Mark Armour and Dan Levitt have written a book: In Pursuit of Pennants, which examines how front offices have historically found innovative ways to build winning teams. In support of that, they are counting down the top-25 GMs of all time over at their blog. Since it’s slow season, I’m going to continue linking to the countdown as it’s great stuff we rarely read about in the normal course.
Maybe I oversell that in the headline, but not by much. Everyone knows that Babe Ruth was acquired by the Yankees from the Red Sox. Few know that Ed Barrow, the man who built the original Yankees Dynasty, was also acquired from the Red Sox, one year later. Barrow was the Sox’ manager, but the Yankees put him in charge of the front office.
In some ways he invented the modern-day position of GM, marrying the business side and the baseball side of baseball operations, whereas before it was separate. I guess that has since broken down some more, with baseball operations people now focusing less on the business side, but Barrow’s model held for most of the 20th century. He also put together the best scouting operation in all of baseball. And, of course, laid the groundwork for the Yankees to dominate for over forty years.
By the way, Dan Levitt wrote a book just about Barrow back in 2008. It was excellent! I reviewed it for the New York Post at the time, if you’re curious. If you’re not, at least go read Dan and Mark’s assessment of Barrow here.