PAWTUCKET -– Pawtucket Red Sox President Mike Tamburro remembers former Boston Red Sox general manager Lou Gorman, who died Friday at the age of 82, as a personable man who grew up in Rhode Island and never lost contact with old friends.
“It was like having your best friend as general manager of the Red Sox when Lou held that job,” Tamburro said on Friday afternoon while discussing the life of the long-time baseball development official who helped build successful teams in Baltimore, Kansas City and New York.
Gorman became Boston’s GM in 1984 and almost brought home a World Series title two years later.
“You have to remember,” Tamburro said. “The Red Sox were one pitch short of winning the World Series in 1986. That was Lou’s dream: to bring a World Series title to Boston. And he almost did it. The thing about Lou was he developed great farm systems wherever he was working. “
Indeed, Gorman developed many of the Mets players who helped beat the Red Sox in that epic 1986 World Series showdown.
“Lou was an outstanding guy, a consummate professional who bled Red Sox red,” Tamburro said. “He was a great player development guy. When he was GM in Boston, he would call us two or three times a day. Lou was on top of everything when it came to developing prospects.
“I got to know Lou well,” Tamburro said. “He and Ben (Mondor) were very good friends. What hit me when I heard Lou had died was that Ben died on the closing day of the 2010 season and Lou died on opening day of 2011. There’s no doubt they are up in heaven right now, getting ready to watch the Red Sox open their season. And I bet they have the best seats in the house!”
Gorman, who grew up in Providence and was a star athlete at La Salle Academy, made friends wherever he went in his life. Pawtucket’s Mike Pappas met Gorman right after World War II when both young men were looking to build their careers.
“Lou was a great friend,” said Pappas, who performed public address announcer chores in the early years of Ben Mondor’s PawSox ownership. “He was in the Navy, stationed in Newport, after the war, serving as athletic director for the naval base down there. Lou was a great athlete in his day. He played with me on the Pawtucket Hobos basketball team. One day he asked me if I wanted to do some officiating of games at the Naval base. That’s how we became good friends.
“When Lou became general manager, we would talk every so often,” Pappas added. “When I had bypass surgery, I asked him for tickets so I could take my surgeon, who was a big Yankees fan, to a Yankees-Red Sox game. Lou asked me what kind of surgeon my doctor was and I told him he was one of the best around, a guy named Aaron Singh. Lou was very impressed and said ‘By all means, bring him up to a game.’ That’s how Lou was. He was a friend to everyone he had met along the way. He always made sure Hank Soar and Ned Barlow and myself were taken care of down in spring training. If we went to a game at Fenway, Lou would often let us sit in his private box.
“Lou was a very generous man,” Pappas said. “I am very sorry to hear he has passed. I was going to call him today to see how we was doing. We all knew Lou had been sick but this comes as a big shock to everyone who knew him. He was a great man.”
Tamburro will always remember Gorman and Mondor standing outside the front gate at McCoy Stadium, greeting fans.
“Lou was such a Rhode Island guy,” Tamburro said. “He loved to talk about Rhode Island, about playing sports here, and growing up in Providence. When Lou came to McCoy, he knew everybody in the building, and everyone seemed to know him. Lou would make sure he went out to the front gate with Ben to greet the fans. He was an easy, approachable man.”