Women In Baseball: Cheryl Evans Hasn't Lost Her Drive After 50 Years
It started with a job posting.
Cheryl Evans was attending Palm Beach Community College in Lake Worth, Fla., working in a support role for the Dean of Women. One of her responsibilities was to collect all of the job listings submitted from the community, post them to a board on campus and keep them updated.
In 1969, a particular job posting caught her attention. The Montreal Expos had purchased the West Palm Beach Expos franchise for one dollar and were in need of administrative help. Evans got the job.
“Our office was in the old stadium in West Palm, and we shared an office with the Atlanta Braves,” Evans said. “I met so many people through those relationships, one of them being John McHale Sr.”
After getting married, Evans was ready to explore opportunities with more financial compensation. Her $50 a week paycheck was beginning to lose its appeal, so in 1975 she left the Expos organization.
In 1985, Evans crossed paths with McHale at a local function. He had just been named spring training coordinator for the Expos at the West Palm Beach site and insisted on Evans returning to his staff.
“I said, ‘Oh, no. I can’t afford to work in baseball anymore,’ “ Evans said. “He said, ‘No, no. You’ve got to come.’ ”
Evans couldn’t stay away.
Evans’ return introduced her to Expos scouting director Gary Hughes, who recognized Evans’ talent and invited her to join the scouting office.
“He said, “We need you to do this,” Evans remembered. “I said, ‘Well, we need to talk about money because right now, that’s what’s motivating me. I’ve got high bills,’ ” she said.
“Dealing with the world of scouts was a whole eye-opening thing.”
When the National League expanded to 14 teams for the 1993 season, the Florida Marlins were born. The organization appointed Dave Dombrowski as its first general manager in September 1991, hiring him away from the Expos. With the move, Dombrowski made the call to Hughes to join the new expansion team.
A call to Evans wasn’t far behind.
“(Dombrowski) always included me,” Evans said. “He knew me well enough that he would say, ‘Well, I want to know what you think about this.’ And I would say, ‘You sure you want to know what I think? Because if you ask me, I’m going to tell you,’ ” Evans laughed.
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Following her husband’s retirement, Evans made the decision to retire from the Marlins. With the transition, she began looking for a new home.
“We were looking for some place to move in Florida and we landed on Lakeland. It’s so quiet here, and we’re not high-maintenance people.”
Then, the phone rang.
David Chadd had joined the Tigers from the Red Sox, and Evans had a history with Chadd with the Marlins. In addition, during Evans’ tenure with the Marlins, current Tigers GM Al Avila was fresh out of St. Thomas University as the Marlins’ assistant director of Latin American operations.
“(Avila and I) hit it off,” Evans said. “We laugh to this day about going to Pizza Hut for lunch.”
Remembering Evans’ reputation, Chadd did his best to lure Evans from retirement, and in 2005 she joined the Tigers organization. Dombrowski had been GM of the club since 2002 and would remain in that role until August 2015, when Avila succeeded him.
Fast forward to 2021 and 71-year-old Evans is serving as the Tigers’ director of minor league and scouting administration. She provides a thorough explanation of contracts to new draft picks—she is pictured above with 2006 first-rounder Andrew Miller—and educates current players on payroll protocols.
“I’ve been fortunate to see a lot of different sides of baseball,” Evans said. “It all goes back to doing what’s right by people.
“Until I walk in the door and go, ‘Ugh! No way!’ I’m going to keep going as long as they’ll have me.”