He was a baseball lifer if there every was one, as we mark the passing of Roland Hemond, who impacted every level of the sport as an executive, scouting director and baseball fan. He was 92.
With a career that began as the assistant farm director for the Milwaukee Braves and included notable stops as farm and scouting director with the expansion Los Angeles Angels in 1961, stints with the Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles as GM, and an advisory career that including time with the White Sox and the Arizona Diamondbacks, Hemond was a constant and welcome presence in the baseball world, supportive of young talent and launching the careers of the likes of Tony La Russa, Doug Melvin, Ken Williams, Dan Evans, Dave Dombrowski, Derrick Hall and Joe Garagiola Jr. Along the way he was a co-founder of the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation, creator of the Arizona Fall League and tireless advocate for player pensions. He won MLB’s Executive of the Year Award three times as well: 1972, 1983 and ’89.
And long before MLB created a “One Baseball” structuring entering the 2021 season, Hemond was dedicated to the notion of the sport as all-embracing, encompassing the most powerful owners to the newest of MiLB employees.
“Roland Hemond was one of the most respected executives that our game has ever known,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said via press release. “Roland was a pivotal figure in the formation and growth of the Arizona Fall League. Most importantly, 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.”
“The entire baseball world is saddened by the news of Roland Hemond’s passing after a long and incredibly impactful life,” said White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf via press release. “Roland began his career in baseball in 1951, and there is not a person in this game over the past 70 years who has not benefitted from his judgement, friendship, mentorship and his many creative ideas that forever changed the game of baseball on the field and in the front office. Baseball owes Roland an immense debt of gratitude and its heartfelt thanks. After joining the White Sox in 1970, Roland served as director of player development, vice president, executive vice president/general manager and special assistant to the chairman. The highlight of his time as White Sox general manager in Chicago certainly came in 1983 with the American League West division title, the city’s first championship since 1963. His champagne-soaked suit from that clinching game still is prominently displayed in our ballpark.
“Joined by Tony La Russa, Dave Dombrowski, Walt Jocketty and Doug Melvin, I had the pleasure of seeing Roland just last month in Phoenix as he was enshrined in the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame. We shared a few words together, and we were able to thank him for all he had done for each of us, our careers, our teams and for baseball. Our thoughts go out today to his wonderful wife, Margo, their five children, his four grandchildren, and all people in baseball who mourn losing him but celebrate knowing him and all he leaves behind.”
In a statement, Ken Kendrick/Managing General Partner and Derrick Hall/President & CEO said: “Roland was one of baseball’s greatest ambassadors, and his impact on the game is beyond measure. We were lucky he was a D-back for 19 years as our organization is better because of his time here. His legacy will live on through those whose lives he touched and mentored on a daily basis as everyone who met him became a friend and had a favorite Roland story. One of his personal mottos, ‘Enjoy the moment,’ serves as a good reminder of a life well lived.”
Photos courtesy Baltimore Orioles and Arizona Diamondbacks.