Gabriel Howard Paul (January 4, 1910 – April 26, 1998) was an American executive in Major League Baseball who served as general manager of three teams and, perhaps most famously, as president of the New York Yankees under George Steinbrenner during the 1970s.
* Born January 4, 1910 in Rochester, NY USA
* Died April 26, 1998 in Rochester, NY USA
Gabe Paul started in baseball while in his teens. The Rochester Red Wings were run by Warren Giles, and Paul impressed Giles enough to be hired as a general handy man. He started writing publicity releases for the team, then he learned front office detail and concessions. When Giles left to become the GM of the Cincinnati Reds, Paul followed him to be the Reds' publicity chief, replacing Gene Karst (who was the first "publicity man" in the major leagues, with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1931). Paul became Giles' first assistant and remained with Cincinnati when Giles left to become National League president in 1951.
Gabe was vice president and General Manager until 1960, when he left to become GM of the expansion Houston Colt 45's. Paul didn't stay long enough to see Houston field a team, as he moved to the Cleveland Indians in 1961, serving as GM until 1973. In 1963, he was part of a group that bought the Indians, and added the titles of president and treasurer. In 1966 he sold his stock to Vernon Stouffer. He was replaced as GM in Cleveland by his longtime "second banana" Phil Seghi.
On the field, Paul brought to Cleveland pitching stars Sam McDowell and Luis Tiant and, in 1965, reacquired Colavito in a bid to win more games, and more fans. But, after an encouraging 1968 season, the Indians plummeted in the standings. For a while, Paul gave up his general manager title to field manager Alvin Dark in an effort to change the club's fortunes.
Paul left the Indians to become GM of the New York Yankees in 1973. Installed as club president that year after the April departure of minority owner Michael Burke and the year-end departure of GM/interim president Lee MacPhail, Paul helped Steinbrenner rebuild the once-proud Yankees into a champion. The team won its first American League pennant in 12 years in 1976 and its first world championship since 1962 the following year.
The key to re-building the Yankees was a series of trades that Paul pulled off. He acquired in succession: Graig Nettles, Chris Chambliss, Dick Tidrow and Oscar Gamble from his former team, the Indians; Lou Piniella from the Royals; Mickey Rivers and Ed Figueroa from the Angels; Willie Randolph, Ken Brett and Dock Ellis from the Pirates; and Bucky Dent from the White Sox. He also signed Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson as free agents.
Paul, whose nickname was the "Smiling Cobra" for his expertise in trades, had his enemies, among them influential Cleveland radio host Pete Franklin, who said of Paul, "Gabe was a master at working the room, of getting to know everybody and knowing where all the bodies are. The thing about Gabe was that while he did work for an owner, he always found a way to get a piece of the team himself. Then it became damn near impossible to fire him because he was part-owner. Gabe's greatest gift was the ability to take care of Gabe." The Yankees were able to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1977 World Series, Paul's only World Series victory.
He was with New York until returning to Cleveland as president and minority owner in 1978.
He was responsible for changing the minor league draft system from drawing numbers out of a hat to drafting in reverse order of the finish in the standings. He led the fight to split each major league into two divisions, and pushed through the free agent drafting of players. He supported the designated hitter rule, and put through the rule change that requires fielders to bring their gloves in off the field after each half-inning.
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