Former Boston Red Sox general manager Lou Gorman, the architect of the team that came within one strike of winning the 1986 World Series, died early Friday morning after an illness of almost a year. He was 82.
"All he wanted to do was make it to Opening Day, and he made it," said his nephew, Tom Dougherty, who answered the phone at Gorman's Weston home. "He lived a great life. And he was truly one of the nicest men you ever wanted to meet."
Gorman died peacefully at 1:50 a.m. surrounded by his family at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dougherty said.
"Lou Gorman was a giant in our industry," current general manager Theo Epstein said shortly before the Red Sox were scheduled to open their season against the Texas Rangers. "During half a century in the game, Lou impacted and helped so many people in countless ways. We'll dearly miss this good, humble man who leaves an unmistakable legacy on the Red Sox and major league baseball."
James "Lou" Gorman was the Red Sox general manager from 1984-93, building the '86 AL championship team, led by Roger Clemens, that was one strike away from winning the World Series before the New York Mets came back to win Games 6 and 7. It wasn't until 2004 that the Red Sox finally won it all and ended what had become an 86-year title drought.
"Lou Gorman was a legendary figure in the game of baseball," Red Sox owner John W. Henry said. "Over the course of a career that spanned five decades, Lou helped to build winning teams across the sport, including the 1986 American League champion Red Sox."
Henry also noted that Gorman served eight years in the U.S. Navy.
"Above all else, Lou Gorman was a profoundly decent man who always had a kind word and an optimist's perspective," Henry said. "His warm spirit and fundamental goodness will be greatly missed."
A native of Rhode Island, Gorman helped launch the expansion Seattle Mariners in 1976 and also worked for the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals and New York Mets. He had been working as an adviser to the Red Sox, helping to coordinate the Red Sox Hall of Fame, of which he is a member.
Until he became ill, he was usually seen around the ballpark before games, always smiling, sharing baseball stories with reporters or anyone else in the vicinity.
"Lou Gorman was first and foremost a gentleman: kind, warm, decent, and positive. He treated everyone with dignity and saw each person he encountered as a potential friend," Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said. "I will deeply miss sitting and watching Red Sox home games with Lou, learning from his wisdom and character. They just don't make them like Lou Gorman. That is not a cliche; it is a historical fact."
This program aired on April 1, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.