Harry Dalton, a former general manager of the then-California Angels baseball team who enjoyed greater success with the Baltimore Orioles and Milwaukee Brewers, died Sunday of complications of Parkinson's disease in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 77.
During a 41-year career in baseball, Dalton ran the Orioles during their heyday in the late 1960s and early '70s and was in charge in 1982 when the Brewers made their only World Series appearance.
Five teams built by Dalton reached the World Series. Two won it. He was named baseball's executive of the year by the Sporting News in 1970 and 1982.
"Harry was truly one of the great general managers of our time," baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. He hired Dalton to be the Brewers' general manager in 1977 when Selig was the team's president.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday October 26, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 44 words Type of Material: Correction
Dalton obituary -- The obituary of baseball executive Harry Dalton in Tuesday's California section said Earl Weaver was the manager of the Baltimore Orioles in 1966 when they swept the Dodgers in the World Series. Hank Bauer was manager of the Orioles that year.
Dalton was paid $47 a week when he joined the Orioles as a front-office staffer in 1953, shortly after the former St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore. He took over as general manager in 1966 and established himself as a shrewd executive, acquiring future Hall of Fame slugger Frank Robinson in a lopsided trade with the Cincinnati Reds for pitcher Milt Pappas.
Robinson, now manager of the Washington Nationals, won the Triple Crown in 1966, leading the American League in batting average, home runs and runs batted in, and won league and World Series Most Valuable Player awards. The Orioles, under Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver, swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.
In Dalton's six seasons as general manager, the Orioles won the league pennant four times. They won the World Series again in 1970.
"There's baseball, the game, and baseball, the team business," Dalton once said. "The best part is the nine-inning game. The second-best part is putting the teams together to play that game."
Dalton left Baltimore for the Angels in October 1971. Once again, he traded for Robinson, getting him from the Dodgers as part of a blockbuster trade. But Robinson was unable to lift the rest of the team as he had done in Baltimore. In six seasons with the Angels, Dalton's teams never finished higher than fourth in the American League West, and he became known as "Hangman Harry" because of his five managerial changes.
Dalton was hired by the Brewers in 1977 and had an immediate effect. The Brewers, who had never had a winning season, had nine in 15 seasons under Dalton's direction.
Dalton laid the groundwork for the Brewers' pennantwinning 1982 season with a major deal in 1980, when he traded for catcher Ted Simmons, starting pitcher Pete Vuckovich and relief pitcher Rollie Fingers. In 1981, Fingers won the American League's Cy Young and MVP awards, helping the Brewers reach the playoffs for the first time. In 1982, Vuckovich won the Cy Young Award, helping the Brewers reach the World Series, where they lost to the Cardinals.
Dalton, who retired in 1994, was born in West Springfield, Mass. A 1950 graduate of Amherst College, where he majored in English, he worked as a sportswriter for the Springfield Daily News.
During a three-year tour of duty in the Korean War with the Air Force, he earned a Bronze Star for his work as a combat press officer in Japan and Korea.
Upon his return, he landed his first job with the Orioles.
"That first baseball job was my first love, my mistress, my fulfillment, my everything," he said in a 1981 interview.
Dalton is survived by his wife, Patricia; three daughters; and two grandchildren.