A Life Spent in Sports


With championship trophies behind him, Jerry Krause ’61 speaks with the media as general manager of the Chicago Bulls at a 1999 press conference. Photo: AP / Frank Polich.

SPORTS HAVE BEEN A BIG PART OF LIFE for Jerry Krause ’61 for most of his 74 years. Starting out on the sandlots of Chicago as a player, he worked behind the scenes for the Bradley basketball team during his time as a student. Then, it was on to the major-league level in both baseball and basketball, scouting for teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers, Chicago Bulls, Baltimore Bullets and Chicago White Sox. In 1985, Krause reached the top as general manager of the Chicago Bulls during their successful title runs in the 1980s and 1990s.

Krause’s career taught him there are no small or insignificant tasks on the road to success. “No one coach, player, general manager or scout wins championships. Organizations win championships,” he said, citing his father’s motto: “Patience plus perseverance equals success.”

Krause and Bulls legend Michael Jordan celebrate Jordan’s new contract with the team in 1988. Photo: AP / Mark Elias.

After his Bulls career, Krause resumed scouting. During the past decade, he has worked for the Yankees, Mets, White Sox, and now as a special assistant to the general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“If you walk out of a ballpark and you haven’t learned anything, you’ve wasted that day,” Krause said. “The game always changes; you never see two games alike. People don’t realize scouting is an art.”

As a Bradley student, Krause was given a job charting plays by basketball coach Chuck Orsborn ’39 MS ’51. The English major recalled Orsborn working to keep him in school when he considered dropping out. “Chuck Orsborn was really good to me — a special person. He was about the best human I’ve ever been around,” Krause recalled, adding the pair watched game films early in the morning before classes. “Bradley gave me a very good education, and I had a good education in basketball and baseball. I will be forever grateful.”

Krause played Bradley baseball for a year under the watchful eye of longtime coach Leo Schrall, MA ’67. He remembered using some bigger teammates for cover during calisthenics and being called out by Schrall: “He barked at me, but we had fun together.”

The NBA Executive of the Year in 1988, Krause also has been honored by Bradley. He was inducted into the Centurion Society in 1996 and is in the Athletics Hall of Fame. He and his wife, Thelma, have two children and two grandchildren.

— Bob Grimson ’81