We’ve learned via social media on Monday afternoon that Roland Hemond, the general manager of the White Sox from 1974-85 and executive advisor to the GM from 2001-07, passed away at the age of 92.
Hemond first joined the South Siders in 1970 as the director of player personnel. The Rhode Island native quickly earned a promotion to general manager of the organization after Stuart Holcomb resigned in 1973. After nearly a decade at the helm, the club achieved its best season under Hemond in 1983 when the “Winning Ugly” team finished 99-63, first place in the AL West. Hemond was later relieved of his position as Sox general manager on October 2, 1985, and succeeded by Ken “Hawk” Harrelson.
In addition, Hemond also served as the GM of the Baltimore Orioles from 1988 to 1995, with previous work coming as an executive for the Milwaukee Brewers, California Angels, and Arizona Diamondbacks. He was even credited with helping to form the latter two organizations from scratch.
Some of the notable managers and executives hired and mentored by Hemond include but are not limited to Dave Dombrowski, Walt Jocketty, Doug Melvin, Derrick Hall, Dan Evans, Joe Garagiola Jr., Ken Williams, Tim Purpura, and Bill Smith Jr.
Hemond is also credited with the original idea for the Arizona Fall League, MLB’s off-season developmental league.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame honored Rolan Hemond in 2011 with the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award.
Hemond is survived by his wife, Margo; five children, Susan, Tere, Robert, Jay, and Ryan, and grandchildren.
Statements from the White Sox front office:
“The entire baseball world is saddened by the news of Roland Hemond’s passing after a long and incredibly impactful life. Roland began his career in baseball in 1951, and there is not a person in this game over the past 70 years who has not benefitted from his judgement, friendship, mentorship and his many creative ideas that forever changed the game of baseball on the field and in the front office. Baseball owes Roland an immense debt of gratitude and its heartfelt thanks. After joining the White Sox in 1970, Roland served as director of player development, vice president, executive vice president/general manager and special assistant to the chairman. The highlight of his time as White Sox general manager in Chicago certainly came in 1983 with the American League West division title, the city’s first championship since 1963. His champagne-soaked suit from that clinching game still is prominently displayed in our ballpark.
Joined by Tony La Russa, Dave Dombrowski, Walt Jocketty and Doug Melvin, I had the pleasure of seeing Roland just last month in Phoenix as he was enshrined in the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame. We shared a few words together, and we were able to thank him for all he had done for each of us, our careers, our teams and for baseball. Our thoughts go out today to his wonderful wife, Margo, their five children, his four grandchildren, and all people in baseball who mourn losing him but celebrate knowing him and all he leaves behind.”Jerry Reinsdorf, White Sox Chairman:
“It was a joy to be Roland’s friend, and our relationship extended all the way back to old Comiskey Park, where in our cramped offices, we would sometimes find an exhausted Roland cat-napping on a countertop in his tiny office. During each of our postseason games in October 2005, many of us sat in the same section and row for every game. Being baseball-superstitious, we all continued to sit in the same order, game after game, White Sox win after White Sox win. That put me next to Roland in Anaheim and Houston. Although I’d known Roland for years, sitting next to him during those intense games, listening to his insight, was a true tutorial in baseball. His baseball knowledge was extraordinary, and it was an honor to call Roland, Margo and their family very dear friends.”Howard Pizer, Senior Executive Vice President
“Roland was my first general manager as a player, and then, years later, was the first person I called when I became general manager of the White Sox. He became my first hire when I asked him to come aboard as an advisor and counselor. Roland did that and more and was an invaluable advisor, confidant and friend as we captured the 2005 World Series. As one of the sport’s greatest ambassadors, there are a lot of people mourning Roland today while also telling stories of how he impacted their lives and the game. He will be missed by many. The White Sox and my family send our deepest condolences to Margo, his kids and grandchildren.”Ken Williams, Executive Vice President
“I believe it’s shared by everyone in the baseball world, starting with his time with the Milwaukee Braves, that Roland Hemond touched and influenced more people than any other person in a really positive way. For years and years, he’s been the most beloved figure in the game. He treated everyone with kindness and respect and they returned it. Roland was a very nice man, but he also had the ability to make tough decisions. People forget that he was the guiding force to convince Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn in the early days that acquiring Carlton Fisk would not only be a good baseball move but also would show fans and the baseball world that the White Sox were serious about winning.
To show the kind of special person he was, he never forgot a name. He was a great resource for a lot of us at the Winter Meetings. When the lobbies are flooded with people, if we didn’t immediately recall a name, Roland was always there to help us out. It’s a sad day, but he lived a remarkable life.”Tony La Russa, White Sox Manager
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