One of baseball’s great executives passed away Monday. Roland Hemond was 92 years old. Hemond spent two stints with the Chicago White Sox. One stint was as general manager from 1970-1985 and then as an executive advisor from 2001-2007.
Hemond started his illustrious career in 1951 with the Hartford Chiefs minor league baseball team. Just two short months in, the Boston Braves hired him. Hemond stayed with the Braves through 1960 including their move to Milwaukee. During the 1957 Braves World Series run, Hemond was the Braves’ assistant scouting director, earning himself a World Series ring. In 1961, Hemond moved to the West Coast to be the scouting director for the Los Angeles Angels.
Hemond’s arrival in Chicago in September of 1970 saw him assume the director of player personnel role. He occupied that position up until the midway point of the 1973 season, when he was promoted to general manager. During this window, Hemond won Executive of the Year twice. Hemond also was the general manager who gave Tony La Russa his first managing opportunity with the White Sox.
In 1985, Hemond was elevated to special assistant to the chairman of the board to Jerry Reinsdorf. This allowed Ken “Hawk” Harrelson to become the new general manager and eventually led to Tony La Russa’s firing. To this day, Reinsdorf considers it his biggest regret firing La Russa, whom Hemond hired. Reinsdorf got the the opportunity to rehire La Russa in October of 2020.
In 1986, Hemond resigned from the White Sox to pursue work with the MLB Commissioner’s Office but returned as a general manager for the Baltimore Orioles in 1987. He served in this role until 1995, where he was the senior executive vice president of the Diamondbacks until the end of 2000. Hemond returned to the Diamondbacks again from 2007-2017. While Hemond was with the Diamondbacks, he came up with the original idea for the Arizona Fall League. He called for an offseason developmental league for players to compete in that was owned by the MLB.
In 2001, the White Sox came calling, leading to his return as an executive advisor. Hemond was there through the 2005 World Series and through the 2007 season. 2005 World Series championship manager Ozzie Guillen had some thoughts on Hemond’s life.
Outside of Hemond’s player and managerial signings, his MLB executive tree is impressive. It includes Dave Dombrowski, Walt Jocketty, Doug Melvin, Derrick Hall, Dan Evans, Joe Garagiola Jr., and Kenny Williams.
Outside of being an executive, Hemond loved helping young people get careers in baseball front offices.
On top of all this, Hemond was the former president of the Association of Professional Ball Players of America (APBPA). The APBPA is a not-for-profit organization that provides anonymous financial assistance and college scholarships to current and former players, scouts, and others connected with all levels of professional baseball.
Hemond was one of the people who helped grow the game of baseball for both athletes, managers, and executives alike. He may not have any memorable plays or highlights, but his impact on baseball was unparalleled. Tony La Russa puts it best in the first line of his tweet.
May Roland Hemond’s name be remembered forever.
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