Schuerholz’s forte: Building winners
Hall of Famer won titles in each league
John Schuerholz’s storied professional baseball career began with a letter.
Schuerholz, a baseball and soccer player in college, had just graduated from Towson State University and was pursuing a career as a teacher when he sent an inquiry letter to then-Baltimore Orioles owner Jerold Hoffberger in 1966. It was a last attempt to return to the sport he loved, and he was hired as the personal assistant to Lou Gorman, the Orioles’ director of player development, and began to make his mark on the sport.
Three years later, he was working in the expansion Kansas City Royals front office and would rise to become one of baseball’s best general managers. Fifty-one years later, Schuerholz, 76, enters the Hall of Fame.
Schuerholz moved up to Royals director of scouting and player development in 1976 and vice president of player personnel in 1979. In 1981, Schuerholz began his career as the Royals general manager and, at 41, was the youngest GM in the major leagues. He got the Royals to the World Series in 1985, when they defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in a seven-game classic.
Schuerholz left for the Atlanta Braves in 1990. It was a team that had failed to win more than 72 games the previous six seasons. Along with manager Bobby Cox, he helped mold Atlanta into a consistent winner that would claim a record 14 consecutive division titles starting in 1991, Schuerholz’s first season on the job.
“I had to somehow get rid of the losing mentality the organization suffered from,” Schuerholz told author Dan Schlossberg for the book When the Braves Ruled the Diamond. “I had to defeat and eradicate apathy. Before I took the job, I analyzed the team’s strengths, assets and deficiencies. The decision I reached was made after analyzing all the things I’d found to be good, not so good and even downright disappointing about the Braves.”
The Braves won the National League pennant in 1991, losing a seven-game World Series to the Minnesota Twins, but won the 1995 World Series title against the Cleveland Indians. Schuerholz became the first GM to win a World Series title in both leagues and reached three other World Series with the Braves.
In 2007, Schuerholz became the Braves team president, a position he held until 2016. He is now a Braves vice chairman and serves as an adviser to the team.
Schuerholz will be the sixth inductee into the Hall of Fame whose primary job was as an executive. He was elected unanimously on the Today’s Game Era ballot, which includes players, managers and executives from 1988 to present.
“I knew that I had to work hard and keep my eyes and ears open and learn from people and have a work ethic that was appropriately required and expected,” he told The Baltimore Sun in December. “And I did that.”
John Schuerholz, right, was the architect of a Braves team that won 14 consecutive division crowns.