LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Pat Gillick was sure he wanted to wear the general manager's hat one more time.
Nearly two years removed from a stint with the Seattle Mariners and having been rejected by the Los Angeles Dodgers a year earlier, Gillick interviewed with the Dodgers and Phillies in October 2005.
The Dodgers clearly were the more glamorous team, and they also played in the city where Gillick went to college at the University of Southern California. But the Phillies, with young players like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard, intrigued Gillick, and he decided to go with the team that could not get over the playoff hump.
The Phillies, of course, climbed to the top of the baseball mountain by winning the World Series in 2008, Gillick's third and final season as the team's general manager.
"Probably the best [decision] I ever made was coming to the Phillies and not going to the Dodgers," Gillick said. "After I didn't get the job in L.A., I kind of felt like I wanted to come back and show the Dodgers they made a mistake."
His mission has been accomplished over and over.
The Dodgers first realized they made a mistake when Gillick's Phillies beat L.A. in the 2008 National League Championship Series, and they were reminded again Monday morning when a 16-man expansion-era veterans committee elected the former Phillies GM for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Gillick, 73 and still working as a senior adviser to Phillies president David Montgomery, received 13 votes and was the only person among the 12 nominees elected. He became the first general manager elected to the Hall of Fame since Lee MacPhail in 1998.
Marvin Miller, the former chief of the Major League Baseball Players Association and the man credited with turning baseball into an ultra-lucrative profession, fell one vote shy of the 12 needed for election. He clearly was not happy about it.
"The Baseball Hall of Fame's vote [or non-vote] . . . hardly qualifies as a news story," the 93-year-old Miller said in a statement released by the MLBPA. "It is repetitively negative, easy to forecast and therefore boring.
"Many years ago, those who control the Hall decided to rewrite history instead of recording it. The aim was to eradicate the history of the tremendous impact of the players' union on the progress and development of the game as a competitive sport, as entertainment and as an industry. The union was the moving force in bringing Major League Baseball from the 19th century to the 21st century."
The Phillies were gathered for a morning meeting in general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.'s hotel room when Gillick received the good news via a call on the phone of Phillies scout Charley Kerfeld that he had been elected. They celebrated with champagne, and later, after the public announcement, Gillick broke down and cried.
"I'm thankful," Gillick said. "I'm just really thankful for the people I've had a chance to work with. As I look back, I had a tremendous amount of people with whom I worked and supported me. You can't do this job alone, so consequently, a lot of people through the years have given me advice. Some advice I've taken and some I haven't taken, but all in all, it couldn't have been done without them."
Montgomery is equally thankful that Gillick accepted the job as Phillies GM a little more than five years ago. Upon his arrival in Philadelphia, Gillick already had borderline Hall of Fame credentials, having won two World Series and five division titles as GM in Toronto while also twice leading Baltimore and Seattle into the postseason.
"Our involvement with Pat has been special these last five years," Montgomery said. "And I say that for everybody in the organization. From the first time Pat joined us, the one thing I remember him saying to me was that nothing would thrill him more than to be a mentor to the people who were already with the Phillies.
"When he joined us with his background and all his contacts in the game . . . I thought one of the first things he'd want to do is bring a host of people with him. And he said, 'No, I've heard good things about the people working with the Phillies.' Obviously, we had a postseason challenge that we hadn't met until Pat joined us. But the reality is that he said, 'I'm anxious to work with the people who are already here and see if my experience can't elevate everybody.' And he clearly did that for us."
Gillick's first two big moves were trades that sent core players elsewhere. He immediately decided to ship Jim Thome to the Chicago White Sox to make room for Howard at first base and got centerfielder Aaron Rowand in return.
In the middle of the 2006 season, he dealt Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle to the New York Yankees. The deal brought nothing in return in terms of players from New York, but it signaled a change in leadership.
"Bobby to me was a great player, and he kind of set the tone in '06 . . . and I thought maybe we needed a little more oomph and intensity," Gillick said. "You don't know if Chase and Jimmy are going to be able to step up and do that, but they both stepped in and did a great job and got us going. I wanted to change the tone, and when Bobby left that gave an opening for somebody else to step forward and say . . . 'This is the way we're going to do things.' "
The new way has led to four straight division titles and the World Series championship that earned Gillick a spot in the Hall of Fame.