Special thanks to Jeff Bonnett from the Havana National Bank for leading me to this great baseball executive.
Henry Roy Hamey was born on June 9, 1902 in Havana, Illinois. His mothers name was Lena Belle Perry Sorrells. Hamey grew up for most of his life in Springfield , Il. and died on December 14, 1983 at his retirement home in Arizona of an apparent heart attack. He, his mother and wife Katherine Sullan whom he married in 1929 and died in 1980 all are buried in a plot at Dodge Grove Cemetery in Mattoon, Illinois. Hamey, as most people called him, had a great obsession with the game of baseball. He was never a good player but his enthusiasm for the game never waned throughout his illustrious career.
He worked for Standard Oil of Indiana for a period of time and also was treasurer for several vaudeville theaters. However in 1925, he became general manager of the Springfield Triple- I League. It was here he got his first big break in baseball as he got the attention and respect of George M. Weiss, President of the New York Yankees.
He began in the Yankee organizations as business manger in 1934 at Binghamton, a farm club. He left there in 1939 and went to a farm club of Kansas City and stayed until 1946 when he was named president of the American Association. The very next year he was named general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He was lured by the Pirates’ new ownership group led by Frank E. McKinney. He went to work to improve the team and named Billy Meyer from the Yankees to become the manager of the Pirates. Hamey knew the best thing to do was surround the team around slugging star Ralph Kiner with better players. He brought in future Hall of Fame player Hank Greenberg along with Tiny Bonham and Bob Chesnes. These moves catapulted Kiner from 1942-1952, to lead or co-lead the National League in home runs. With only a first division finish in 1948 and a weak farm system, Hamey was replaced by Branch Rickey by the Pirates.
George Weiss re-hired Hamey in 1951 as assistant general. That lasted until 1954, when Hamey left the Yankees again and became GM of the Philadelphia Phillies until 1958 and he again was hired by Weiss. Now a member of the New York Yankees again for the third time.
On November 30,1960, he replaced Weiss and now was the GM for the Yankees. He faced many new challenges in his position which included the first ever expansion draft in 1960. In that he took Roland Sheldon, a well known rookie. He made some deals that caused the NY Yankees to win 109 games in 1961 and easily beat the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. Not satisfied, Hamey picked up shortstop Tom Tresh, who went on to become Rookie of the Year. He also acquired Jim Bouton for the mound and the 1962 team went on to defeat the San Francisco Giants in the World Series.
Never resting on his laurels, the Yankees general manager again made some moves. He traded the veteran first baseman Bill “Moose” Skowron to the Angels for a pitcher. Now there was a battle for the first base job. The leader was minor leaguer Joe Pepitone. Not only did he get the job but he provided the Yankees with 27 home runs, batted in 89 runs and
was almost flawless on defense at first base. He also played 16 games in the outfield. The outcome this year wasn’t quite as good as the Dodgers swept the Yanks in the World Series. The team was sold and Hamey retired due to health concerns and the Yankees named Ralph Houk as general manager and Yogi Berra as player/manger of the team.
During Hamey’s time with the Yankees, they averaged 103 regular season wins and several World Series championships. He stayed out of baseball until 1969-70 when Joe Cronin, American League president appointed him to look after the Seattle Pilots, who were looking for a new ownership group. Bud Selig bought the team and moved it to Milwaukee.
- Check out more Baseball History at Baseball Spotlight
About the author– Tom Knuppel has been writing about baseball and sports for a few decades. As an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan he began with the blog CardinalsGM. Tom is a member of the United Cardinals Bloggers and the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. He also maintains the History of Cardinals website. More recently he has been busy at KnupSolutions and the primary writer of many sports at KnupSports and adds content at Sports 2.0. Tom is a retired High School English and Speech teacher and has completed over one hundred sportsbook reviews. He also can be followed on Twitter at tknup. Feel free to contact Tom at [email protected]