The first time I was aware of a former major league baseball player moving on to a high level front office position was with former Yankees and Mariners pitcher Jim Beattie. He was GM with the Expos and the Orioles. There had been many other examples prior to Beattie, but because Beattie played when I was a kid, he was of special interest to me.
It seemed odd that someone I knew only as wearing a baseball uniform playing a kid's game was now wearing a suit and tie, sitting in an office, dealing with salaries and bank accounts.
So when other former players emerged in high-ranking "business" roles in baseball -- Bob Watson, Ruben Amaro Jr., Billy Beane -- I took note. It just doesn't seem like a job for a baseball player, many of whom are independently wealthy and have no need for the aggravation of a desk job.
The most recent example is new Angels general manager, Jerry DiPoto, a former relief pitcher and someone who competed in the minors in the town where I currently live. Remembering him working on the mound at the fairgrounds field in Watertown, N.Y., it is odd to picture him in a business suit all the way on the other side of the country.
For Dipoto's sake, I hope he has more success than former major league infielder Tony Bernazard. Bernazard didn't reach the GM level, but he was an assistant GM for the Mets for almost five years. During that time, he was criticized by the Mets' Carlos Delgado, accused of organizing the firing of manager Willie Randolph, reported to challenge several minor league Mets to a fight, and getting in a heated argument with Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez. Bernazard was finally dismissed in July 2009.
Perhaps it was just a case of a former player unable to adjust to the ways of the front office. The ball field and the front office really are different animals. But just to prove that it can be done, I went through and found some former ballplayers in current front office roles.
I eliminated all the ex-players with "special assistant" titles, because that might be just fielding a phone call from home, for all I know. I also eliminated on-field management people, as that's too close to being a player. No scouts either, because they're not overseeing anyone, usually.
I'm positive I missed a few, but this is what I've got:
Boston Red Sox: Craig Shipley, senior vice president of player personnel and international scouting
Chicago White Sox: Buddy Bell, director of player development
Cleveland Indians: Steve Lubratich, director of player personnel
Kansas City Royals: George Brett, vice president of baseball operations (I'm suspicious of this one)
Los Angeles Angels: Jerry DiPoto, general manager; Scott Servais, assistant GM of scouting and player development
Oakland A's: Billy Beane, general manager
Texas Rangers: Nolan Ryan, CEO and president; Jim Sundberg, senior executive vice president; Jim Colborn, director of Pacific Rim operations
Arizona Diamondbacks: Quinton McCracken, assistant director of player development
Atlanta Braves: Hank Aaron, senior vice president
Milwaukee Brewers: Reid Nichols, director player development/training center
Philadelphia Phillies: Ruben Amaro Jr., senior vice president and general manager
San Francisco Giants: Dick Tidrow, vice president of player personnel; Fred Stanley, director of player development
Of course, the two ex-players running the show for the hated Giants also happen to be players from the hated Yankees of my childhood. Strike two, gentlemen.
I'm sure there are others. Feel free to add any that you know. Or hassle me for the obvious ones that I missed. I know you love to do that.
Night Card Binder candidate: Tony Bernazard, 1988 Fleer, #275
Does it make the binder?: Yes. I'll keep it away from my Francisco Rodriguez night card.