January 26, 2017

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) Eight weeks after receiving the biggest honor of his professional life, John Schuerholz spent a day soaking it all in.

Schuerholz, who has worked in baseball front offices for more than five decades, toured the baseball Hall of Fame on Thursday in preparation for his induction this summer.

''I'm sitting in a director's chair, I'm looking down this grand hallway in Cooperstown in the Hall of Fame having just been shown where my plaque will be installed ... and how do I feel? I feel spectacular,'' said the 76-year-old Schuerholz, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in December. ''I feel awed, I feel as thankful and appreciative of all the people who have helped me in my career and in my life to get to this point where a group decided that this guy qualifies for the Hall of Fame, this guy ought to be in the Hall of Fame.''

Schuerholz will be inducted along with Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez and Bud Selig on July 30. This walkthrough was the customary visit given to all inductees to help prepare for the big day.

Schuerholz began his career with the Baltimore Orioles in 1966, then moved to the expansion Kansas City Royals in 1969. After being promoted from farm director to general manager in 1981 at age 41, he put together the 1985 team that won the team's first World Series. At the time, he was the youngest general manager in big league history.

''I've learned by watching good people, smart people, how they work, how they prepare, how they communicate, how they lead, how they deal with people,'' Schuerholz said. ''And if you're in a leadership position, it's about people believing in you, knowing that you trust them and you empower them and you honor them, and they'll work harder and give you better information. Therefore, you succeed more. And that's what happened to me.''

In 1990, Schuerholz moved to the Atlanta Braves as general manager and one year later the team won the first of 14 consecutive division titles and a World Series crown in 1995. In his 26 years as GM of the Royals and Braves, from 1982-2007, his teams won 2,348 games, an average of more than 90 wins per season.

Now vice chairman of the Braves, Schuerholz also became the first general manager to build World Series championship teams in both major leagues.

On his museum tour, Schuerholz made a point of stopping in front of a Royals cap used by Bo Jackson.

''We wanted good athletes who could play baseball. He was one of them,'' Schuerholz said. ''He was the strongest player I ever saw in major league baseball. He was the fastest player I ever saw in major league baseball. If he had stayed in baseball, he'd have a plaque here, too.''

And inside the Hank Aaron exhibit, Chasing the Dream, Schuerholz said: ''Great player. Great man. My role model in life. Someone to look up to.''

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