Rohan: Three GMs true to one school

From Tim Rohan at the New York Times on December 1, 2013:

If becoming a baseball general manager is to be accepted into an old boys’ club, then the annual general managers meetings are their grand convention. The executives spend a few days each off-season sitting through presentations and talking baseball, ending each night with big dinners and drinks at the hotel bar until it closes. Then they do it all again, only bigger, at the winter meetings a few weeks later.

These events are about the only times Ben Cherington, Neal Huntington and Dan Duquette have a chance to catch up. Their friendship may be the old boys’ club at its most basic. They grew up in rural New England obsessed with baseball, and all three learned the game from Bill Thurston, the longtime baseball coach at Amherst College in western Massachusetts.

“As a coach, you could see they were all special,” Thurston said in a telephone interview last month during the week of the meetings in Orlando, Fla.

Cherington had just won a World Series, having rebuilt the Boston Red Sox after a disastrous season; Huntington had revived the Pittsburgh Pirates, who went to the playoffs after 20 consecutive losing seasons; and Duquette had led the Baltimore Orioles to their second straight winning season after 14 years without one. The Sporting News named Cherington executive of the year. Huntington finished second.

But it all started with Duquette, who, as a sophomore in the late 1970s, would chat with the scouts who attended Amherst games. He was a better linebacker than catcher, but he loved baseball. One summer he created and managed a semipro baseball team in his hometown, Dalton, Mass., a small mill town near the Appalachian Trail, about 40 miles west of Amherst.

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Originally published: December 2, 2013. Last Updated: December 2, 2013.