John McHale Sr., 86, the first president of the Montreal Expos when they debuted as an expansion team in 1969 and the general manager from 1978 to 1984, died Thursday in a hospice unit near his home in Palm City, Fla., Major League Baseball announced.
A first baseman who played 64 games for the Detroit Tigers from 1943 to 1948, McHale joined the Tigers' front office in 1948 as an assistant farm director and became general manager in 1957.
He moved to the Milwaukee Braves in 1959 as president and general manager, and oversaw the franchise's relocation to Atlanta in 1966. After spending two years at Major League Baseball's headquarters as deputy commissioner, he became a founding executive of the Expos. As general manager, he led the team to its only playoff appearance, in 1981.
After retiring in 1990, he remained a director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
John Joseph McHale was born in Detroit on Sept. 21, 1921. He played football at the University of Notre Dame and spent three years in the Navy during World War II before graduating with an economics degree in 1947.
McHale's son, John Jr., is an executive vice president in the commissioner's office.