Now that the announcement has been made that the Phillies have finally interviewed front-runner Gerry Hunsicker chances are improving that he will be the new GM. Essentially the race is between him and Pat Gillick. However it is obvious that Hunsicker is the fan’s favorite. I thought then we should take this opportunity to learn a bit more about the leading candidate. Gillick will be profiled later this week.
As many of you know, the 55 year old Hunsicker is a Philadelphia area native. He grew up in Collegeville, Montgomery County, which interestingly enough is home to only one major college, Ursinus (and even that’s a stretch). He attended Saint Joseph’s University where he was an All-Conference baseball player. In 2000, he returned to his alma mater to speak on labor relations and the prospect of long-term fiscal sanity of baseball (article written by a young shallowcenter blogger).
Gerry Hunsicker’s professional career began, for all intents and purposes, in 1988 with the New York Mets. There he worked for seven seasons, first as director of minor-league operations and then as assistant GM.
On Nov. 10, 1995, he was plucked to become GM of the Houston Astros. The ‘stros went 701-595 with .541 winning percentage during his 9 seasons with the team. Comparatively that puts Houston sixth in victories and winning percentage among all major-league clubs during that span. His teams reached the playoffs 5 out of 9 years while winning 4 division titles.
Needless to say he had an extremely successful tenure in Houston. USA Today called him “the Frank Lloyd Wright of general managers.” Here are some brief points pulled of an excellent article from Houston’s Clear Thinkers written just after Hunsicker resigned:
Homegrown Talent: Lance Berkman, Richard Hidalgo, Bobby Abreu, Roy Oswalt, Brad Lidge, and Wade Miller
Key Acquisitons: Randy Johnson, Jeff Kent, Octavio Dotel, Moises Alou, Carl Everett, Jose Lima, Carlos Beltran and Roger Clemens
- signing Jeff Bagwell to a long term deal in the twilight of his career
- failing to secure a quality catcher and overpaying Brad Ausmus
- not protecting Bobby Abreu in the expansion draft (though a good move for the Phillies)
Hunsicker resigned from the Astros GM post in 2004. Supposedly Astros owner Drayton McLane was seeking potential buyers for the club and thus did not want to make any long term contractual commitments. So with the writing on the wall, Hunsicker decided to go out on top and take a year off.
His explanation: “I talked about it on and off with my wife (Irene) during the year. We talked about an exit strategy, if you will. We talked about not wanting to do this forever. Especially at this point in our lives, we were looking for a place to jump off.” Hunsicker sought to spend more time visiting his 23 year old daughter who lives in Denver and relaxing at his house in Florida. He still resides in suburban Houston.
It doesn’t take much analysis to figure out that Hunsicker is the obvious choice for GM. Although the Phillies are not known for making any sudden moves, they do take the time to go through the motions. Fortunately it seems those motions are near conclusion, so it should only be a matter of days before an announcement is made.