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12/28/10 10:24 PM EST

Longtime scout, executive Lajoie dies

Baseball 'lifer' played key role for '84 champion Tigers

Longtime baseball scout and executive Bill Lajoie, who played a key role in building the 1984 World Series champion Detroit Tigers, passed away in his sleep at his home in Osprey, Fla., on Tuesday afternoon at the age of 76.

Lajoie spent the past two seasons as a senior advisor to Pirates general manager Neal Huntington, but his career in baseball spanned more than 50 years.

"Mr. Lajoie impacted the lives and careers of a countless number of players, scouts and front office executives," Huntington said in a statement. "He was a terrific evaluator of talent, an outstanding baseball man, a tremendous mentor and a better friend.

"Those who have been fortunate enough to have known him will miss Bill dearly."

A Michigan native who grew up near Detroit, Lajoie is likely best known for his work with the Tigers. He spent 23 years in the Tigers organization, including seven as the club's GM. He took over that role in 1984, and in his first season, he helped construct a team that went 104-58 in the regular season before capturing the World Series title.

Said David Dombrowski, Tigers president, CEO and GM: "Bill played an integral role in building the Detroit Tigers into a world championship team in 1984 and a division title winner in 1987 as the club's general manager. Bill was a respected and highly regarded baseball executive who made significant contributions to the Tigers franchise and the game of baseball. The Tigers organization extends its sincere condolences to the Lajoie family."

An All-American at Western Michigan University, Lajoie spent nine years playing the outfield in the Minor Leagues after he graduated from college in 1956. He joined the Reds as a scout in 1965 before joining the Tigers in 1969 as both a scout and a Minor League manager. In 1974, he was promoted to scouting director, a role that he held until 1979, when he became the club's assistant GM.

Since leaving the Tigers in 1990, Lajoie worked in an advisory role in the front office with the Braves, Brewers, Red Sox and Dodgers before joining the Pirates.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.