Baseball executive, Hall of Famer
By ASSOCIATED PRESS November 10, 2012 5:56PM
FILE - In this Dec. 11, 1959 file photo, Baltimore Orioles new president Lee MacPhail is photographed in front of the Baltimore Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Md. Baseball's Hall of Fame says former American League President Lee MacPhail has died at 95. He died Thursday night, Nov. 8, 2012 at his home in Delray Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/File)
Updated: December 11, 2012 6:15AM
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Lee MacPhail, the longtime baseball executive who ruled in the celebrated Pine Tar case and later became part of the only father-son Hall of Fame pairing, has died. He was 95.
Mr. MacPhail, father of former Cubs President Andy MacPhail, was the oldest Hall of Famer. He died Thursday night at his home in Delray Beach, Fla., the shrine said Friday.
“There’s not much I haven’t done off the field other than commissioner,” he said during a 1985 interview with The Associated Press when he retired after 41/2 decades in the sport.
In the second generation of one of baseball’s most prominent families, Mr. MacPhail’s most well-known moment in baseball came in 1983. He upheld Kansas City’s protest in the Pine Tar Game against the New York Yankees, restoring a ninth-inning home run to Royals slugger George Brett — also a future Hall of Famer.
“Lee MacPhail was one of the great executives in baseball history and a Hall of Famer in every sense, both personally and professionally,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. “His hallmarks were dignity, common sense and humility. He was not only a remarkable league executive, but was a true baseball man.”
With Mr. MacPhail’s death, Bobby Doerr at 94 becomes the oldest living Hall of Famer.
“Baseball history has lost a great figure in Lee MacPhail, whose significant impact on the game spanned five decades,” Hall chairman Jane Forbes Clark said. “He will always be remembered in Cooperstown as a man of exemplary kindness and a man who always looked after the best interests of the game.”
Lee MacPhail was the son of Larry MacPhail, a top executive with the Cincinnati Reds, Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees.
“Over his lifetime in baseball, Lee made many significant contributions that helped to make the game what it is today,” former players’ union head Don Fehr said.
Said union founding executive director Marvin Miller: “Lee was a good man, trustworthy and honest, and I had a decent relationship with him over the years.”
Born Leland Stanford MacPhail Jr. in Nashville, Tenn., on Oct. 25, 1917, he was general manager at minor league Reading, went on to work for the Yankees in 1949 and spent a decade as farm director and player personnel director, with players he developed winning seven World Series titles.
He moved to the Baltimore Orioles as general manager in 1959 and six years later returned to New York as chief administrative assistant for new baseball Commissioner Spike Eckert. He returned to the Yankees as general manager from 1967-73, and left after George Steinbrenner bought the team to become AL president in 1974.
In the famed Pine Tar case, MacPhail overruled plate umpire Tim McClelland and crew chief Joe Brinkman and restored a home run to Brett. After Yankees manager Billy Martin argued that Brett’s bat had excessive pine tar when he hit a two-run, ninth-inning homer at Yankees Stadium on July 24, McClelland called Brett out, the final out in a 4-3 New York victory.