Indians' new GM a Hoya at heart
How, exactly, did rebounding pregame jump shots for Allen Iverson and filling Gatorade cups for Othella Harrington prepare Chris Antonetti for a career as the general manager of a Major League Baseball team? Let's just say the effect was indirect.
"It was an unbelievable experience," said Antonetti, who served as a student-manager for the 1995-96 Georgetown Hoyas team that went to the regional finals of the NCAA tournament. "It went beyond just the basketball side of things -- it was lots of life stuff, too. Just being around Coach [John] Thompson and [former GU academic advisor] Mary Fenlon and the assistant coaches. It was just a really, really fun time."
Last month, Antonetti, 35, was named the new GM of the Cleveland Indians, effective at the end of this season, as current GM Mark Shapiro ascends to the title of team president. As such, he becomes at least the third D.C.-educated GM in baseball, joining the New York Yankees' Brian Cashman (Georgetown Prep, Catholic University) and the Arizona Diamondbacks' Josh Byrnes (St. Albans). (In addition, Paul DePodesta, former Los Angeles Dodgers GM and currently a special assistant for the San Diego Padres, attended Episcopal High in Alexandria.)
He was the third of four Antonetti brothers who graduated from Georgetown, two of whom went on to graduate from Georgetown Medical School. ("They're the smart ones," Chris said, "and I've got the cool job.") As for Chris, he took a business degree in 1996 and a master's from the sports management program at the University of Massachusetts in 1997.
Antonetti's big break in baseball came when he scored an unpaid internship with the Montreal Expos in 1997, working at the team's minor-league headquarters in West Palm Beach, Fla., under then-farm director Dave Littlefield and assistant Neal Huntington. (Littlefield would go on to be GM of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and upon being fired, was succeeded by Huntington.)
Antonetti said he never really dreamed of being a GM -- which would make him unique among the hoardes of young, eager executives inflitrating baseball front offices these days.
"It's never been about an end-goal," he said. "I focus more on what I do day-to-day. What I'm passionate about is the team-building, the relationships. I really try to embrace the job I have, because I'm very cognizant of how fortunate I am to be doing something I'm passionate about."
Although Shapiro (himself a product of the Gilman School in Baltimore) rolled his eyes when asked about Antonetti's Hoya loyalty -- "He's always watching their games on his TV," Shapiro said -- the two men are the primary architects of one of baseball's most respected and envied front offices, with Antonetti spending the past eight years as Shapiro's assistant.
And now for the important stuff. Here is Antonetti's scouting report on the 2009-10 Hoyas as March Madness gets underway: "A lot of it is going to depend on when [Austin] Freeman returns. But it's a very talented starting five, but just not a lot of depth. There were times, with Chris Wright, Freeman and Greg Monroe, that any of those guys could dominate a game for awhile. And Jason Clark has obviously been a good complementary player. But you can see how the rigors of the Big East schedule can wear you down when you only go six or seven deep."
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