The general manager of the Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball from 1984 to 1990, he helped to build, then served as GM of, the world champion 1984 Tigers.
Born in Wyandotte, Michigan, Lajoie attended Western Michigan University, earning a bachelor of science degree in 1956. An All-American athlete at WMU, he was signed by the Baltimore Orioles organization following graduation. After a nine-year playing career as a minor league outfielder in farm systems of the Orioles, Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds and Minnesota Twins, Lajoie became a scout and minor league manager with Cincinnati.
He then joined the Tigers organization in 1974 as a member of the scouting department. By 1979 he was named the assistant general manager to Tigers GM Jim Campbell. During his time as GM, Lajoie is credited with several transactions that helped the Tigers to the 1984 World Series championship and a 1987 division title. Notable transactions include signing aging veteran Darrell Evans in 1984; Kirk Gibson leaving as a free agent; and trading John Smoltz for Doyle Alexander in 1987. While ridiculed by Detroit fans now, the Smoltz trade helped the Tigers make the playoffs in 1987, as Alexander posted 9 wins and 0 losses in 11 starts, with a 1.53 earned run average. Smoltz, at the time, was a lightly regarded prospect in the low minor leagues. After an internal power struggle in 1990 (the Tigers had hired Bo Schembechler as team president), he was replaced as Tigers GM by his assistant, Joe McDonald.
At the time of his death at age 76 near Sarasota, Florida, Lajoie was special assistant to the general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He also served as a special assistant or consultant to the Atlanta Braves (1995-1998), Milwaukee Brewers (2001-2002), Boston Red Sox (2003-2006) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2006-2009). Lajoie played a high-profile consulting role in the Boston front office during the brief interregnum between November 2005 and February 2006 caused by the temporary resignation of Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. He headed the Red Sox delegation to the 2005 winter baseball meetings and was instrumental in the multi-player trade with the Florida Marlins that netted pitcher Josh Beckett. However, upon Epstein's return, Lajoie resigned, and a few weeks later became a top advisor to Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti. He joined Pittsburgh in a similar role in June 2009, assisting GM Neal Huntington.
In 1988, Bill Lajoie was honored with a distinguished alumni award from the Western Michigan University Alumni Association.By WIKI
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- 1984 World Series, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers