Major League Genes
Now at the helm of the Baltimore Orioles, third-generation baseball exec. Andy MacPhail ’76 hopes to return the team to past glories.
by Sherri Kimmel
October 1, 2009
An American-studies major at Dickinson, Andy MacPhail '76 spends his days in the upper echelons of the great American pastime. He's been leading baseball operations at Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the last three years. Photo by E.M. Sweeney Jr.
Saying the name MacPhail in professional baseball circles probably has as much resonance as the name Kennedy in the world of politics. In Baltimore, that family has been attached to the hometown team off and on for more than 50 years, most recently with the ascension in 2007 of Andy MacPhail '76 to the upper deck at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
After spending 12 years in Chicago as president/CEO of the Cubs, MacPhail was eager to return to the team he rooted for growing up. His father, Lee MacPhail, was the Baltimore Orioles' general manager and club president, 1958-66, before heading to the Yankees as general manager.
Later, Lee was president of the American League and now is the oldest member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He's half of the only father/son duo enshrined in the hall. His father Larry was chief executive of the Cincinnati Reds , the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees and pioneered nighttime baseball, regular game televising and the flying of teams between games.
“You never know what path your career will take in sports, but this was definitely one stop I hoped to make before my career was over,” says Andy MacPhail, president of baseball operations for the Baltimore Orioles. “It's definitely been a labor of love. I'm doing what I can to get the Orioles into a better position in the standings. Despite not making as much progress in the win/loss standings, I'm satisfied with changes we've made. We're doing the things we need to compete in our division.
“We've embarked on a pretty aggressive rebuilding program,” he adds. This includes the acquisition of 10 young players. “We've taken the roster and skewed it toward the much younger and more talented. We're building a base of young talent to compete with the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox. It's hard to put a timetable on how long this will take, but early returns are coming along a little more quickly than I anticipated.”
Despite ending the 2009 season at the bottom of the American League East bracket, being back in Baltimore is invigorating for MacPhail. “We're close to family and the area we always enjoyed. Brother Al ['67] is in New York, just a train ride away.”
Al isn't Andy's only Dickinson sibling. There's also brother Bruce '73. In the next generation is Bruce's son Logan '08 and Al's son Bryan '04. As Andy notes, “Like baseball, Dickinson seems to be part of the family DNA.” They've shown their regard for both the sport and the college by funding a new baseball home for the Red Devils, MacPhail Field, in 2003.
Though not a Dickinson grad, Lee MacPhail IV represents generation next for the baseball dynasty. He's in the front office with Andy as the O's director of professional scouting. “Lee was one of the first people I was fortunate enough to bring on,” MacPhail says. “He'd spent a couple of weeks with me each summer since he was 12 and loved the game. He has the academic and technological skills and the ability to evaluate players. Four generations of MacPhails can't find honest work anywhere else,” Andy says with a laugh.
Lee may not be the last MacPhail to enter professional baseball management. Both of Andy's sons, one in college, one in high school, are keenly interested in what dad does for a living. “They follow the game closely and in great detail and depth,” he says. “They have access to a lot of information and enjoy explaining to their father when he make mistakes.”