Discussion:
Bill Lajoie 76 Detroit Tigers Executive
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MWB
2010-12-29 13:07:03 UTC
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DETROIT (AP) — Longtime baseball executive Bill Lajoie, whose eye for
talent helped build the Detroit Tigers team that won the 1984 World
Series championship, died Tuesday. He was 76.

Tigers spokesman Brian Britten said the team first learned of Lajoie's
death from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Lajoie had been working as a
special assistant to the Pirates. The Detroit News reported he died at
his home near Sarasota, Fla. Britten said he couldn't confirm the
location or the cause of death.

"Bill played an integral role in building the Detroit Tigers into a
world championship team in 1984 and a division title winner in 1987,"
Tigers general manager David Dombrowski said in an e-mail to The
Associated Press. "Bill was a respected and highly regarded baseball
executive who made significant contributions to the Tigers franchise
and the game of baseball."

"Mr. Lajoie impacted the lives and careers of a countless number of
players, scouts and front office executives," Pirates general manager
Neal Huntington said in a statement. "He was a terrific evaluator of
talent, an outstanding baseball man, a tremendous mentor and a better
friend."

Lajoie was born in the Detroit suburb of Wyandotte, played baseball at
Western Michigan University and made it as far as Triple-A ball as an
outfielder.

He joined the Tigers as a scout in 1968 and helped land the likes of
future stars Kirk Gibson, Jack Morris, Willie Hernandez, Lance
Parrish, Dan Petry, Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker.

"I thought we had a good team going to spring training that year,"
Lajoie said in an interview 15 years later. "But getting (pitcher)
Willie (Hernandez) just before camp ended really added a lot."
Hernandez had 32 saves, winning the AL Cy Young and MVP Awards that
season.

Whitaker, who grew up in Martinsville, Va., was shy and quiet and
hesitant to sign a professional contract because he didn't have much
of a wardrobe. Lajoie bought him two suits, and Whitaker signed.

"I roomed with him for 10 years in Lakeland, (Fla.)," Tigers manager
Jim Leyland, long a manager in Detroit's farm system, told The Detroit
News. "He was a great teacher for me. We'd sit there and talk
baseball, hours on end.

"I would write a lot of it down because he really knew the game. And
he really knew talent. But his greatest knack was finding the pieces
that completed the puzzle."

Lajoie was scouting director and assistant general manager for the
Tigers before coming general manager in 1984, a job he held till 1990.

Among his last moves at Detroit was the signing of Cecil Fielder as a
free agent from Japan for the 1990 season. Fielder had 51 home runs
that year.

After leaving Detroit, Lajoie served as an assistant for the Boston
Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves and
Milwaukee Brewers.
Michael O'Connor
2010-12-29 13:45:01 UTC
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Was he related to HOFer Nap Lajoie, longtime Cleveland Indian second
baseman?
s***@gmail.com
2018-07-26 04:52:42 UTC
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Post by Michael O'Connor
Was he related to HOFer Nap Lajoie, longtime Cleveland Indian second
baseman?
Bill James said recently he was Nap Lajoie's grandson: https://www.billjamesonline.com/from_lajoie_to_doerr/

(I was searching for the answer to this question myself, and found your post before seeing the recent Bill James article!)
MJ Emigh
2018-07-26 11:53:41 UTC
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Post by s***@gmail.com
Post by Michael O'Connor
Was he related to HOFer Nap Lajoie, longtime Cleveland Indian second
baseman?
Bill James said recently he was Nap Lajoie's grandson: https://www.billjamesonline.com/from_lajoie_to_doerr/
(I was searching for the answer to this question myself, and found your post before seeing the recent Bill James article!)
That sounds right. There's no mention of a connection on Baseball Reference, which is usually pretty thorough on that stuff. In case it helps in looking things up, Nap's name was actually Napoleon.
Bermuda999
2010-12-29 13:46:05 UTC
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FoxSports and many others report the death thusly:

"Bill LaJoie, a key part of building the 1984 world champion Detroit
Tigers, died on Tuesday. Lajoie, 76, passed away while taking a nap
after lunch, according to a close associate."

Which makes it a little harder for anyone trying to see if Bill Lajoie
was related to Nap.
Louis Epstein
2010-12-30 00:38:57 UTC
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Bermuda999 <***@aol.com> wrote:
: FoxSports and many others report the death thusly:
:
: "Bill LaJoie, a key part of building the 1984 world champion Detroit
: Tigers, died on Tuesday. Lajoie, 76, passed away while taking a nap
: after lunch, according to a close associate."
:
: Which makes it a little harder for anyone trying to see if Bill Lajoie
: was related to Nap.

He could have been related to Nap whether or not he took a nap.

-=-=-
The World Trade Center towers MUST rise again,
at least as tall as before...or terror has triumphed.
Bermuda999
2010-12-29 14:22:12 UTC
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On Dec 29, 8:07 am, MWB <***@gmail.com> wrote:

...
Post by MWB
Lajoie was scouting director and assistant general manager for the
Tigers before coming general manager in 1984, a job he held till 1990.
Among his last moves at Detroit was the signing of Cecil Fielder as a
free agent from Japan for the 1990 season.
...

Three years after he had traded a 20-year-old John Smoltz to Atlanta
for ... Doyle Alexander (almost 37 at the time).
Michael O'Connor
2010-12-29 14:50:26 UTC
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Post by Bermuda999
Three years after he had traded a 20-year-old John Smoltz to Atlanta
for ... Doyle Alexander (almost 37 at the time).
The Alexander trade probably won the Tigers the 1987 AL East Division,
as Alexander was 9-0 with Detroit and the Tigers won the division over
Toronto by two games as Toronto lost their last seven games and
Detroit went 6-2 the final week of the season. Of course, Lajoie was
looking at the short term over the long term, but in reality the
Tigers weren't very competitive over most of Smoltz's career and I
doubt he would have had as much of an impact in Detroit that he did in
Atlanta.
Bermuda999
2010-12-29 16:00:23 UTC
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Post by Michael O'Connor
Post by Bermuda999
Three years after he had traded a 20-year-old John Smoltz to Atlanta
for ... Doyle Alexander (almost 37 at the time).
The Alexander trade probably won the Tigers the 1987 AL East Division,
as Alexander was 9-0 with Detroit and the Tigers won the division over
Toronto by two games as Toronto lost their last seven games and
Detroit went 6-2 the final week of the season.  
And Alexander then proceeded to tank in the ALCS

Of course, Lajoie was
Post by Michael O'Connor
looking at the short term over the long term, but in reality the
Tigers weren't very competitive over most of Smoltz's career and I
doubt he would have had as much of an impact in Detroit that he did in
Atlanta.
Of course it's all 20/20 hindsight, but with that benefit, I'd take
Smoltz's career and whatever butterfly effects which may have ensued.
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