GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Eddie Einhorn, a White Sox executive for 35 seasons who spent six decades in the sports and broadcasting industries, died late Tuesday night in New Jersey from complications following a stroke. He was 80.
"Eddie was a creative whirlwind whose ideas -- many of them far ahead of their time -- changed the landscape of sports, and sports on television, forever," White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said. "He was a man of many interests, projects, ideas and opinions, and we all will miss him dearly.
"It is exceedingly rare in this day and age to have enjoyed a friendship and a working partnership that lasted our lifetimes. We celebrated many great moments together."
Einhorn concluded his 25th season as vice chairman of the Chicago White Sox in 2015. He was the team's president and chief operating officer from 1981-90, and he was a member of the Chicago Bulls' board of directors as he continued his long-standing involvement with Reinsdorf that dated to law school at Northwestern. The two headed a limited partnership that purchased the White Sox in 1981.
"All of us at Major League Baseball are deeply saddened by the loss of White Sox vice chairman Eddie Einhorn, a leader in the world of sports and broadcasting," Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "He was a sports television pioneer and a huge champion of youth baseball. In recent years, he bridged those twin passions through the National Youth Baseball Championships, which appeared on MLB Network and MLB.com.
"A proud and loyal leader of the White Sox, owned by his longtime friend Jerry Reinsdorf, Eddie took delight in the franchise's momentous 2005 world championship. Most of all, for decades Eddie was a friend to seemingly all in the baseball and the broader sports communities. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to Eddie's wife Ann, their daughter -- and our former colleague -- Jenny, their son Jeff, and their entire family, as well as his countless friends throughout the White Sox organization and our game as a whole."
Einhorn was the founder and chairman of TVS Television Network, a leader in sports programming in the 1970s. The TVS telecast of college basketball's "Game of the Century" between the Houston Cougars and the UCLA Bruins at the Astrodome in 1968 is credited for the growth in popularity of college basketball on television.
The National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City inducted Einhorn as a contributor in 2011 for his vision in founding TVS in 1965 and for his role in catapulting college basketball into national prominence. Presented by Dick Enberg, Einhorn was joined in the class by players James Worthy, Ralph Sampson, Cazzie Russell and Chris Mullin; coaches Bob Knight and Eddie Sutton; and fellow contributor Joe Vancisin.
"He was an interesting man and a great man," White Sox head athletic trainer Herm Schneider said of Einhorn. "I've known him probably since day one, since Jerry and Eddie took over. He was an incredibly brilliant guy.
"A lot of people didn't know how brilliant he was. He did a lot with [pro] wrestling. He did a lot with the NCAA Tournament, which is basically his brainchild. He and I had a very special relationship with his family and my family and everything else. It really is a very sad day about that happening."
Einhorn authored a book entitled "How March Became Madness." It traced his days of televising college basketball in the 1960s to the present through interviews with more than 50 people responsible for the game's growth, including John Wooden, Elvin Hayes, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Digger Phelps and Enberg.
In an extensive interview with MLB.com 10 years ago, not long after Chicago's World Series victory, Einhorn also touched on his outlook for the future. He was in very good health at the time after undergoing a kidney transplant in October 2004.
"You just stay healthy and whatever you pick off from now on is gravy," Einhorn said. "I remember the words of a fellow named Joe E. Lewis, who was an old comedian. At the end of his act, he would say, 'You only live once, but if you work it right, once is enough.'
"That's how I live my life. I still plan to do some more things. I came from a kidney transplant a couple of years ago to an incredible year here. If I can keep on a streak like this, it would be pretty nice."
During his 30-plus years in baseball, Einhorn was a member of MLB's Schedule Format Committee, the Professional Baseball Association Committee and Player Development Committee, and was a member of the Television Committee from 1992-95. He was a key architect of The Baseball Network, MLB's joint broadcasting venture. Also recognized as the architect of baseball's first billion-dollar television contract, Einhorn was instrumental in negotiating MLB's 1990 deal with CBS and ESPN.
In 1989, Einhorn was appointed television consultant to the United States Olympic Committee and was responsible for a 200-hour Olympic television package that debuted in 1990. He was a television consultant for the U.S. Figure Skating Association for many years. Prior to joining Reinsdorf with the White Sox in 1981, Einhorn was the executive producer of "CBS Sports Spectacular." At CBS, he was responsible for more than 100 hours of programming per year and won an Emmy Award for "The Gossamer Albatross, Flight of Imagination," in 1980.
Of the many awards Einhorn received during his career, he most notably was honored by his hometown of Paterson, N.J., with the Mayor's Award for civic contribution. Einhorn founded Cooperstown Baseball World, a sports camp complex for kids in Oneonta, N.Y. As a longtime advocate of youth baseball, Einhorn was responsible for developing the National Youth Baseball Championship (NYBC), a tournament that crowns 10U through 14U national champions from the major youth travel baseball organizations.
Services will be held Sunday at noon ET at Louis Suburban Chapel in Fair Lawn, N.J. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Einhorn's name to the Professional Scouts Foundation.
The White Sox will honor Einhorn, who worked as a vendor at Comiskey Park from 1959-60, by wearing a sleeve patch during the regular season.
Einhorn stayed in the background during the World Series championship in 2005, but much like everyone else in the organization, he relished the amazing title run.
"It's like we were geniuses," Einhorn said in '06. "We've had plans for 25 years and thought we were pretty cool, but we never did it. This time the magic took."
White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams called Einhorn "one of the 10 greatest characters" that he's ever met in his life, and encouraged people to learn what Einhorn did in the landscape of sports television. Einhorn also was one of Williams' staunchest supporters in the early part of the decade and years before the franchise's 2005 World Series title, even when Williams was going for it and occasionally swinging and missing.
"I was taking some heat in the media and from some of our fans, and he was one of the guys that would make sure he would stop in and give a little bit of encouragement to continue on," Williams said. "I can hear him saying now, 'Keep swinging away because we are starving for a championship here. I'm loving what you are doing. Don't pay attention to anyone. Just keep swinging away for the fences.'
"Just little things like that, little bits of encouragement like that. They go a long way."
Manager Robin Ventura described Einhorn as "a great, great man," who was always fun to be around.
"I loved talking TV and college basketball, and not only what he meant to that sport, but sports in general," Ventura said. "A special man, and [he] was around here for a long time. A lot of people on staff knew him really well. It's sad."