THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON ALUMNI MAGAZINE
After his nine-year major-league baseball career came to an end in 1986, the last thing Jim Beattie wanted was to be known as a "former ballplayer." An M.B.A. degree, the Seattle Mariner pitcher decided, would give him a better feel for areas of business he was interested in-and "more credibility than just [being] an ex-jock." So he enrolled at the UW School of Business.
His instincts were right on the money. After receiving his M.B.A. from the UW in 1989, Beattie (who also has a bachelor's degree from Dartmouth) rejoined the Mariners as their director of player development. He spent six years overseeing the Mariners' minor league system, playing a role in major league player acquisition, contract negotiation and scouting.
Today, the "ex-jock" tag is long gone. Instead, Beattie, 44, is known as the man with perhaps the least enviable management position in baseball. As the vice president and general manager of the Montreal Expos for the past four years, he has had to trade away his young stars year after year because the Expos-by virtue of their small market-have the lowest payroll in baseball at $9 million. (The Mariners, by comparison, are near the upper third of baseball's food chain with a $53 million payroll.)
Those payroll constraints could loosen up if the Expos get a new stadium in downtown Montreal. The highly controversial matter--which depends on significant funding from the government--has been debated for months and is still unsettled. Recent rumors have had the Expos moving to the Washington, D.C., area. If the Expos don't get a new stadium, they will relocate, owners state.
Amid the uncertainty, Beattie credits his time at the UW with giving him the foundation to run a major league franchise. "The University didn't take too many people right out of undergraduate school," says the balding, 6-foot-6 Beattie. "Most had three to five years working experience. So it was fun to get back in class with people who appreciated studying and learning."
A fair major league pitcher (lifetime 52-87 record with the Yankees and Mariners) who appeared in the 1978 World Series with New York, Beattie knows how to develop talent. Among his successes is Mariner shortstop Alex Rodriguez. But many of his youngsters were traded for veterans. A prime example: In 1995, the Mariners traded three No. 1 draft picks (pitchers Roger Salkeld and Ron Villone and first baseman Marc Newfield) to get veteran pitchers Andy Benes and Tim Belcher.
"That's all part of player development," Beattie said. "Your job is to develop guys and get them ready for the big leagues, whether they play for you or not."
Those trades helped in the short run, as the Mariners reached the American League Championship Series in 1995-their best finish ever. Now the heat on Beattie to turn the Expos into a winner. "This is what I am working for," he says. -Gary Libman
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