Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011
By Brett Ballantini
Longtime baseball executive Roland Hemond, who was the GM of the White Sox from 1970-85, was honored with the Buck ONeil Lifetime Achievement Award, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced.
The award was created in ONeils name in 2008, designated no more than once every three years and to recipients deemed to have made extraordinary efforts popularizing baseball in a manner comparable to the Negro League legend himself. Hemond is just the second winner of the honor.
Hemond, while currently a Arizona Diamondbacks executive, still associates himself very strongly with the White Sox, making routine appearances at gatherings such as SoxFest. While appearing there in January, he laughingly admitted having some second thoughts about coming because, in reference to his Diamondbacks pitching for the services of free agent Paul Konerko, You guys out-Konerkod us.
As White Sox GM, Hemond was named the Sporting News Executive of the Year in 1972 and 1983. The 1972 White Sox won 87 games and made a run at the American League West title, while the 1983 Winning Ugly team was a baseballs-best 99-63 in winning the West. Hemond was an executive advisor to Williams from 200-07, helping the White Sox in 2005 to its first World Series title in 88 years.
Hemond is responsible for a pension plan for MLB employees and creating the Arizona Fall League, credits cited by Jerry Reinsdorf on Tuesday. But the White Sox owner praised his former employee for much more than that.
The award is about even more than lasting accomplishments, Reinsdorf said. It also recognizes and honors the attitude, optimism, and positive approach Roland brought to the ballpark each and every day, and the wonderful friendships he has maintained within the game and literally thousands of baseball fans over the years.
Reinsdorfs words touch even my relationship with Roland. As someone who spent many years writing White Sox historical pieces for the team game program, Hemond was a valuable asset to call upon, a virtual encyclopedia of baseball history. When I sat at SoxFest 2007, peddling my Ozzie Guillen book to fellow fans a bit more interested in autographs and photographs, Hemond sat with me for much longer than he should have, sharing stories and telling tales. I joked that I owed him some commission on sales he was making on my behalf, but Im sure he knew that was somewhat akin to multiplying by zero.
Still, Roland, I owe you a check, or at least a hot dog sometime.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.