If you were with us for our 20th anniversary–and we hope you were–you’ll remember that while we picked a few influential people from our first 20 years, the bulk of that issue was spent looking inward, at Baseball America’s origins, stories we had written and events we had covered in our first 20 years.
As we now reach our silver anniversary, we thought it was important to look outward, at the people who have shaped our universe over the last 25 years. We’re not talking about the entire baseball world, but the Baseball America world–where we celebrate the game from high schools through the major leagues.
So you won’t read about the 25 most powerful people in the game over the last quarter-century in these pages. Rather, you’ll read about people who have played a significant role in shaping the game we cover at every level. Most of them are household names, but we’re betting there are at least a few you’re not familiar with. And even if you know their names, we hope we can shed more light on why they made our 25 for 25 list.
We thought it was important to recognize the people outside the walls of BA who have helped us grow and prosper for lo these many years. Newcomers to Baseball America are always amazed at how quickly anyone who works in baseball will return their call when they say they’re calling from BA. And it’s through the generosity of these scouts, coaches and executives that we’re able to bring you the best baseball information and baseball writing available anywhere.
It wasn’t always so easy. In the early days, the Blue Jays under Pat Gillick were one organization that simply refused to talk to us, except through their media-relations department. Scouts and other team officials were warned that they risked their jobs if they talked to BA.
In going through the BA archives for this issue, we found a personal appeal from founding editor Allan Simpson to Gillick in 1990, essentially asking the Blue Jays to establish diplomatic relations with BA.
“We have a cordial and ongoing relationship with the 25 other major league organizations,” Simpson wrote, “and I believe it’s time that we consider patching up our differences and opening the channels.”
Gillick dutifully replied a week later with a three-paragraph letter that included this classic line: “The paper has continued to grow in circulation and respect with minimal input from the Blue Jays, so therefore our position at this time is continue along the same path.”
We’re happy to say that not only did we continue to grow in circulation and respect from then until now, but we even get to talk to the Blue Jays. And we’ve had no problems dealing with the other organizations Gillick has led.
“We were paying for information through our scouts and other player-development people and we thought that information belonged to us,” Gillick says now of his stance with the Blue Jays. “I guess I’ve loosened up a little bit on that over the years.”
We’re glad he did, and we thank everyone else for doing the same. We’re proud to have become a marketplace of baseball ideas, and we look forward to providing a forum to discuss the issues of the day for the next 25 years and beyond.