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Beloved White Sox executive Roland Hemond dies at 92

Roland Hemond, a beloved baseball executive who served as White Sox general manager from 1970 to 1985, died in his sleep Sunday night, according to multiple reports. He was 92.

Roland Hemond (center), with White Sox rookie outfielder Ron Kittle (left) and Edmonton Oilers’ hockey sensation Wayne Gretzky on May 3, 1983, before a game in Chicago. (AP Photo/John Swart)
AP

Roland Hemond, a beloved baseball executive and scout who served as White Sox general manager from 1970 to ’85, died Sunday night. He was 92.

Honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame with the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011, Hemond served under three Sox owners — John W. Allyn, Bill Veeck and Jerry Reinsdorf — overseeing the 1983 American League West champion White Sox and the memorable 1977 South Side Hitmen squad. Hemond’s acquisition of Dick Allen in a trade with the Dodgers and other moves helped save a franchise that struggled at the gate in 1970, and he was named Executive of the Year by the Sporting News in 1972 after the Sox finished second behind the World Series champion Oakland Athletics in the AL West.

Hemond, who joined the Sox in tandem with manager Chuck Tanner, gave Tony La Russa his first manager’s job. The highlight of his time on the South Side was 1983, when La Russa guided the Sox to a division title. Hemond’s champagne-soaked jacket from the celebration is prominently displayed at Guaranteed Rate Field, and his fingerprints are also on the 2005 World Series champion Sox, serving as a special advisor to Sox GM Ken Williams in a role he filled from 2001 to ’07. Hemond also played important roles in building the expansion Los Angeles Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks from the ground up.

Hemond was known for his kindness, generosity and integrity, as well as his baseball expertise.

“The entire baseball world is saddened by the news of Roland Hemond’s passing after a long and incredibly impactful life,” Reinsdorf said in a statement Monday. “There is not a person in this game over the past 70 years who has not benefitted from his judgment, 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.”

Hemond rose to prominence in the late 1950s as assistant scouting director for the Milwaukee Braves. Serving in executive offices for seven teams, he was the Baltimore Orioles’ general manager from 1988 to ’95 and senior executive vice president of the Diamondbacks from 1996 to 2000.

When Williams became Sox GM in 2001, his first call was to -Hemond, his first hire.

“Roland was an invaluable advisor, confidant and friend as we captured the 2005 World Series,” Williams said.

“As one of the sport’s greatest ambassadors, there are a lot of people mourning Roland today while also telling stories of how he impacted their lives and the game. He will be missed by many.”

In addition to his 1972 Executive of the Year Award, Hemond claimed the same honor from United Press International as Sox GM in 1983. He was Sporting News Executive of the Year with the Orioles in 1989.

“For years and years, he’s been the most beloved figure in the game,” La Russa said. “He treated everyone with kindness and respect, and they returned it. Roland was a very nice man, but he also had the ability to make tough decisions. People forget that he was the guiding force to convince Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn in the early [1980s] that acquiring Carlton Fisk would not only be a good baseball move but also would show fans and the baseball world that the White Sox were serious about winning.”

Hemond worked in the commissioner’s office and USA -Baseball and started the Arizona Fall League. As recently as 2017, he was a special assistant to the president with the Diamondbacks.

“Roland Hemond was one of the most respected executives that our game has ever known,” commissioner Rob Manfred said.

Hemond, who died in his sleep, is survived by his wife, Margo; five children — Susan, Tere, Robert, Jay and Ryan — and grandchildren.