Today in Tribe History: January 4, 2015

Longtime Major League Baseball executive Hank Peters dies in Boca Raton, Florida, at the age of 90 after complications from a stroke.

Born in 1924, Peters served in the Army during World War II. Upon his return, the St. Louis native got a job with the hometown Browns organization, working in their farm system. When the club moved to Baltimore, he found employment with the Kansas City Athletics, working as the director of their minor league farm system before becoming general manager in 1965.

He joined the Indians organization the following season as the director of player personnel, but resigned in 1971 when owner Vernon Stouffer slashed funding to the farm system while strapped for money. After time as the president of minor league baseball for several years, he found his way back to his former Browns club in their Baltimore home, serving as the Orioles’ GM and helping to guide the team to two World Series appearances.

He returned to Cleveland after being fired by the Orioles following the 1987 season and served as president and general manager of the club for four seasons. While the Indians were not successful during his tenure in the front office, his baseball ideals – including quality drafting, developing strong farm systems, and acquiring young talent from other organizations – were implemented effectively both during his time and by his successors in the front office. It was during his watch that the team drafted future organizational stars Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, and Charles Nagy, as well as traded star outfielder Joe Carter for three players, two of whom became key pieces of the team’s success in the 1990s (Sandy Alomar Jr. and Carlos Baerga).

Also on this date in Tribe history:

1890 – Future Indians manager Ossie Vitt is born in San Francisco, California. He spent three years at the helm in Cleveland and was manager of the club in 1940 when the Indians earned the less-than-desired “Cry-Babies” moniker after their attempts to oust Vitt from his role. He was fired after the season.

1910 – Gabe Paul is born. After becoming GM of the expansion Houston Colt 45’s team, he left the club before they even played a game when he took the same position with the Indians on April 27, 1961. He held the role until 1973 and was also a part owner, president, and treasurer for the franchise at periods during that span.

1944 – Charlie Manuel is born in Northfolk, West Virginia. He spent parts of three different decades as an Indians manager and coach at both the Major and minor league levels.

1965 – Future Indians reliever Kevin Wickander is born in Fort Dodge, Iowa. He will spend parts of four seasons in an Indians uniform (1989-1990, 1992-1993) after being selected by the club in the second round of the 1986 draft. He would be dealt to the Cincinnati Reds in 1993 for a player to be named later.

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