ATLANTA— John Schuerholz completed what he called "the best negotiation of my entire career" by convincing his longtime friend John Hart to accept the role of president of baseball operations.
With Hart taking the newly created title on Thursday, the Braves aren't looking for a general manager. The 66-year-old Hart agreed to a three-year contract that will continue through the team's first season at its new stadium in Cobb County.
Hart became interim general manager Sept. 22. The team had sought a full-time replacement for Frank Wren, who was fired last month after a 79-83 finish this season.
Hart, Schuerholz and former Braves manager Bobby Cox formed the GM search committee. Hart said last month his only interest was in the interim job, but Schuerholz, the team president, wouldn't accept that as a final answer.
"We met as transition team quite a number of times and when we were at the meetings invariably I'd pull out my list and I'd say 'OK, are we going to talk about the GMs?'" Hart said. "At some point John would get up, he'd take a phone call, he'd go to the bathroom. ... I think all along I did feel and know that John clearly wanted me to take this job."
Hart, the former GM for the Rangers and Indians, joined the Braves last year as a senior adviser.
Schuerholz described Hart as "a man who has demonstrated great ability in constructing winning baseball organizations, winning baseball teams, creating staffs of very capable people empowered to do great jobs in each of the organizations he has run."
Hart said he has turned down similar opportunities with other teams that lacked the "personal component" he has with Schuerholz.
Schuerholz, who was the Royals' GM before taking over as the Braves' GM in 1990, returned to Kansas City for Game 1 of the World Series this week. He said he was asked by owners and executives why he hadn't convinced Hart to take the full-time role in Atlanta.
Schuerholz said he was told it would be great to have Hart back in baseball.
"So I was motivated by that and came back and had my last and final conversation with my dear friend," Schuerholz said. "I was able to persuade him this was the place to be and this was the organization he could have so much of an impact on in a very positive and energetic way and get us to where we want to be, and that's at the very top, the gold standard baseball organization that we have always been regarded as."
Schuerholz said assistant GM John Coppolella will be Hart's "right-hand man."
"Coppy was a big part of the reason I took this job," Hart said. "I think you will see Coppy is a young man who is going to develop and grow."
Schuerholz sat with Kansas City GM Dayton Moore at the World Series. Moore was a former assistant under Schuerholz with the Braves, but Schuerholz said he never approached Moore about the Braves' position.
"It would be disrespectful for me to even talk to him about that," Schuerholz said.