Serving as a player, manager, executive and community ambassador, Jim Fanning has spent over 60 years in professional baseball. The Chicago Cubs signed him as a catcher in 1949 and he played 64 games over four seasons, before pursuing a managing career. After managerial stops in Tulsa, Dallas, Eau Claire and Greenville, fellow Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer, John McHale, hired him as a special assignment scout for the Milwaukee Braves in 1963. The following year Fanning was promoted to assistant general manager, a post he would hold until 1967.
By this time, Fanning’s scouting skills had impressed many, including those in Major League Baseball’s head office, and in 1968, he was hired to be the first scouting director of Major League Baseball’s Scouting Bureau. But Fanning’s tenure at that position would be a short one. In August 1968, he was named the first general manager of the Montreal Expos.
In his 25-year tenure with the Expos, Fanning helped build the franchise from scratch and served in several different capacities, including vice-president, scout and even two stints as the field manager (1981-82, 1984). When Fanning took over as the field boss in 1981, he had drafted or helped develop the skills of 21 players on the roster. The respected baseball man would guide the Expos to their first and only playoff berth in 1981, leading the team to within one win of advancing to the World Series. In his quarter century with the Expos, he established himself as one of baseball’s best talent evaluators, counting fellow Canadian Baseball Hall of Famers Larry Walker, Steve Rogers and Tim Wallach among the players he helped sign. He also played an important role in signing Andres Galarraga and Randy Johnson for the club. After leaving the Expos in 1993, he was hired as a special assignment scout with the Colorado Rockies. He was employed as an ambassador of amateur baseball with the Toronto Blue Jays. Jim passed away April 25, 2015.
Career Major League Statistics
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