Even when the biggest sporting event in the world is merely the release of a documentary, there is always a New York connection.
“The Last Dance,” an ESPN docuseries about Michael Jordan’s 1997-98 season, his final with the Chicago Bulls, has put a former Yankees and Mets scout back in the spotlight: legendary Bulls general manager Jerry Krause.
Krause ran the Bulls for 18 seasons through 2003, winning six NBA championships in eight years as he built teams around Jordan. Early in the 10-part documentary — which premiered Sunday and will continue every Sunday through May 17 — Krause is framed as a villain, a leader who was perceived as combative and credit-hungry, who had poor relationships with coach Phil Jackson and star players and who was the subject of mocking by Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
But before and after his Bulls run, Krause had a lengthy career in baseball, including working for the Yankees (2004) and Mets (2005-08). Krause died in 2017 at age 77.
“I hired him because both his baseball and basketball background were very intriguing,” Omar Minaya, the general manager during Krause’s time with the Mets, said this week. “He had been around great players in both sports with a winning pedigree as an executive, so that was a unique perspective.”
For close to two decades before Bulls/White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf hired him as Bulls GM, Krause had dual career tracks as a basketball scout and a baseball scout. In the latter, he spent summers working for the Indians, Athletics, Mariners and White Sox before making the full-time switch to basketball.
Among those Krause is credited with helping bring to the White Sox: Ozzie Guillen, who became a Rookie of the Year, three-time All-Star and 13-year regular after Chicago acquired the undersized teenage shortstop in a 1984 trade with the Padres. Guillen later managed the White Sox to the 2005 World Series championship.
Krause also played a role in drafting Ken Williams, who played only three major-league seasons with the White Sox (six overall) but has run White Sox baseball operations since 2000.
After resigning from the Bulls, Krause joined the Yankees as a special assistant.
"I have always considered Jerry Krause the quintessential ‘gym rat,’ and I mean that in the most complimentary way," late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said upon hiring Krause, according to The Associated Press. "All he does is work, work, work."
Then Krause went to the Mets, where Minaya used him as a pro scout. Krause seemed to like not being the boss.
“Somebody asked me the other day what I did and I said I was a private in Omar’s army,” Krause said in a 2008 interview with MLB.com. “The lady looked at me like I was nuts. I said, ‘I’m a private in Omar Minaya’s army.’ I like being a private now. I enjoy it. My days of being a general are over.
“Omar’s sent me around the world. I’ve been to Japan and I’ve done projects for him. I like that idea that I can be versatile enough to help him.”
Minaya now is a special assistant with the Mets.
“I have very fond memories of our relationship," Minaya said of Krause. "Felt fortunate to be able to hire him because he was a hard worker and had great knowledge on how to break down a player from a scouting perspective.”
In 2011, the Reinsdorf/Williams White Sox brought back Krause, making him their international scouting director. Krause later worked for the Diamondbacks.
“I always learned a lot from our conversations because we even talked about the similarities between great players in baseball and basketball with the athleticism required for both sports,” Minaya said. “He loved talking scouting and had a great knack for it.”