Former MLB American League President LEE MACPHAIL, who also was a Yankees and Orioles GM and the oldest member of the Baseball HOF, died on Thursday at his home in Delray Beach, Fla., according to Richard Goldstein of the N.Y. TIMES. He was 95. In a career that "spanned five decades," MacPhail “held virtually every baseball executive position except commissioner.” MacPhail was “probably best remembered for being at the center of a baseball storm: the pine-tar dispute of July 1983.” In a game between the Yankees and the Royals at Yankee Stadium, an umpire “disallowed a go-ahead home run by GEORGE BRETT of the Royals with two outs in the ninth inning, ruling that Brett had too much pine tar on his bat.” MacPhail as AL President “overruled the umpire, citing ‘the spirit of the rules.’” MacPhail became AL President in ‘74 with the retirement of JOE CRONIN and “served two five-year terms.” He “ran the player relations committee, management’s labor relations arm, from 1983 to 1985, then retired from baseball.” In ‘98, 20 years after his father, former baseball exec LARRY MACPHAIL, was inducted, Lee MacPhail was “enshrined at Cooperstown” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/10).
GUIDING LIGHT: MLB Commissioner BUD SELIG said in a statement, “Lee MacPhail was one of the great executives in Baseball history and a Hall of Famer in every sense, both personally and professionally. I had great admiration for Lee as American League President, and he was respected and liked by everyone with whom he came in contact. His hallmarks were dignity, common sense and humility” (MLB). Baseball writer Murray Chass wrote MLB has "never had an abundance of honest, candid people, and now there is one less" (MURRAYCHASS.com, 11/11). MLB.com's Marty Noble wrote MacPhail was "baseball's King Solomon; he understood the greater good of the game and worked for it." Neither "conservative nor liberal in his baseball politics, he helped usher in the designated-hitter rule, presided over the expansion of the American League, was the integral force in the settlement of the protracted players' strike in 1981 and used his considerable influence to bring Interleague Play to the fore" (MLB.com, 11/9).