NEW YORK — Mark Newman, a key front office executive for the New York Yankees during their run of five World Series titles from 1996 through 2009 and an SIU Hall of Famer, was found dead Saturday at his home in Tampa, Florida. He was 71.
The Yankees said it was not clear whether he died Friday or Saturday. The team was not sure of the cause.
A moment of silence was observed before Saturday's game against the Baltimore Orioles.
Newman was omnipresent for two decades at the Yankees' minor league complex in Tampa, Florida, his portly frame easily recognizable from a distance. His tenure oversaw the rise through the system of Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Robinson Canó, David Robertson and Phil Hughes.
"You can't reflect on the championships and postseason appearances during Mark's time without recognizing how much he meant to the organization," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in a statement.
"He had a great baseball acumen but also an uncanny ability to cultivate incredible loyalty and work ethic from the players he worked with, which was especially notable among our Latin players, whom he treated with a special care and respect. Countless players, even after achieving success in the majors, would always go back to him for advice."
Newman helped the Saluki baseball team to the 1969 College World Series as a pitcher, going 2-0 with a 0.32 ERA in 16 appearances. The Salukis finished 36-9-1, losing to USC in the national championship game. He graduated in 1970 and joined his alma mater as the pitching coach from 1972-80. Newman was hired as Old Dominion's head coach in 1981 and went 321-167-3 in nine seasons.
Newman was inducted into Old Dominion's Hall of Fame in 1997 and the SIU Hall of Fame in 2000.
"Words can’t express my sorrow today in learning the passing of Mark Newman," Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton, a former Saluki, tweeted Saturday. "He gave me my first job in baseball with @Yankees, challenged us everyday to be a better coach, communicator and listener. Baseball lost a great teacher and I lost a mentor and friend. RIP Mark."
Mike Reis, SIU's Hall of Fame broadcaster, thanked Newman for his patience in his early years covering the Saluki baseball team.
"Mark Newman is critical to my career and to a program I love, @SIU_Baseball," Reis tweeted. "Patient when I needed it as a rookie in the late '70s. Inpatient when I needed it. He believed in me before I did."
He joined the Yankees as coordinator of minor league instruction in 1989 and was promoted to director of player development and scouting in 1996, vice president of player development and scouting in 1997 and senior vice president of baseball operations in 2000.
"He was very passionate about all the guys in the minor league system," Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner said in a statement. "I remember how hard he was on me, and I remember how hard he was on all of us. But I also remember it coming from a good place, and it coming from a place of wanting to make us not just better players but better people, as well."
The Yankees won the World Series title in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009, and lost in the 2001 and 2003 Series.
Newman retired at the end of the 2014 season, as the expiration of his contract approached, after several years in which the Yankees struggled to produce prospects.
"He would come to the Dominican Republic and watch me during tryouts," Yankees catcher Gary Sánchez said in a statement. "He was the one who signed me. He was like a father to me because he taught me so much at a young age."
Survivors include wife Pat, a step-daughter and two grandsons.
— Todd Hefferman contributed to this story
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