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Hall of Fame exec Pat Gillick open to leading Cubs

PGillick | Getty Images file

Pat Gillick | Getty Images file

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Updated: October 27, 2011 12:33AM

Don’t dismiss the idea of the Cubs hiring Pat Gillick just yet.

Gillick, for one, hasn’t ruled it out.

As one of the most respected executives in baseball prepared for his induction into the Hall of Fame on Sunday, he told the Sun-Times on Thursday that he’s open to leaving his consultant job with the Philadelphia Phillies for a president-level job with the Cubs or another team.

Asked specifically about the possibility and challenge of joining the Cubs’ front office, Gillick reiterated earlier comments that he’s not interested in another general manager’s job.

‘‘If I did anything else, it would have to be something in a presidency role that would interest me,’’ he said by phone from Cooperstown, N.Y. ‘‘As far as an advisory or consultant job, I’ve got a great deal in Philadelphia. There would be no reason for me to go any other place in an advisory or consultant role. We’re in first place. I like it here. The people are great to me.

‘‘If something came up where it would be above the GM position, I would think about it.’’

While rumors and speculation linking Gillick to the Cubs have ramped up in recent weeks, the man in charge of World Series championships with the Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays denied a WSCR-AM (670) report that he already has talked with Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts.

‘‘That’s not true,’’ said Gillick, who has heard the rumors, too. ‘‘I don’t know Tom Ricketts at all and have never spoken to him.’’

Ricketts said the same Wednesday through a spokesman.

Meanwhile, those close to Ricketts are quick to mention his admiration and respect for Gillick, even in the context of a ‘‘what if’’ proposition should the Cubs look to add another baseball executive to the front office.

It’s hard to imagine a better fit than Gillick. And with the Cubs locked in the throes of one of their worst seasons, he would be the kind of hire to inspire hope for an angry and disheartened fan base.

Especially if Ricketts stays the course with general manager Jim Hendry through at least the end of his contract next season.

It has been suggested far and wide since the Ricketts family bought the team in 2009 that it hire a baseball man as team president instead of sticking with business-minded baseball outsider Crane Kenney.

Only five weeks ago, Ricketts scoffed at the idea of ‘‘a baseball guy to watch my baseball guy.’’

But with his team sinking deeper into the muck by the week and offseason decisions looming larger, Ricketts’ position might be softening, especially given the apparent availability of a Hall of Fame executive who has overseen championship turnarounds everywhere he has been in charge.

Gillick, who turns 74 next month, would seem well-suited to oversee any direction ownership might want to take, including working with a current GM he seems to respect.

‘‘He’s a good baseball man,’’ Gillick said of Hendry, ‘‘and a guy you can talk to and a guy that doesn’t fool around and play a lot of games. If he wants to make a deal with you, he’s very straightforward and gets to the point, without a lot of nonsense or peripheral discussion. When you talk to Jim, I’ve always considered him very forthright.’’

Gillick also said he’s well versed on what the Cubs have in their farm system, based on weekly conference calls with Phillies scouts and through the Phillies’ new Class AAA manager, Ryne Sandberg, who spent the last four seasons managing in the Cubs’ minor-league chain.

‘‘I’m not interested in the business side or marketing or television. That’s not my expertise,’’ Gillick said. ‘‘Where I can help and support is on the other side, on the baseball side.

‘‘If something comes down the pike, I’d take a look at it.’’

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