Nickname: Mr. Baseball
Election: February 25, 2002
Induction: June 22, 2002
Born (date, year, place): September 29, 1907 in New York, New York
Died (date, year, place): January 14, 1998 in New Canaan, Connecticut
Primary Position: Builder
Harry Simmons’ unrivalled knowledge of baseball history, rules and statistics landed him a job with the International League in 1946, the same historic season that Jackie Robinson played his first year of integrated baseball with the Montreal Royals. After handling much of the press coverage related to Robinson, Simmons wore many hats in the league’s executive office over the next 20 years, and was often consulted on issues related to player contracts, finances and staffing. Previously in New York, the International League’s head office was transferred to Montreal in 1953. Simmons would move his family to Cartierville, Quebec the following year and maintain his Canadian residence until 1995.
Schedule-making was also one of Simmons’ key duties while employed by the International League. The determined administrator would master the art of schedule-making before the age of computers. Considered a pioneer in the field, Simmons would also create schedules for Major League Baseball (MLB) for more than 20 years, and eventually leave the International League to work in an advisory capacity for the MLB commissioner. Montreal mayor, Gerry Snyder, also consulted Simmons when he was attempting to land a major league franchise for his city in the late ’60s.
Also a writer, historian and rules authority, Simmons authored the baseball entry in Encyclopedia Britannica for many years and penned the popular “So You Think You Know Baseball” column that ran in the Saturday Evening Post from 1949 to 1961. Those columns were later converted into a book that sold more than 500,000 copies. Known as Mr. Baseball to many, Simmons was honoured with the King of Baseball Award at the 1979 Major League Baseball winter meetings in Toronto. Simmons was also the recipient of the SABR Salute Award in 1990 and was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.