Lee MacPhail, who had a huge impact on the game of baseball as a front-office executive and president of the American League, passed away last Thursday. He was 95.
MacPhail began his baseball career with the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940s and then moved to the New York Yankees, joining his father, Larry MacPhail, in the front office. After a stint with the Baltimore Orioles, MacPhail assumed the presidency of the American League in 1974 during a time when a league presidency held real power — and he exercised that power, engineering an expansion in 1977 and occupying a central role in the baseball world.
There are many great families of baseball — the Rickeys, the Veecks, the Bragans — and the MacPhails are definitely at the top of the list. We’re talking three generations of MacPhails impacting baseball. Leland Stanford “Larry” MacPhail, while working for Powel Crosley and the Cincinnati Reds, instituted daily radio broadcasts (hiring the great Red Barber in the process) and scheduled the first night game in Major League Baseball. Son Andy MacPhail led the Minnesota Twins to a World Series win in 1987 as general manager. Larry MacPhail and Lee MacPhail are the only father-son duo in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
“Lee MacPhail was one of the great executives in baseball history and a Hall of Famer in every sense, both personally and professionally,” said MLB Commissioner Bud Selig in a statement. “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. He was not only a remarkable league executive, but was a true Baseball man as is evidenced by his brilliant leadership of the storied New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles franchises. Lee always put the interests of the sport first and through his love of the game taught all of us to cherish it in every way. Major League Baseball and all of our Clubs feel a great sense of loss today, and I send my deepest condolences to one of the first families of the national pastime.”
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