From the Connecticut Post – with a hat tip to WasWatching.com reader “Jerry H.” -
Brian Cashman, who readily admits that he spent most of his youth as a Yankee-hater, attributed his 10-year tenure as general manager of the New York Yankees to his loyalty to the team that gave him a chance to succeed.
“It’s all about investing in youth,” Cashman said Tuesday, addressing the overflow crowd of 500 at the 20th annual Cardinal Shehan Center Celebrity Breakfast in the ballroom of the Bridgeport Holiday Inn. “The reason I’m here today is because someone invested in me — George Steinbrenner.”
He said that he was an unlikely candidate for the Yankee GM’s office, however. “I grew up as a Yankee-hater — I was a Los Angeles Dodger fan, and I hated the Yankees because they always beat the Dodgers,” he said. While a student at the Catholic University of America in Washington, Cashman, then 19, began with the Yankees as an intern. “I did just about anything, without question — I’d run stats, I’d pick up the GM’s wife at the airport, I’d work with stadium security. Whatever they asked me to do, I would do it.”
Despite being the “low man on the totem pole” in the Yankee organization, he said that he “loved the work because it was baseball.”
He found himself getting one promotion after another. “Not surprisingly, there was a lot of turnover — the opportunities above me kept popping up.”
He said that he inherited a “great team” from Watson — and one that lost its first four games in 1998. “When we finally got that first win, Joe Torre sent me his lineup card from that night, signed by all the coaches.”
The Yankees went on to have a great season that year, piling up 125 wins and only 50 losses (114 wins and 48 losses in the regular season). “It was one of the greatest teams of all time.”
But, aside from Cashman’s five American League championships and three World Series rings, he’s had — as any Yankee fan will tell you — his share of dark days.
He said that he fully realizes that there will come a time when he’ll be asked to leave. “At some point, it will end and I’ll have to move on.”
Cashman, who lives with his family in Darien, revealed that over the years he has received generous offers from other teams. “Yes, I left more money on the table to go somewhere else,” he said, “but I never forgot that it was Steinbrenner who took a chance on me.”
He said that he strives to make moves to ensure the team’s long-term success, rather than making decisions for quick gains — something that the team had gotten away from beginning in 2003 or so, mostly because of Steinbrenner’s meddling. “The farm system has since gotten a lot better — we have to build the farm system from within, because the Yankees desperately need it.”
He said that he almost left the team in 2005, “but Steinbrenner asked me to stay.”
Oh, and, by the way, next year (2008) will be the last year of Brian Cashman’s current contract. Do you renew him now, during the season, or at year end? I think you have to make him work for it – like Rivera and Posada did this season – and make the call a year from now.