After playing football for the storied Notre Dame Fighting Irish, John McHale toiled for parts of five seasons with the Detroit Tigers, suiting up for a career-high 39 games with the club in 1947. He would become the Tigers’ assistant farm director the following year, and eventually rise through the ranks to become club’s general manager in 1957. He would hold that post until the Milwaukee Braves tabbed him as their new president and GM in 1959. He would later oversee the Braves’ move to Atlanta in 1966.
Following a two-year stint as baseball’s deputy commissioner, McHale was hired by Charles Bronfman to help develop a big league team in Montreal. McHale was the club’s first president and the team’s general manager from 1978 to 1984. During his reign, the Expos evolved into perennial contenders, drafting Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Tim Raines and Steve Rogers, all cornerstones of the 1981 Expos squad that came within one win of advancing to the World Series. For his efforts, he was named Canada’s Baseball Man of the Year in 1979 and The Sporting News Major League Executive of the Year in 1981. In all, McHale would enjoy 23 seasons with the Expos as president, general manager and vice-chairman.
After leaving the Expos in 1990, McHale served as the president of the Association of Professional Baseball Players of America (APBPA) and as a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Veterans Committee.