Major League Baseball GMs Excel on Isenberg-McCormack Panel
November 16, 2012
From left to right: Chris Antonetti, Ben Cherington and Neal Huntington
On November 13, Isenberg's Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management drew a standing-room-only audience of 700 to a panel discussion featuring three major league general managers-all McCormack graduates. The GMs-Ben Cherington '97 MS of the Boston Red Sox, Neal Huntington '92 MS of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Chris Antonetti '98 MS of the Cleveland Indians-recounted their career challenges and student years in the McCormack program. They discussed their current managerial challenges and weighed in on trends in major league baseball.
For Antonetti, the McCormack department brought industry leverage through "an unbelievable alumni network." He and his fellow students gained an edge through internships and other hands-on experience-a hallmark of the McCormack program. By encouraging diverse points of view and backgrounds, the department, added Cherington, advocated problem solving and continuous improvement. And its culture of challenge in the classroom and experiential learning helped graduates to differentiate themselves in the marketplace, said Huntington. Today, the dual sport management/business degree with Isenberg is "a tremendous separator [in the market]," he emphasized.
As a general manager, Cherington emphasized that he works to build an organization that values trust, integrity, and a single-minded focus on the game at hand. The bigger part of the job is not tactical, but to create a winning alignment and purposefulness, he said. That's especially relevant, added Huntington, in light of today's 24-7 news cycle, where "we and the athletes are never off the clock." Team cohesiveness, he remarked, is crucial as an antidote to those distractions. The three GMs also applauded the evolving coexistence of traditional baseball savvy and Moneyball-type statistical tools. As Antonetti noted, the Moneyball/Sabermetrics phenomenon has attracted a richer, more diverse hiring pool and tools-a true plus for the game.
The panel's moderator, ESPN journalist Mike Reiss, was a 1997 McCormack graduate.