The post previously ran on Dec. 22, but it seemed appropriate and timely to re-post with the death of Hank Peters on Sunday. Indians Team President Mark Shapiro released a statement on Sunday. “The Cleveland Indians organization lost a cherished member of the family (Sunday) as former President/General Manager Hank Peters, 90, passed away due to complications of a recent stroke in Boca Raton, FL. We are saddened by Hank’s passing and express our deepest sympathy to his daughter, Sharon, son, Steve and grandchildren.”
While it appears John Hart is disassembling the Atlanta Braves during the twilight of his career in baseball, he may have seen this playbook almost 25 years ago from a different perspective.
Hart is the new general manager of the Atlanta Braves, left to cut payroll and rid the organization of bad contracts before a new stadium open north of town in 2017. It’s no guarantee the baseball veteran will be around to see the fruits of his labor. He may understand his role better than most, since he was the recipient of veteran front office work in the infancy of his career. Hart now assumes the role Hank Peters once had while Hart learned the front office craft for the Indians.
In the four seasons Peters was general manager for the Indians (1988-1991), the Tribe never finished higher than fourth. In fact, the 1991 Indians lost 105 games, a record unmatched in team history.
But Peters laid the groundwork for the Indians teams that dominated the 1990s, combining good draft picks with shrewd trades to form a nucleus of talent that helped the Tribe to six American League Central titles – including two World Series appearances – in seven years.
Peters’ baseball career started in his hometown of St. Louis, where he worked for the Browns as a scout. He was left out in the cold when the Browns moved to Baltimore, and became the farm director for the Kansas City Athletics, where he watched players he drafted – like Roger Maris – move on as the Athletics were used as a de facto farm team for the Yankees. In 1960, Charles O. Finley, who had become a millionaire in insurance, bought the Athletics.