be playing with Reno and we had a club in that league, California League, and I saw him play in Reno, so I had him in kind of not really the back of my mind, the front of my mind. So the opportunity came and it kind of came out of the blue. It was something that happened fairly quickly. I was looking for a right-hand hitter and I was interested in Joe Carter then Padres GM Joe McIllvane brought up Fred McGriff and we went back and forth a little bit and it ended up two on two. We didn't do a lot of hassling. It was a pretty pure baseball deal. So consequently, we got it done.
Gillick says Alomar was on his radar screen in 1975.
I was born in 68, so you can figure it out, Alomar joked.
Gillick and Alomar will be the first Blue Jays inducted into the Hall of Fame. Oh yeah, Gillick loves working for the Phillies, but it was in Toronto where he put down the framework for a Hall of Fame career.
Nobody asked me, but if I had to wear a hat in, it would be a Blue Jay hat, Gillick said.
Either way, it would be pretty fitting if Gillick used his induction speech to announce a trade.
E-mail John R. Finger at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JRFingerCSN.
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