Hank Peters and the Dan Duquette parallel
In putting together a piece on Dan Duquette’s nine-year absence from the majors before agreeing to the Orioles’ executive vice president job, I found an interesting parallel.
In the 1975 offseason, the Orioles hired another guy who hadn’t been a GM for a decade, Hank Peters, who went on to be one of the most successful executives in club history.
This isn’t a perfect comparison, of course.
Duquette basically was out of affiliated baseball during most of the past decade. Peters, the Kansas City Athletics' GM in 1965, left there and spent five years with the Cleveland Indians as VP of player personnel, then four more years as the president of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, essentially directing the minor leagues, before joining the Orioles.
Peters inherited an Orioles team with an established manager, some fading stars and a solid core. He was credited with bringing the club back to prominence, and arguably his best move occurred less than a year into his tenure in Baltimore. In July 1976, he orchestrated a 10-player deal with the New York Yankees that brought Tippy Martinez, Rick Dempsey and Scott McGregor to the Orioles. Those three helped the club make World Series appearances in 1979 and 1983.
Peters left the Orioles in 1987 after 14 years as GM, the longest such stint in club history.
I am not suggesting that Duquette is another Peters. Not saying that at all. It just struck me that this wasn’t the first time the Orioles have hired a top executive who had been a former GM but wasn’t with any organization – including its own – the previous year (or years).
Peters is now 87, retired and still living in Baltimore County. I caught up with him yesterday, and here is an excerpt of our talk.
Peters on whether there was any media or fan criticism when he was hired: “I don’t recall hearing that at all. Actually, I turned down the job two years before because I felt I had an obligation to stay where I was. I was elected to the position. … But I recognized how much I missed the competitive aspects of baseball and so I made the change.”
On the learning curve facing Duquette: “Naturally, when you’ve been away from something for a period of time, there are always subtle changes and sometimes dramatic changes in philosophy and even the rules of baseball. So there are some things that you need to get up to tune with.”
On the challenges and what Duquette needs to do to succeed: “I think it is going to be different initially because he has been away totally from professional baseball for nine years and that’s a pretty big gap in time. But I think it all depends on how he surrounds himself with experienced people as he builds things himself. Hopefully, those people can contribute considerably with both the needs of the Orioles as well as Dan’s personal needs to do the job.”
On the pull to return to the majors he once felt and Duquette may feel: “I think it is probably a combination of factors if you are a baseball lifer, which I was and I assume Dan wants to be. You want to resume that life, even though it is a very demanding one. … All of a sudden, there aren’t many challenges in what you are doing, and that, to me, was a big thing. Life is a series of challenges, and I missed the fact that I didn’t feel like I was being challenged before I came back here. And that might be the same for Dan, too, Maybe his life became too routine.”