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Exec Paul spent life as baseball man

Exec Paul spent life as baseball man

Gabe Paul was born with baseball in his blood. It wasn't the type of DNA that made for diving plays in the infield and a powerful swing at the plate. But rather a drive for the business side of baseball that paved the way for today's game.

Paul, who served as a general manager for three Major League teams, is on the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee ballot. A candidate must get 75 percent of the vote to gain election. Results of the 2007 Veterans Committee election will be announced on Feb. 27, and the induction ceremony will take place on July 29 in Cooperstown.

Paul was best known for changing the Minor League draft system from drawing numbers out of a hat to drafting in reverse order of the finish in the standings. He also directed the fight to divide each Major League into two divisions and pushed through free agent drafting of players.

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Paul was an early advocate for the designated hitter and helped put through the rule change that required fielders to bring their gloves in off the field after each half-inning.

Born in Rochester, N.Y., Paul started his baseball career by shining shoes and being a bat boy. When he was 16, he worked for a Rochester team in the Double-A International League as a ticket manager and met Warren Giles.

Giles bought the St. Louis Cardinals in 1928 and took over the front office of the Cincinnati Reds in 1937. In Cincinnati, Giles hired Paul of the Reds' traveling secretary. Paul then served in the military for two years and when he returned from World War II, he was promoted to assistant GM.

In 1951, Giles moved on to be the president of the National League and Paul stepped in to be Cincinnati GM.

"Gabe has done a great job for me," Giles said at the time to the Associated Press. "He will do a great job for Cincinnati."

Paul proved Giles right as he revamped the Reds starting with the Minor League system by signing Latin American and African-American players.

2007 Hall of Fame Inductions
  2007 Candidates  
The 2007 Veterans Committee ballot features 27 candidates on the player ballot, 15 on the composite ballot.
Players ballot
Dick Allen
Bobby Bonds
Ken Boyer
Rocky Colavito
Wes Ferrell
Curt Flood
Joe Gordon
Gil Hodges
Jim Kaat
Mickey Lolich
Sparky Lyle
Marty Marion
Roger Maris
Carl Mays
Minnie Minoso
Thurman Munson
Don Newcombe
Lefty O'Doul
Tony Oliva
Al Oliver
Vada Pinson
Ron Santo
Luis Tiant
Joe Torre
Cecil Travis
Mickey Vernon
Maury Wills
 
Composite ballot
Buzzie Bavasi
August Busch Jr.
Harry Dalton
Charlie Finley
Doug Harvey
Whitey Herzog
Bowie Kuhn
Billy Martin
Marvin Miller
Walter O'Malley
Gabe Paul
Paul Richards
Bill White
Dick Williams
Phil Wrigley

In 1956, Paul was named executive of the year as the Reds finished third with 91 wins. Cincinnati's lineup, with players such as Ted Kluszewski, Frank Robinson, Gus Bell, Wally Post and Ed Bailey, combined for 221 homers.

Four years later, Paul left for Houston to be the first GM of the expansion Colt .45s. Paul was supposed to prepare Houston for the 1962 debut season, but he left after a few months to return to Ohio for a job with the Cleveland Indians. Paul became part-owner of the team, as well as president and GM. But the Indians weren't successful in the American League and the club was even rumored to be on the move.

Paul found real success when he left the Indians and helped George Steinbrenner buy the Yankees from CBS. Paul became the team's president in 1973 and teamed up with Steinbrenner to rebuild the Yankees into a champion. The club won its first AL pennant in 12 years in 1976, and its first World Series Championship since 1962 the next year.

Paul was able to pull off a number of trades that included grabbing players such as Lou Piniella, Bucky Dent, Willie Randolph, Mickey Rivers and Dick Tidrow. He also signed Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson as free agents.

But after winning the series, the Yankees changed senior executives and Paul's authority altered with New York. He returned to Cleveland as the team's president in 1978, but Paul never made a playoff run with the Tribe and retired in 1984.

Paul died at age 88 in Tampa, Fla.

"Gabe Paul was a dear friend and the most knowledgeable baseball man I ever met in my 25 years in the game," Steinbrenner told the Associated Press after Paul's funeral. "He was responsible for our group being able to purchase the Yankees from CBS. ... He was a wonderful man and he will be deeply missed."

"Gabe Paul was a baseball man all his life," Yankee Stadium public address announcer Bob Sheppard said in a tribute after Paul's death. "Let us now remember him with affection, admiration and respect."

Ryan Quinn is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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