The 13th greatest GM of all time is lucky people aren’t always judged by their worst moments


Mark Armour and Dan Levitt have written a book: In Pursuit of Pennants, which examines how front offices have historically found innovative ways to build winning teams. In support of that, they are counting down the top-25 GMs of all time over at their blog. Since it’s slow season, I’m going to continue linking to the countdown as it’s great stuff we rarely read about in the normal course.

Most people my age know Dodgers executive Al Campanis as the guy who voiced some seriously racist crap on Nightline back in 1987:

People younger than me likely don’t know who he is, because as soon as he was fired following those comments, he began to, basically, be scrubbed from the good side of the ledger of Dodgers history, with his infamous remarks being his primary calling card.

But, as Mark and Dan remind us today, Campanis was really, really good at what he did. Not just as a GM between 1969 and 1987s — which is all he’s being graded on here — but as a Dodgers scout and scouting director for the 20 years before that. In those roles he was, perhaps, more responsible for the Dodgers’ excellence from the 1950s through the 1980s. Really, go read this post on him and see just how many things he did for the Dodgers which made them the Dodgers. Hell, if he did nothing else, his 1968 draft would put him in the inner circle. That year he got Ron Cey, Dave Lopes, Steve Garvey, Doyle Alexander, Joe Ferguson, Geoff Zahn, and Bill Buckner. ALL IN ONE DRAFT.

But most people have forgotten that now. Mostly because of something Campanis said that was, rightly, unforgettable. Funny how life works.