Bill Cutler, former MiLB team owner and president of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, passed away peacefully at his Mesa, Az. home after a long illness. He was 92.
Cutler was a popular figure as president of the PCL from 1979 to 1997, the final touch to a 50-year career in baseball.
“What a special human being, what a warmly liked baseball figure, so able to treat others with respect even when there were considerable differences to be resolved,” said current PCL President Branch Rickey. “He honored the Pacific Coast League with his exemplary fairness and professionalism, his commitment to making the league better. I am, in turn, truly blessed to follow in his footsteps, privileged to carry on that special legacy. The successes of his almost-20-year tenure are embedded everywhere in the current prestige of the PCL. He will be missed — but long remembered and genuinely admired.”
“Bill Cutler is a name synonymous with Minor League Baseball and especially the Pacific Coast League,” said MiLB President Pat O’Conner. “His experience at virtually every level of our game gave him insights and perspectives not many possess. Bill represented his teams and league with integrity and dignity. He was well liked and admired by his peers and set the standard for league presidents for years to come. Our sympathies, thoughts and prayers go out to Bill’s friends and family.”
“I was saddened to hear about the passing of Bill Cutler this morning,” said Mike Feder, current General Manager of the Tucson Padres. “For me, when I first came into the PCL in 1989, he was a tremendous asset. I always looked forward to our talks and his visits to Tucson. The baseball world lost a good man today. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
As the longest serving leader in its 109-year history, Cutler oversaw the expansion of the PCL to ten clubs, including three in Canada. In addition to Vancouver, which had entered the league in 1978, Edmonton joined in 1981, followed by Calgary in 1985. Under his leadership, the PCL benefitted from new ballparks being christened in the cities of Las Vegas, Colorado Springs, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Edmonton.
Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Mich., Cutler served his country during World War II. The beginnings of his career in baseball began as a result of a chance meeting in a taxi with then-President of the American League, Will Harridge, who told Cutler to look him up after completing his military service. Six months later, Cutler made that call, and was subsequently hired to work in the American League office in Chicago. In the following years, he joined the front office of Charlie Finley’s Oakland A’s, and later worked as a scout for the Montreal Expos.
In 1970, Bill purchased the PCL franchise in Portland, OR, then relocated the club to Spokane, WA, in 1973; he also served as the General Manager for the franchise in both locations. He sold the club in 1978 and became league president the following year, relocating the offices from Pennsylvania to Arizona.
Bill and his wife, Delores, were the proud parents of 12 children – nine girls and three boys. Bill’s love of the game has been passed down through the family, and further honored with the professional baseball playing careers of grandsons Brett Bordes and Jimmy Patterson.
Cutler was elected to the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame in 2005.
Former Minor League Baseball President Mike Moore said, “Bill was one of the great people of the game. He cared deeply about the game and his many friends he made along the way. He shall be missed.”
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