Architect Hemond watches finished project with pride

October 11, 1997|By KEN ROSENTHAL

If you know Roland Hemond, you know that he's not bitter. You know that after a long day with the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks, he's heading straight to the television and rooting for the Orioles.

Rooting for the players he acquired.

Rooting for the team he rebuilt.

Yes, rooting for Pat Gillick and Kevin Malone and even Peter Angelos.

"There's always a part of you that remains with an organization you've been with," Hemond, the Orioles' GM from November 1987 until November 1995, and now the Diamondbacks' senior vice president of baseball operations, was saying Thursday.

"When I left other organizations, it was the same way. I'm sort of a fan as well as a baseball person. I always enjoy the success of the players with whom I've been associated.

"They're a part of you. You're grateful for what they've done for you. You want them to continue to prosper. When they contribute, have success, that's great."

These Orioles bear the mark of Gillick, who has made all the right moves in guiding the franchise to back-to-back postseason appearances after a 13-year drought.

Under Hemond, the Orioles finished second twice and third three times. He revived a franchise that crashed with an 0-21 start and 107-loss season in 1988. And, in time, perhaps history will judge him more kindly.

He never got the Orioles to the postseason.

But he was the setup man, enabling Gillick to close.

"What is happening here was waiting to happen," said Malone, the Orioles' assistant GM. "He had built the foundation. There was a solid enough foundation that we were able to take it to the next level."

Gillick, too, is grateful.

"I think overall there was a pretty good nucleus of guys that he left," he said. "In fact, there were a few guys Roland left who went other places and did well -- [Jamie] Moyer, [Kevin] Brown, [Ben] McDonald.

"The only thing they were kind of missing was a guy at second base. I guess you could have gone with the guy at third [Leo Gomez], I don't know. But that was a pretty good nucleus," he said, listing Rafael Palmeiro, Cal Ripken, Brady Anderson, Mike Mussina and Bobby Bonilla.

Of course, Hemond didn't obtain all those players himself -- Ripken was in place when he arrived, and Angelos chose Palmeiro over Will Clark and ordered the trade for Bonilla.

Gillick added free agents B. J. Surhoff, Roberto Alomar and Randy Myers in his first off-season, Jimmy Key, Mike Bordick and Eric Davis in his second.

Still, as he said, Hemond provided the nucleus.

It was his regime that traded for Anderson, Chris Hoiles, Scott Erickson, Alan Mills and Harold Baines (the first time).

It was his regime that drafted Mike Mussina and Jeffrey Hammonds.

It was his regime that refused to part with Armando Benitez and Arthur Rhodes.

Incredibly enough, the disastrous '88 season helped create the foundation. Hemond started trading off veterans, and acquired the Orioles' catcher and center fielder for the next 10 years.

That would be Hoiles, who is signed through 1999 (all right, not the brightest idea), and Anderson, who is expected to agree to a multi-year deal at the end of the season.

Ask Hemond about a trade, and he'll tell you about the scout who recommended it or the executive who pushed for it, deflecting the credit, sharing the acclaim.

You didn't expect him to change two weeks shy of his 68th birthday, did you? He remains a company man two years after leaving the company. Occasionally, he slips and refers to the Orioles as "us."

Let's revisit some of his trades, skipping those that involved first basemen (Eddie Murray, Glenn Davis, even David Segui) to focus on Hemond's accomplishments.

Anderson: Hemond acquired him from Boston along with future NL strikeout king Curt Schilling for Mike Boddicker on July 30, 1988.

4 Of course, it took Anderson awhile to get going.

"I recall Brady, with that great sense of humor of his," Hemond said. "It must have been the third year we had him. I said, 'Leo Labossiere, the scout who recommended you, is in the park today. I'd like to introduce you to him.'

"He said, 'I thought you must have fired him by now.' "

Hoiles: Hemond acquired him from Detroit with pitchers Robinson Garces and Cesar Mejia for Fred Lynn on Aug. 31, 1988.

Remember this one? The trade was made right at the deadline for setting postseason rosters, and Lynn had to scramble to get from Anaheim to join the Tigers by midnight.

"He didn't make it, but [then commissioner] Peter Ueberroth said it was an inadequate rule," Hemond said. "Had the Tigers made it to the postseason, he was going to allow Lynn on their postseason roster.

"It led to a new rule -- now the trade just has to be done by midnight. We could have thrown in the towel and said just forget it. [Former club president] Larry [Lucchino] did a masterful job of staying with it until the last possible moment."

Erickson: Hemond acquired him from Minnesota for pitcher Scott Klingenbeck and outfielder Kimera Bartee on July 7, 1995.

This was Hemond's last big trade, if you give Bonilla to Angelos.

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