CHICAGO - Roland Hemond, whose 70-year career in baseball included three Executive of the Year awards as general manager of the Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles, died Sunday night. He was 92.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, with whom he spent 19 seasons, announced Hemond’s death Monday.
"He passed peacefully in his son Jay’s arms," Hemond’s family said in a statement released by the Diamondbacks. "The Hemond family shared many laughs with him until the end, and we appreciate the love and support of all his baseball family."
Hemond was Chicago’s GM from 1970-85 and served in the same role for Baltimore from 1988-95. He won the Sporting News MLB Executive of the Year award in 1972, and then again in 1983 when the White Sox won the AL West.
His third Executive of the Year honor came in 1989, when the Orioles nearly won the AL East after losing 107 games the previous season.
Hemond is also considered the architect of the Arizona Fall League, and he helped found the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation to provide assistance to longtime scouts needing special support. In 2011, he received the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award, given by the Hall of Fame’s board of directors to a person whose efforts enhanced baseball’s positive impact on society.
"With a perpetual twinkle in his eye, Roland had a love for the game that was fueled by a respect and admiration for all who played it," Hall chair Jane Forbes Clark said. "He worked tirelessly to help baseball family members in need and never wavered in his commitment to serve. We extend our condolences to his wife, Margo, and the entire Hemond family."
Born Oct. 26, 1929. in Central Falls, Rhode Island, Hemond was the assistant scouting director for the Milwaukee Braves during the 1950s. Hemond helped assemble the Milwaukee team that won the World Series in 1957, and he became scouting director for the Los Angeles Angels when they began playing in 1961.
He joined the White Sox in 1970.
"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," said Chicago manager Tony La Russa, who also managed the White Sox during Hemond’s tenure as GM. "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."
In a 1975 stunt at the winter meetings, Hemond and White Sox owner Bill Veeck set up a table in the lobby of a Florida hotel with an "Open for Business Anytime" sign. They made four trades in an hour.
Veeck had Chicago’s publicity director call periodically, and Hemond would pretend he was answering calls from other teams.
"People would look around laughing, saying, Jesus, this looks like it’s working ’cause they’re getting phone calls," Hemond recalled decades later. "I don’t think you could re-enact it today."
Hemond was senior executive vice president of baseball operations for the Diamondbacks from 1996-2000. Then he went back to the White Sox as an adviser before returning to the Diamondbacks as a special assistant from 2007-20.
"Roland Hemond was one of the most respected executives that our game has ever known," baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "He mentored countless people in our sport and found ways to make our game stronger. Roland Hemond was a great gentleman whose contributions to our national pastime will never be forgotten."