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Detroit Tigers CEO leads list for Rays job


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 28, 2001

John McHale Jr., 52, president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Tigers since Jan. 11, 1995, was born to the business of baseball.

Now, he is the Rays top choice to fill the team's newly created chief operating officer position.

McHale's father played -- albeit briefly -- for the Tigers and was an executive for 30 years with the Tigers, Major League Baseball, the Milwaukee Braves and Montreal Expos.

Like his parents, John J. McHale and the former Patricia Cameron, John Jr. was born in Detroit, barely a year after his father's major-league career as a Tigers first baseman ended (64 games in five seasons, a .193 batting average).

McHale Jr. attended Notre Dame, played football, graduated in 1971 and earned law degrees from Boston College Law School in 1975 and the Georgetown University Law Center in 1985.

He practiced law in Denver from 1981 to 1991 before entering baseball's executive offices.

In October 1991 McHale was named executive vice president of baseball operations for the Colorado Rockies, which didn't begin play until 1993. Just before that inaugural season, McHale became executive vice president of operations, the position he held before joining the Tigers.

"Good baseball sense and sound management can still make a difference," he told the Detroit News in February, when asked whether teams outside of baseball's biggest markets could remain competitive. "We saw some examples of that last year. But we seem to be tending toward a game where local revenue outweighs good baseball sense and good management. That's not the healthiest direction for the game to go."

McHale was instrumental in the conception, design, financing and building of Comerica Park, the Tigers' stadium that opened last season. He played a similar role in the evolution of Coors Field, the Rockies' stadium.

McHale, his wife, Sally, and their children Duncan, William and Frances, live in Ann Arbor, Mich.

"I think the hardest part of the job is being away from my family so much in the spring and summer and early fall," McHale told the Michigan Daily, the university's newspaper, in 1997. "We will have long stretches of night games when I won't see the kids at all. They are young and they'll go to bed before I get home and I'll leave for work the next morning before they get up.

"Beyond that, I feel my job is the dream for anyone who graduates from law school. I get a little baseball, a little politics, urban planning, facility design."

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