Students who dream of starting a high-tech company may aim for Stanford University, while those who want to be scientists target the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. If running a Major League Baseball team is on your to-do list, it pays to attend Amherst College.
The liberal arts college with about 1,800 students counts three current general managers among its alumni, including two—Ben Cherington of the Boston Red Sox and Neal Huntington of the Pittsburgh Pirates—that made it to this year’s playoffs. In all, there are more than a dozen alumni in front-office jobs, almost all former players or coaches for Amherst.
“It’s a great program,” said Dan Duquette, the executive vice president for baseball operations for the Baltimore Orioles, who played on the varsity team before graduating in 1980. “These guys are very passionate about baseball. It helps to be able to synthesize the data.”
The emergence of the Amherst clique reflects how sports management has changed since a decade ago when Michael Lewis’s “Moneyball” chronicled how the Oakland Athletics succeeded even while being vastly outspent by the New York Yankees and other rivals. Baseball executives today want to hire people with a sports background or who have played themselves and are educated and have analytical skills.
“These guys just aren’t nerds sitting behind the computer,” said Brian Hamm, who took over as Amherst’s head baseball coach from Bill Thurston four years ago. “These guys know baseball.”
...“This is taking Moneyball into the 21st century,” said Wayne McDonnell, an assistant professor of sports management at New York University. “Baseball has now adopted this hybrid model where we want the high IQ in terms of sport but we also want people who are very analytical, thoughtful and well-educated.”