General manager (baseball)

Last updated

In Major League Baseball, the general manager (GM) of a team typically controls player transactions and bears the primary responsibility on behalf of the ballclub during contract discussions with players.

Contents

Roles and responsibilities

The general manager is normally the person who hires and fires the coaching staff, including the field manager who acts as the head coach. In baseball, the term manager used without qualification almost always refers to the field manager, not the general manager.

Before the 1960s, and in some rare cases since then, a person with the general manager title in sports has also borne responsibility for the non-player operations of the ballclub, such as ballpark administration and broadcasting. Ed Barrow, George Weiss and Gabe Paul were three baseball GMs noted for their administrative skills in both player and non-player duties.[ citation needed ]

History and evolution

In the first decades of baseball's post-1901 modern era, responsibilities for player acquisition fell upon the club owner and/or president and the field manager. [1] In some cases, particularly in the early years of the American League, the owner was a former player or manager himself: Charles Comiskey of the Chicago White Sox, Connie Mack of the Philadelphia Athletics, and Clark Griffith of the Washington Senators are three prominent examples. Other owners tended to be magnates from the business world, or some, like Brooklyn Dodgers' president Charles Ebbets, worked their way from front-office jobs into ownership positions. Most deferred player personnel evaluations to their on-field managers. One notable exception, cited by Mark L. Armour and Daniel R. Leavitt in their book In Pursuit of Pennants, was German immigrant Barney Dreyfuss, owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1900–1932. Dreyfuss had no playing background, but was one of the most astute judges of talent of his time; [1] under him, Pittsburgh won six National League pennants and two World Series titles. The New York Giants' John McGraw, who also held a minority ownership stake in the team, is an example of a powerful manager who, during his three decades at the Giants' helm, exerted control over off-field aspects of the team's operation. [1]

According to Baseball Almanac, the first man to hold the title of general manager was Billy Evans when he was appointed by the Cleveland Indians in 1927. [2] However, the duties of the modern general manager already had been assumed by two executives — Barrow of the New York Yankees and Branch Rickey of the St. Louis Cardinals — whose formal title at the time was business manager. Both were former field managers of big-league teams, although Barrow had no professional playing background. [3] [4]

They assumed those positions (Barrow in 1920 and Rickey five years later) when clubs could legally control only 15 minor league players on option, and most young players were purchased or drafted from independently owned minor league teams. Rickey, creator of the modern and extensive farm system during the 1920s and 1930s, played a critical role in inventing the need for a general manager as well: with most teams coming to own or affiliate with multiple minor league teams from Class D to the top tier, and with dozens (and in some cases hundreds) of players under contract, they needed a front-office infrastructure to oversee the major league club, scouting and player procurement, minor league operations and player development, and business affairs. The general manager, in lieu of the "owner-operator", provided that oversight.

But both the owner-operator and the field-manager-as-GM models would survive into the 1980s. Owners Charlie Finley of the Oakland Athletics and Calvin Griffith of the Minnesota Twins functioned as their own chiefs of baseball operations. During the 1970s and 1980s, Alvin Dark of the Cleveland Indians, Billy Martin of the Athletics (after Finley sold them in 1981), and Whitey Herzog of the Cardinals combined manager and general manager duties, while Paul Owens of the Philadelphia Phillies and Jack McKeon of the San Diego Padres were general managers who appointed themselves field managers and held both posts.

Trend towards "presidents of baseball operations"

During the second decade of the 21st century, a trend began in Major League Baseball that saw the creation of a new layer of authority between ownership and the general manager, almost always termed the President of Baseball Operations. In some cases, these "POBOs" work in concert with others in the organization styled as presidents, but with non-baseball-centric responsibilities, like President/CEO or /COO. Writing for Sports Business Daily in March 2015, legal academic and sports lawyer Glenn M. Wong observed: "No longer is it always true that the GM is the final decision-maker with respect to baseball decisions." [5] Larry Beinfest of the Florida Marlins was the first to hold the POBO title, in 2007. [5] One of the reasons for the creation of this new position cited by SBD in 2015 is the soaring costs and revenues associated with modern MLB operations. "Ownership is often heavily involved in major investments and decisions ... Installing another layer creates a sort of checks and balances system and a checkpoint for the decision-making process." [5]

Three months later, another article by Wong published in the Sports Business Daily revisited the topic and compared the evolving job descriptions and career trajectories of general managers and POBOs. [6] In 2016, SBD writer Eric Fisher cited the growing importance of data analytics in playing personnel evaluations and long-term planning (in addition to in game strategy), and heavier investments in player development, domestically and internationally, as contributing to the POBO movement and other structural changes in baseball front offices. [7]

The 2019 Baseball America Annual Directory listed 12 presidents of baseball operations among the 30 MLB teams, as well as one "chief baseball officer" and four "executive vice presidents of baseball operations" operating above the general manager level or also holding the GM title. [8]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Billy Beane</span> American baseball player and executive

William Lamar Beane III is an American former professional baseball player and current front office executive. He is the executive vice president of baseball operations and minority owner of the Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball (MLB); he is also minority owner of Barnsley FC of the EFL League One in England and AZ Alkmaar of the Eredivisie in the Netherlands. From 1984 to 1989 he played in MLB as an outfielder for the New York Mets, Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers, and Oakland Athletics. He joined the Athletics' front office as a scout in 1990, was named general manager after the 1997 season, and was promoted to executive vice president after the 2015 season.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Branch Rickey</span> American baseball player, manager, and executive (1881–1965)

Wesley Branch Rickey was an American baseball player and sports executive. Rickey was instrumental in breaking Major League Baseball's color barrier by signing black player Jackie Robinson. He also created the framework for the modern minor league farm system, encouraged the Major Leagues to add new teams through his involvement in the proposed Continental League, and introduced the batting helmet. He was posthumously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967.

A general manager (GM) is an executive who has overall responsibility for managing both the revenue and cost elements of a company's income statement, known as profit & loss (P&L) responsibility. A general manager usually oversees most or all of the firm's marketing and sales functions as well as the day-to-day operations of the business. Frequently, the general manager is responsible for effective planning, delegating, coordinating, staffing, organizing, and decision making to attain desirable profit making results for an organization.

Buzzie Bavasi American baseball executive

Emil Joseph "Buzzie" Bavasi was an American executive in Major League Baseball who played a major role in the operation of three franchises from the late 1940s through the mid-1980s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gabe Paul</span> American baseball executive

Gabriel Howard Paul was an American executive in Major League Baseball who, between 1951 and 1984, served as general manager of the Cincinnati Reds, Houston Colt .45s, Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees. He also was president and part-owner of the Indians and president and limited partner of the Yankees.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bill DeWitt</span>

William Orville DeWitt Sr. was an American professional baseball executive and club owner whose career in Major League Baseball (MLB) spanned more than 60 years. His son William Jr. is currently the principal owner and managing partner of the St. Louis Cardinals, while grandson William III is the Cardinals' president.

Dave Dombrowski American baseball executive

David Dombrowski is an American baseball executive who serves as the President of Baseball Operations for the Philadelphia Phillies of Major League Baseball (MLB). Dombrowski also previously served as the general manager of the Montreal Expos, the general manager and president of the Florida Marlins and Detroit Tigers, and president of baseball operations for the Boston Red Sox. During his tenure as a baseball executive, he has helped build two World Series winning teams — the Marlins in 1997, and the Red Sox in 2018.

Robert Lee Howsam was an American professional sports executive and entrepreneur. In 1959, he played a key role in establishing two leagues—the American Football League, which succeeded and merged with the National Football League, and baseball's Continental League, which never played a game but forced expansion of Major League Baseball (MLB) from 16 to 20 teams in 1961–62. Howsam then became a prominent MLB executive as the highly successful general manager (GM) and club president of the Cincinnati Reds during the Big Red Machine dynasty between 1967 and 1977, when his team won four National League pennants and two World Series titles. He also served as GM of the St. Louis Cardinals from August 17, 1964, until January 1967, where he inherited a team that would win the 1964 World Series, but made material contributions to the Redbirds' 1967 world champions and 1968 pennant-winners.

Sam Breadon American baseball executive

Samuel Wilson Breadon was an American executive who served as the president and majority owner of the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1920 through 1947. During that time, the Cardinals rose from languishing as one of the National League's doormats to a premier power in baseball, winning nine NL pennants and six World Series championships. Breadon also had the highest regular season winning percentage of any owner in franchise history at .570. His teams totaled 2,470 wins and 1,830 losses.

John Schuerholz American baseball executive

John Boland Schuerholz Jr. is an American baseball front office executive. He was the general manager of Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves from 1990 to 2007, and then served as the Braves president for a decade from 2007 until 2016. Before joining Atlanta, he spent 22 years with the Kansas City Royals organization, including nine (1982–1990) as the club's general manager. Among the teams he built are the 1985 Royals and 1995 Braves, both World Series champions. His teams have also won their division 16 times, including 14 consecutive times in Atlanta. During his time with the Braves, they won five National League pennants and played in nine National League Championship series. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2017.

Richard Henry O'Connell was an American front office executive in Major League Baseball. He was executive vice president of the Boston Red Sox from 1961 through 1977 and served as general manager of the team from September 16, 1965, through October 24, 1977, a period during which he played a pivotal role in restoring the Red Sox to contending status, won two American League pennants, and helped make the team a flagship MLB franchise.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bobby Bragan</span> American baseball player and manager

Robert Randall Bragan was an American shortstop, catcher, manager, and coach in Major League Baseball and an influential minor league executive. His professional baseball career encompassed 73 years, from his first season as a player in the Class D Alabama–Florida League in 1937, to 2009, the last full year of his life, when he was still listed as a consultant to the Texas Rangers' organization.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sandy Alderson</span> American baseball executive

Richard Lynn "Sandy" Alderson is an American baseball executive. He is currently the president of the New York Mets. He previously served as the general manager of the New York Mets from 2011 to 2018, an executive in the Oakland Athletics and San Diego Padres organizations, and the commissioner's office of Major League Baseball. As a front office executive, Alderson led the Athletics to a World Series championship in 1989 and led the Athletics to the World Series in three straight seasons. Alderson led the Mets to the 2015 World Series.

Henry Roy Hamey was an American front-office executive in Major League Baseball (MLB). A longtime employee of the New York Yankees, he was appointed the club's general manager in November 1960. Inheriting a pennant-winner from his predecessor, George Weiss, he maintained the Yankees' dominant position in MLB by producing three additional American League champions and two World Series champions in three full seasons before retiring in the autumn of 1963. Hamey also spent nine years as the general manager of two National League franchises, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies, during the period between 1947 and 1958.

Hank Peters

Henry John Peters was an American professional baseball executive who held senior management positions for the Kansas City Athletics, Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles of Major League Baseball between 1965 and 1991. During his dozen years as general manager of the Orioles (1976–87), Baltimore won two American League pennants and the 1983 World Series championship. Peters was named The Sporting News Executive of the Year after both pennant-winning seasons.

Jeff Luhnow American baseball executive

Jeff Luhnow is a Mexican-American former baseball executive and owner of Mexican club Cancún F.C. and CD Leganés of Spain. He worked for the St. Louis Cardinals in their scouting department from 2003 through 2011, before joining the Astros in December 2011. On January 13, 2020, Luhnow was fired by the Astros after Major League Baseball suspended him for the entire 2020 season as a result of the electronic sign-stealing scandal. Prior to working in baseball, Luhnow was a business entrepreneur.

References

  1. 1 2 3 Armour, Mark; Leavitt, Daniel (2015). In Pursuit of Pennants. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN   978-0-8032-3497-0.
  2. Baseball Almanac.com
  3. National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum official web site, Edward Grant Barrow
  4. Leavitt, Daniel R., Ed Barrow. Society for American Baseball Research Biography Project
  5. 1 2 3 Wong, Glenn (16 March 2015), "How Leadership Shift Has Changed MLB Front Offices," Sports Business Daily
  6. Wong, Glenn (15 June 2015), "Profiling MLB Club Leadership: Presidents v. General Managers," Sports Business Daily
  7. Fisher, Eric (21 March 2016), "Who Calls the Shots? Baseball's Burgeoning Front Offices," Sports Business Daily
  8. Lowe, Kegan, and Norris, Josh, editors (2019), Baseball America Annual Directory. Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America. ISBN   978-1-932391-83-1