By John Perrotto
December 4, 2001
After a long wait, the Pittsburgh Pirates got their man.
The Pirates hired Brian Graham, who spent this past season as Florida’s minor-league field coordinator, as player development director on Monday. He replaces Paul Tinnell, who did not have his contract renewed at the end of this past season.
Thus, ended a long courtship for Pirates General Manager Dave Littlefield.
Littlefield, who was Florida’s assistant GM until coming to the Pirates in July, had wanted to interview Graham ever since deciding not to bring Tinnell back. However, the Marlins balked for nearly two months before granting permission to interview Graham.
“We feel Brian Graham in the ideal person to oversee our farm department,” Littlefield said. “He has a lot of experience in player development and spent a long time with Cleveland, one of the very best organizations in baseball and one with an outstanding farm system.”
Graham, 41, has an extensive instructing background. Before going to Florida, he spent the 2000 season on Baltimore’s major-league coaching staff and was Cleveland’s first base coach in 1999.
Graham starred as an infielder at UCLA then spent five seasons in the minor leagues with the Oakland, Milwaukee, Detroit and Cleveland organizations without making the majors.
Graham spent nine seasons managing in the Cleveland farm system from 1989-97 and compiled an outstanding 704-491 record for a .589 winning percentage. He led teams to the playoffs eight times and won two league titles.
Graham then became the Indians defensive coordinator in 1998 before moving to the major leagues.
“This is a great opportunity to build something, take it from the ground up,” Graham said. “During the years I spent in the minor leagues, I always had an interest in someday running a farm department. I’m looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s my understanding the Pirates have talent in the lower levels of the farm system, particularly a lot of good arms. What we must do is provide the proper instruction to the players and make sure we get all of the talent out of them.”