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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.


Early life and career

Born in Rochester, New York, Paul got his start in the game at age 10 as a batboy for the Rochester Tribe of the AAA International League and later attended Monroe High School.[1] Eventually, he worked for Warren Giles, who became business manager of the renamed Rochester Red Wings when the St. Louis Cardinals purchased the team in 1928. When Giles took over the front office of the Cincinnati Reds in 1937, Paul became the Reds’ traveling secretary.

After returning from military service during World War II, Paul was promoted to vice president.

Cincinnati Reds general manager

In 1951, when Giles was elected president of the National League, Paul took his old mentor's job as Cincinnati general manager. The Reds were then a losing outfit with a weak farm system. Paul rebuilt the minor league department and began to scout and sign Latin-American and African-American players, as he built a powerhouse team on the major league level.

The Reds of the mid-1950s (then called the Cincinnati Redlegs due to the anti-communism of the time) captured the country's imagination as a team of sluggers. With a lineup that included Ted Kluszewski, Frank Robinson, Gus Bell, Wally Post and Ed Bailey, the 1956 Reds hit 221 home runs and won 91 games to finish third, only two games behind the pennant-winning Brooklyn Dodgers. Paul was named Executive of the Year. The following year, Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick had to intervene when Cincinnati fans "stuffed" the ballot box and elected a virtually all-Red starting lineup to the National League All-Star team.

The Reds failed to improve upon their 1956 mark during Paul’s tenure, however, and after the 1960 season, Paul left the team.

Houston Colt .45/Cleveland Indians executive

In 1961, Paul resurfaced as the first general manager of the expansion Houston Colt .45s, where he prepared for the club’s 1962 debut. But Paul’s stay in Houston lasted only a few months, long before the Colt .45s ever played an official game.

When the opportunity came to return to Ohio as front office boss of the Cleveland Indians during the 1961 season, he leapt at the chance. Paul eventually became a part-owner in the team, as well as president and general manager, but the Indians were stuck in the middle-to-lower rung of the American League standings and struggled badly at the gate. On multiple occasions, the club was rumored to be headed elsewhere. Paul brought to Cleveland pitching stars Sam McDowell and Luis Tiant and, in 1965, reacquired slugger Rocky Colavito — a Cleveland folk hero who had been traded away by the team five years before — 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.

New York Yankees club president/general manager

Finally, in 1973, Paul sold his interest in the Indians and became part of Steinbrenner’s Cleveland-based syndicate that purchased the Yankees from CBS. 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[2], 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."[3] The Yankees were able to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1977 World Series, Paul's only World Series victory.

The 1977 season, however, was Paul's last in the Bronx.

Return to the Cleveland Indians

After Al Rosen was brought into the Bronx as a senior executive in fall 1977—crowding Paul's authority much as Paul's presence did Mike Burke—Paul returned to Cleveland as president of the Indians in 1978. But he could never rouse the Tribe from their doldrums.

Paul retired in 1984 after almost 60 years in the game. He died at the age of 88 in Tampa, Florida.

Paul was played by actor Kevin Conway in the 2007 ESPN television mini-series The Bronx Is Burning.


  1. ^ Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. "Bob Matthews Sports Article (November 27, 2007)". Retrieved 2007-11-27.  
  2. ^ John Helyar, "The Lords of the Realm"
  3. ^ Terry Pluto, "The Curse of Rocky Colavito: A Loving Look at a 30-year slump"

External links

Preceded by
Warren Giles
Cincinnati Reds General Manager
Succeeded by
Bill DeWitt
Preceded by
first general manager
Houston Colt .45s General Manager
Succeeded by
Paul Richards
Preceded by
Frank Lane
Cleveland Indians General Manager
Succeeded by
Alvin Dark
Preceded by
Myron Wilson
Cleveland Indians President
Succeeded by
Nick Mileti
Preceded by
Alvin Dark
Cleveland Indians General Manager
Succeeded by
Phil Seghi
Preceded by
Mike Burke
New York Yankees President
Succeeded by
Al Rosen
Preceded by
Lee MacPhail
New York Yankees General Manager
Succeeded by
Cedric Tallis
Preceded by
Ted Bonda
Cleveland Indians President
Succeeded by
Peter Bavasi

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