William Richard Lajoie
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 0", Weight 180 lb.
- School Western Michigan University
Outfielder Bill Lajoie played in the minor leagues from 1955 to 1964. He was included in a couple of major league trades during that stint, but never made the big leagues himself. A leg injury which cost him his speed was part of the reason he never took the final step. He then found himself teaching at Detroit Northern High School before being hired as a part-time scout, starting a successful front office career.
Lajoie was a scout for the Cincinnati Reds (1965-1967) and Detroit Tigers (1969-1973) and minor league manager. He was Scouting Director of the Detroit Tigers from 1974 to 1978 and assistant GM from 1979 to 1983. He was General Manager of the Tigers from 1984 to 1990. He played a major role in the construction of the Tigers' 1984 World Series-winning team.
After supervising the drafts that landed the Tigers the core of their future championship team - especially the 1976 amateur draft in which they landed OF Steve Kemp in January, and Dan Petry, Alan Trammell, Jack Morris and Lance Parrish in June - his first move as General Manager was signing free agent 3B-1B Darrell Evans. He also made the trade with the Philadelphia Phillies that landed the Tigers Willie Hernandez and Dave Bergman just before the 1984 season. Hernandez went on to win the MVP and Cy Young Award that year. He made an other key trade in 1987, acquiring P Doyle Alexander from the Atlanta Braves in a deal that cost him a then obscure minor league pitcher named John Smoltz. Alexander's tremendous pitching down the stretch was key to the Tigers winning the AL East title that year, but he would later be criticized for giving up a future Hall of Famer in Smoltz. The other problem was that the group of starts drafted together all got old together, or left as free agents, and by 1989, the Tigers were a last-place team.
Tigers owner Tom Monaghan brought in college football legend Bo Schembechler to oversee the Tigers' operations, and Bill found himself kicked upstairs, with Joe McDonald taking over as GM in 1990. The complicated arrangement also had Jim Campbell, Bill's predecessor as GM, as part of the top brass, but Schembechler wanting to make baseball decisions. Lajoie left the organization after working for Bo for a time, while the Tigers fell deeper into disarray. At the end of 1992, Monaghan sold the team to Mike Ilitch and Schembechler and Campbell were let go. Ilitch wanted to bring Lajoie back as his GM, and he almost agreed, but his heart wasn't in it anymore, so he turned down the offer, encouraging Ilitch to give the job to his protégé Jerry Walker instead.
After that wanting to go back to scouting, he spent a decade working for the Atlanta Braves. After stints with the Milwaukee Brewers and Boston Red Sox, he worked in the Los Angeles Dodgers front office starting in 2006. In 2009, he was hired by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a "Senior Advisor to the General Manager". He passed away at his home in Florida at age 76 in 2010.
|Detroit Tigers General Manager
Year-by-Year Managerial Record
|1968||GCL Reds||Gulf Coast League||28-33||5th||Cincinnati Reds||none|
|1969||Bristol Tigers||Appalachian League||34-34||4th||Detroit Tigers||none|
- Richard L. Shook: "Bill Lajoie", in Mark Pattison and David Raglin, ed.: Detroit Tigers 1984: What A Start! What A Finish!, SABR Publications, Phoenix, AZ, 2012, pp. 180-182. ISBN 978-1933599441