Leave While the Party’s Good


Leave While the Party’s Good

The Life and Legacy of Baseball Executive Harry Dalton

Lee C. Kluck

392 pages
26 photographs, index


June 2024


$39.95 Pre-order

About the Book

Harry Dalton was a front office executive in Major League Baseball for more than forty years, serving as general manager for the Baltimore Orioles (1966–71), the California Angels (1972–77), and the Milwaukee Brewers (1978–91). He was the principal architect of the Orioles’ dynasty and of the only American League Championship the Brewers ever won.

In this definitive biography of Dalton (1928–2005), Lee C. Kluck tells the full and colorful story of a man many consider the first modern baseball executive. In 1965 the Orioles hired Dalton to be the chief team builder and to oversee baseball operations. This was a turning point in the history of baseball, creating a new kind of executive that other teams soon began to model. In Leave While the Party’s Good Kluck details Dalton’s pre-baseball life, showing that from an early age he developed traits that would shape the rest of his life in baseball. Dalton’s early career in Baltimore, building up the organization’s farm system, would inform his later days in higher management and help turn the Orioles into a dynasty. Dalton’s move to California coincided with the arrival of free agency, forcing him to evolve his team-building approach. Following his departure from the California Angels after trading for the pieces that would make them winners in 1978, Dalton hired on with the Milwaukee Brewers’ owner Bud Selig and made the Brewers a winning team for most of the next decade, including another pennant in 1982.

Dalton won with big payrolls and small ones. He won before and after free agency. He built winning teams from nothing. Leave While the Party’s Good details all this and gives insight into how his legacy continues to influence baseball today.

Author Bio

Lee C. Kluck is a sports historian from Wisconsin. He is a frequent contributor to the Society for American Baseball Research. This is his first book.


“Front office executives in baseball are too often overlooked as crucially important figures in the history of the sport. Chief among them would be Harry Dalton, extraordinarily impactful as the general manager of three American League franchises over the period of a quarter century. But he is overlooked no longer, as Lee Kluck’s deeply researched biography gives Dalton’s remarkable career the prominence it deserves.”—Steven Treder, author of the Seymour Medal–winning Forty Years a Giant: The Life of Horace Stoneham
“Providing an in-depth examination of Harry Dalton’s career in Major League Baseball, Lee Kluck masterfully shows Dalton’s link to baseball’s past and the continuing impact Dalton has on today’s game.”—Willie Steele, editor of NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture

Table of Contents

1. An All-American Son of the Commonwealth: 1928–54
2. Present at the Creation for Forty-Five Dollars a Week: 1954
3. Competing Philosophies and Losing Baseball: 1954–61
4. The World of Harry Dalton: 1960–65
5. Changes: Winter 1965
6. Can You Believe It? 1966
7. A Different Reality: 1967–68
8. The Best Team in Baseball: 1969–71
9. The Daltons Go West: Fall 1971
10. Getting His Hands in the Dirt: 1971–72
11. Looking for the Right Combination: 1973–76
12. New World, New Dalton, Same Results: Winter 1976–Fall 1977
13. Working on His Terms: November 1977–October 1978
14. Laying the Foundation for a Winner: 1979–80
15. A Taste of Things to Come: 1981
16. The Wallbangers: October 1981–October 1982
17. Reversal of Fortune: Winter 1982–October 1985
18. Streaking: Winter 1986–Fall 1988
19. The Last Ride of the Dalton Gang: Winter 1988–Fall 1991
20. Exile, Carefree Days, and Living Nightmares: 1992–2005
Epilogue: Legacy

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