The International League announced today that Governors' Cup winner and National Baseball Hall of Famer Bobby Cox, two-time All-Star Sam Jethroe, two-time batting champion Billy McMillon, and the 1992 Sporting News Minor League Executive of the Year Lou Schwechheimerwill be inducted into the League's Hall of Fame as members of the Class of 2019. The four men were elected to the IL Hall by a vote of living Hall of Famers, longtime executives, broadcasters, and members of the media.
The members of the Class of 2019 have been added to the International League Hall of Fame plaque display. The new inductees or family members will be presented with "The Curtain Call" statue during individual enshrinement ceremonies yet to be scheduled. The IL Hall of Fame plaque display serves as a traveling testament to the storied legacy of the International League.
Bobby Cox won Governors' Cups as both a player and manager with the Syracuse Chiefs. In four seasons as the club's skipper, he took the Chiefs to three finals appearances and captured the 1976 League title. Before embarking on his Hall of Fame managerial career in the Major Leagues, Cox posted the highest winning percentage (.538) in the Chiefs' franchise history, earning induction to the Syracuse Baseball Wall of Fame. In 2007, Cox moved into 4th place on the all-time MLB managerial wins list. He was elected to Cooperstown in 2014.
Sam "The Jet" Jethroe hit .293 over seven seasons in the International League for Montreal and Toronto. The two-time All-Star played for two Governors' Cup champions and three pennant winners. He led the circuit twice in hits and three times in both runs scored and stolen bases. His totals of 207 hits and 154 runs in 1949 have not been matched since in the IL. The former Negro Leagues star was the 1950 National League Rookie of the Year for the Boston Braves.
The newly named manager of the Pawtucket Red Sox, Billy McMillon, earns induction to the IL Hall of Fame on the strength of his playing career with Charlotte, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Toledo, and Columbus. McMillon entered the League with a bang in 1996, hitting .352 with 17 home runs and 70 RBI to earn IL Rookie of the Year honors. That year the outfielder also picked up his first of three All-Star nods and first of two League batting titles. McMillon's MLB career saw him appear in 269 games for the Marlins, Phillies, Tigers, and A's. He retired following the 2004 season.
Lou Schwechheimer was twice honored as the IL Executive of the Year during a remarkable run of 37 years of service for the Pawtucket Red Sox. Hired as an intern in 1978, he would eventually be the franchise's part-owner. Schwechheimer served as Pawtucket's Vice-President and General Manager from 1986 through 2015. Over 17 million fans passed through McCoy Stadium's gates during his tenure. PawSox Vice Chairman and IL Hall of Famer Mike Tamburro called Schwechheimer "a pillar on which the Pawtucket Red Sox franchise was built."
The IL Hall of Fame, established in 1947, was dormant from 1964 until the League's 125th Anniversary season in 2008. Following a three-year transition period (2008-10) in which a total of 50 individuals were inducted after having been selected by a committee, the Class of 2019 was the ninth chosen by the current annual election process. Each year the top three vote-getters who also receive a vote on the majority of ballots cast are elected. Due to two individuals having received an equal number of votes in this year's balloting, for the first time a class is being expanded to four inductees.
Complete statistical data and biographical information on all 126 members of the IL Hall of Fame, along with a copy of
the International League Hall of Fame policies, procedures, and guidelines are available at ILBaseball.com.
Bobby Cox won Governors' Cups as both a player and manager in the International League before beginning a Hall of Fame managerial career with the Atlanta Braves. Cox hit .297 for the 1967 Richmond Braves team that captured the pennant. After a trade to New York, he spent 1968 and 1969 with the Yankees but bad knees caused a return to the IL. In 1970 his Syracuse club won the Governors' Cup.
The following season saw the beginning of Cox's managerial career in the minors, and in 1973 he returned to Syracuse where he took the Chiefs to three finals appearances in four years. His 1976 club remains the last Syracuse team to win the Governors' Cup. Cox went on to a highly successful managerial career in the Major Leagues with Atlanta (1978-81 & 1990-2010) and Toronto (1982-85). He was named Manager of the Year four times, won the 1995 World Series, and had his uniform number six retired by the Braves.
In 2007 Cox passed Sparky Anderson to move into 4th on the all-time MLB managerial wins list. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2014.
Sam "The Jet" Jethroe was a star in the Negro Leagues before he signed with the Montreal Royals in 1948, just two seasons after Jackie Robinson broke the IL's color barrier with the same team. In 1949, Jethroe was an IL All-Star. His 207 hits and 154 runs scored that season are marks that have not been matched since in the International League, and just one player since Jethroe (Otis Nixon, 1983) has surpassed 89 stolen bases. The Royals captured the Governors' Cup that season.
Jethroe was the 1950 National League Rookie of the Year. Despite winning a pair of MLB stolen base titles, he was back in Triple-A by the 1953 season with Toledo of the American Association. He returned to the IL the following season with Toronto, still among the League's top players as the Maple Leafs won the Governors' Cup.
In seven seasons and 875 games played in the IL, Jethroe hit .293 with 615 runs scored and 205 stolen bases. After retiring, Jethroe moved to Erie, Pennsylvania where he worked in a factory for several years before opening a bar. He passed away in 2001.
Billy McMillon was drafted by the Florida Marlins in 1993 out of Clemson University where he owned the school's highest career batting average. His 12-year playing career included parts of six seasons in the major leagues as an outfielder with the Florida Marlins (1996-97), Philadelphia Phillies (1997), Detroit Tigers (2000-01), and Oakland Athletics (2001-04).
Along the way, he hit .310 in over 600 International League games with the Knights, Red Barons, Mud Hens, and Clippers. McMillon was the 1996 IL Rookie of the Year after hitting .352 for Charlotte, and the following season he became just the second player in Knights history to hit three home runs in a game. After spending parts of three seasons with SWB, McMillon went to Toledo in 2000 and captured his second League batting title. Two years later he played his final season in the IL for Columbus and earned his third All-Star nod.
Since 2008 McMillon has worked in the Red Sox farm system, where as a skipper he's captured a League championship in Class-A and Manager of the Year honors in Double-A. McMillon was named manager of the IL's Pawtucket Red Sox for the 2019 season.
Lou Schwechheimer was hired by the Pawtucket Red Sox as an intern in 1978; he would eventually be part-owner of the club before departing with 37 years of service to the franchise. Schwechheimer was named International League Executive of the Year in 1987 and 1992, and the PawSox under his stewardship twice won the Bob Freitas Award, as selected by Baseball America, for excellence in Minor League Baseball operations. Pawtucket hosted the Triple-A All-Star Game in 2004. More than 17 million fans passed through the gates of McCoy Stadium during his tenure.
"Lou Schwechheimer was a pillar on which the Pawtucket Red Sox franchise was built," IL Hall of Famer Mike Tamburro said. "His hard work, vision and creativity allowed the PawSox to take their place among Minor League Baseball's premier clubs."
Schwechheimer was a driving force behind McCoy Stadium's renovations in the late 1990's as well as securing exhibition games at McCoy Stadium for USA Baseball's collegiate team versus Chinese Taipei in 2000 and Italy in 2005. He led the team's sales and marketing operation, coordinating corporate accounts and promotional schedules as well as organizing special events. Schwechheimer is today the principal owner of the New Orleans Baby Cakes in the Pacific Coast League and the Charlotte Stone Crabs of the Florida State League.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.