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Hall Is Latest to Bail Out on Dodgers

Vice president of communications leaves because of philosophical differences with new team owners.

March 14, 2004|Jason Reid | Times Staff Writer

The exodus from Dodger Stadium continued Saturday with the surprising resignation of Derrick Hall, senior vice president of communications.

Hall, a confidant of former and current Dodger stars, left the organization after 11 years because of philosophical differences with new co-owners Frank and Jamie McCourt, becoming the third high-ranking executive in less than a month to bolt from Chavez Ravine since the McCourts officially took control of the franchise.

Bob Graziano, team president, and Kris Rone, executive vice president of business operations, also resigned because of philosophical differences with the Boston couple.

Hall, who had discussed his plans with the McCourts last week and made his resignation official Saturday before returning to Los Angeles, had been expected to remain in his position because many had advised the McCourts of his importance to the organization.

"This was an extremely difficult decision for me and my family," said Hall, who since 1999 has coordinated the club's communication efforts. "The Dodgers have meant so much to me and have been such an important part of my life, but I just feel that now is the time for me to go explore and entertain other possibilities. I will always love this organization."

Attempts to contact the McCourts at Dodgertown were unsuccessful. Word of Hall's resignation spread Saturday night at the spring-training complex.

"I'm disappointed that the organization lost him, but he wasn't fired," said Hall of Fame pitcher and Vero Beach, Fla., resident Sandy Koufax, among Hall's closest friends.

"This is a decision Derrick made. If he believes this is a decision that will make him happier, I'm happy for him."

Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrin hoped Hall would reconsider.

"Oh, my goodness, this is a very heavy blow," Jarrin said. "... I am shocked, just really shocked."

The news disturbed All-Star right fielder Shawn Green.

"He's one of the unsung heroes in the organization," Green said. "He's the best in the business at what he does. I don't know all the dynamics of the situation, but I have a lot of respect for Derrick. I know he would only do this if he felt he had to."

Hall, who had left briefly in 1999 to become a sports radio talk-show host, declined to elaborate on the philosophical differences that drove him from the organization he joined in 1992 as a member of the Vero Beach Dodgers.

However, multiple team sources said Saturday that Hall was concerned about the new owners' handling of many situations and apparently feared his credibility would be called into question.

Hall played a major role in the Dodgers' community service projects, prompting one local government official to express concern about his departure.

"Oh, no, I can't believe that," said Don Knabe, chairman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. "Derrick has been Mr. Community, a stalwart at making sure the Dodgers were always out there.

"He's been outstanding working with the community and local government.... I'm stunned."

Hall last season persuaded Fernando Valenzuela to rejoin the organization as a broadcaster after being estranged from the Dodgers for more than a decade. Valenzuela took the news hard.

"The main reason I came back to the Dodgers was because of Derrick," said Valenzuela, the 1981 National League rookie of the year and Cy Young Award winner. "Derrick convinced me to work for the Dodgers again.

"I was really looking forward to working with him this year. Now, he's not going to be with us."

Said Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully: "He has a desire to spread his wings and fly in another direction, and all I can do as a dear friend is wish him Godspeed."

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