Bloomberg News

Lee MacPhail, Baseball Chief in Pine Tar Game, Dies at 95

November 09, 2012

Lee MacPhail, Former Baseball Executive, Dies at Age 95

Former Major League Baseball Commissioner Lee MacPhail watches the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, New York on July 25, 2004. Photographer: A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Lee MacPhail, the product of a baseball family who spent 45 years as an executive in the sport and ruled for George Brett in what became known as the Pine Tar Game at Yankee Stadium, has died at the age of 95.

MacPhail’s death was announced by the National Baseball Hall of Fame, where he was inducted in 1998 and was the oldest living member. The shrine in Cooperstown, New York, said he died last night of natural causes at his home in Delray Beach, Florida.

Born on Oct. 25, 1917, in Nashville, Tennessee, Leland Stanford MacPhail was from a baseball family. His father, Larry, was a long-time Major League Baseball executive and served as general manager of the Cincinnati Reds, Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees. They are the only father and son members of the Hall of Fame. His son, Andy, served as president of the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago Cubs and general manager of the Minnesota Twins.

“Baseball history has lost a great figure,” Jane Forbes Clark, chairwoman of the Hall, said in a press release. “He will always be remembered in Cooperstown as a man of exemplary kindness and a man who always looked after the best interests of the game.”

Before serving as American League president from 1974 to 1984, MacPhail was president and general manager of the Yankees from 1966 to 1974 and general manager of the Orioles.

The AL Championship Series Most Valuable Player Award is named for him.

Pine Tar

As league president, MacPhail oversaw the 1981 players’ strike and added expansion teams in Toronto and Seattle. In 1983, he overruled umpires in the Pine-Tar Game involving Brett, the Kansas City Royals’ third baseman, against the Yankees in New York.

After Brett’s ninth-inning home run put the Royals ahead 5- 4, plate umpire Tim McClelland called Brett out because the player had covered more than 18 inches of the bat’s barrel in pine tar, giving the Yankees the victory.

MacPhail upheld the Royals’ protest and the game resumed three weeks later from the point of Brett’s home run, resulting in a Kansas City victory.

Former Boston Red Sox second baseman Bobby Doerr, 94, is now the oldest living member of baseball’s Hall.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Buteau in Atlanta at mbuteau@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

Former Major League Baseball Commissioner Lee MacPhail watches the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, New York on July 25, 2004. Photographer: A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

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