Dalton was consummate GM

Dalton was consummate GM

Harry Dalton possessed a first-class baseball mind and he demonstrated that repeatedly over the course of a general managing career that spanned nearly three decades.

Dalton, now a candidate for the Hall of Fame on the Veterans Committee ballot, was the architect of the great Baltimore Orioles teams of the late 1960s and early 1970s. He also built the 1982 American League championship team in Milwaukee.

Among Dalton's most notable moves with the Orioles was the trade for Frank Robinson, who became the AL Most Valuable Player in 1966. Two years later, Dalton selected Earl Weaver as Baltimore's manager and the Orioles went on a run of unprecedented success.

Baltimore won four pennants in Dalton's six seasons as Orioles GM. He was named Executive of the Year by The Sporting News in 1970 and again in 1982.

Dalton was known for building a strong organizational foundation through scouting and player development. He surrounded himself with bright, aggressive baseball men, who eventually came to be known as "The Dalton Gang."

A graduate of Amherst College, Dalton served in the Air Force during the Korean War and won the Bronze Star. After briefly working as a sportswriter, Dalton joined the Orioles, working from 1954 to 1961 as assistant farm director. He moved up to farm director in 1961 and then became the equivalent of general manager in 1965. He served as GM of the California Angels from 1972 to 1977, and then as general manager of the Brewers from 1978 to 1992.

Commissioner Bud Selig, as president of the Brewers, brought Dalton on board as general manager. An expansion team that had only known losing seasons was transformed under Dalton's leadership into a contender and eventually a pennant-winner.

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

"Harry Dalton was a wonderful baseball man," Selig said. "I have very fond memories; I remember when I brought him here in November of 1977. I had known him when he was in Baltimore, he did a great job there, really was the architect of some of those magnificent Orioles teams, brought Earl Weaver to the Major Leagues. And then he went out to Anaheim, and I was eventually lucky enough to get him.

"Harry was a very, very smart, very, very shrewd, innovative front office man. And I think he was really in the first wave of the change from the old-time executives. He was extremely well-educated. He was in Mensa.

"He did just a terrific job, there's no doubt about it. Harry was one of the great baseball minds I've known and one of the great general managers of all time. The poor guy, he had to put up with me raving and ranting all those years, but he was really a devoted, dedicated baseball man."

Dalton, who died in 2005 at age 77 from complications of Parkinson's Disease, was known for his intellect, for a sense of humor that was both droll and quick, and for his insight, both in baseball and human terms. In evaluating players, he spoke of the importance of "the lower half," the portion of the player that could not be seen, the intangible qualities. Dalton was always widely regarded as a person who could have succeeded in any walk of life. His love for baseball drew him to the game and kept him in it for his entire working life.

"I have an extraordinarily high regard for his ability as a general manager, and just as important, the same high regard for him as a human being," Selig said. "He was a first-rate baseball man and a first-rate human being in every way."

The Veterans Committee composite-ballot elections to the Hall of Fame are held every four years. The Committee consists of all the living Hall of Famers, all the living recipients of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, the writers' Hall of Fame award, and all the living recipients of the Ford C. Frick Award, the broadcasters' Hall of Fame award. As in the case of the normal balloting for the Hall of Fame, candidates must receive votes on 75 percent of the ballots cast to earn election. Results of the current Veterans Committee election will be announced on Feb. 27.

Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.