Lee MacPhail, former Orioles general manager and father of former president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, passed away Thursday evening of natural causes at his home in Delray Beach, Fla. He was the oldest living Hall of Famer, having celebrated his 95th birthday with family and friends two weeks ago.
MacPhail was hired as Orioles general manager in 1959 and laid the groundwork for the team that swept the Dodgers in the 1966 World Series. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998 following a five-decade career in the front office and with the American League.
His son, Andy, worked in the Orioles’ front office from 2007-11. Grandson Lee MacPhail IV is a scout in the organization.
Major League Baseball sent out a press release a few minutes ago that included the following:
Born Oct. 25, 1917 in Nashville, Tenn., MacPhail was the son of another Hall of Fame executive, Larry MacPhail, making them the only father-son duo in Cooperstown. MacPhail followed in his father’s footsteps by serving as a front office executive in baseball for 45 years.
“Baseball history has lost a great figure in Lee MacPhail, whose significant impact on the game spanned five decades,” said Hall of Fame Chairman of the Board Jane Forbes Clark. “As a Hall of Fame executive, Lee developed one of the game’s strongest farm systems for the New York Yankees before serving as American League President for 10 years. He will always be remembered in Cooperstown as a man of exemplary kindness and a man who always looked after the best interests of the game.”
Beginning with the Yankees in 1949, MacPhail served as the Farm Director and Player Personnel Director for 10 years, building a system that led the team to seven World Series championships and nine pennants during his tenure.
In 1959, he became the general manager for the Baltimore Orioles, laying the groundwork for the 1966 World Series championship team as well as one of the most successful franchises in the modern era.
In 1965, MacPhail became the chief administrative assistant to newly elected commissioner William Eckert. The Sporting News named him Executive of the Year in 1966. He then returned to the Yankees as general manager from 1967 to 1973 before being elected president of the American League.
From 1974 to 1983, he oversaw the expansion in Toronto and Seattle, helped develop the designated hitter rule and ruled on George Brett’s famous pine tar home run. In 1981, he was instrumental in negotiations about free agency that helped to end the players’ strike. He resigned after the 1983 season, but continued his work in baseball as the president of the Major League Baseball Player Relations Committee.
Lee MacPhail was elected to the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors in 1974, making him the longest-tenured member of the current board. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998 by the Veterans Committee.
No services are planned at this time. A memorial will be held at a date to be announced.
In lieu of flowers, the MacPhail family is asking that donations in his memory be made to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Whitey Ford, Hall of Fame pitcher: “Lee MacPhail was a good man, and I had a great relationship with him for many, many years. I was pleased to see him elected to the Hall of Fame because he was so talented at building winners. As Farm Director, he was integral in maintaining the Yankees’ championship run.”
Pat Gillick, Hall of Fame executive: “Lee was one of the nicest, most considerate general managers I ever dealt with. And as president of the American League, he was one of the most professional individuals with whom I’ve ever worked.”
Orioles majority owner Peter G. Angelos: “Lee MacPhail’s impact on the game and the Orioles cannot be overstated. The MacPhail name is one of the most recognizable in Major League Baseball, and Lee continued his father Larry’s legacy over 45 years in the industry in his roles with the Orioles, Yankees and ultimately the Commissioner’s Office. His work as president and general manager of the Orioles, including the acquisition of future Hall of Fame outfielder Frank Robinson from the Cincinnati Reds, helped lay the groundwork for the club’s first World Series championship in 1966. This legacy was extended by his son Andy, who oversaw the Orioles’ baseball operations for 4 Â½ seasons and helped set the stage for the magical 2012 season. On behalf of the Orioles organization, I extend my condolences to Andy and the MacPhail family.”