Harry Dalton

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Harry Dalton at age 27 in 1955, when he was assistant farm system director for the Baltimore Orioles

Harry I. Dalton (August 23, 1928 — October 23, 2005) was an American front-office executive in Major League Baseball. He served as general manager of three American League teams, the Baltimore Orioles (1966–1971), California Angels (1972–1977) and Milwaukee Brewers (1978–1991), and was a principal architect of the Orioles' dynasty of 1966–1974 as well as the only AL championship the Brewers ever won (1982).

Born in West Springfield, Massachusetts — the same hometown of Baseball Hall of Fame manager Leo Durocher — Dalton graduated from Amherst College and served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War, earning a Bronze Star. After a brief stint as a sportswriter in Springfield, he joined the front office of the Orioles — newly reborn as the relocated St. Louis Browns — in 1954. For the next 11 years, Dalton worked his way up the organizational ladder, rising to the position of director of the Orioles' successful farm system.

In the autumn of 1965, Baltimore general manager Lee MacPhail departed to become top aide to the new Commissioner of Baseball, William Eckert. Dalton was named Director of Player Personnel — in effect, MacPhail's successor. His first order of business was to complete a trade that brought Cincinnati Reds outfielder Frank Robinson to Baltimore for pitchers Milt Pappas and Jack Baldschun and a minor league outfielder. Robinson, 1961 National League Most Valuable Player, was one of the greatest stars in the game, but he had developed a strained relationship with the Cincinnati front office. In Baltimore, he would team with third baseman Brooks Robinson to lead the O's to the 1966 and 1970 World Series championships, and pennants in 1969 and 1971. Dalton was the man who hired Earl Weaver as manager, brought to the Majors young stars such as Bobby Grich and Don Baylor, and acquired key players such as Mike Cuellar, Pat Dobson and Don Buford. (Weaver, Frank Robinson and Brooks Robinson, along with pitching great Jim Palmer, a product of Dalton's farm system, are all in the Hall in Fame.)

After the Orioles lost the 1971 World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Dalton was hired to turn around a stumbling Angels franchise. He acquired the great pitcher Nolan Ryan in a December 1971 trade with the New York Mets, but during Dalton's six seasons in Anaheim the team never posted a winning record. After the 1977 season, the Angels hired veteran executive Buzzie Bavasi as Dalton's boss, then released Dalton from his contract so that he could become the general manager of the Brewers.

Milwaukee had a group of talented young players, such as Robin Yount, Cecil Cooper and rookie Paul Molitor, but the eight-year-old Brewers had never had a winning season. In 1978, Dalton hired George Bamberger, Weaver's pitching coach for many years, as the Brewers' new manager, and the team gelled into contenders in the American League East Division. By 1981, they made the playoffs and in 1982, Milwaukee won its first and only American League pennant (the Brewers moved to the National League Central Division in 1998). In the 1982 World Series, the "Harvey's Wallbangers" Brewers of manager Harvey Kuenn lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.

The Brewers contended in 1983, but then began to struggle on the field. The team rebounded in 1987–1988, but when it returned to its losing ways, Dalton's position was weakened and after a poor 1991 season, he was replaced as general manager by Sal Bando. Dalton, who remained a consultant in the Milwaukee front office through his 1994 retirement, nevertheless was one of the most respected men in baseball, who had trained other successful general managers such as John Schuerholz, Lou Gorman and Dan Duquette, a fellow Amherst alumnus.

On July 24, 2003, Dalton was inducted into the Milwaukee Brewers Walk of Fame outside Miller Park.

Harry Dalton died at age 77 in Scottsdale, Arizona of complications from Parkinson's Disease.

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Preceded by
Lee MacPhail
Baltimore Orioles General Manager
19651971
Succeeded by
Frank Cashen
Preceded by
Dick Walsh
California Angels General Manager
19711977
Succeeded by
Buzzie Bavasi
Preceded by
Jim Baumer
Milwaukee Brewers General Manager
19771991
Succeeded by
Sal Bando
Preceded by
John McHale
The Sporting News
Major League Baseball
Executive of the Year

1982
Succeeded by
Hank Peters