Former Expos GM Beattie scours FLA for Jays

by on March 24, 2013

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* Jays scout Jim BeattieGM of the Montreal Expos when Alex Anthopoulos was hired, is scouring south Florida looking for possible help. ….

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By Danny Gallagher

FORT MYERS, Fla. — With an oversized hat covering his pale skin and red hair, Jim Beattie reached over the railing to accept hugs from Red Sox icon David Ortiz and retired Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

As this conversation grew beyond third base near the left-field line a few hours before game time, former Montreal Expos do-gooder scout Dave Jauss, now a Pittsburgh Pirates coach, sneaked in to shake Beattie’s hand.

In a life of baseball, Beattie has many friends in the game. He pitched for the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners, later becoming general manager of the Expos and Baltimore Orioles. Enjoying his role as a major-league scout for the Blue Jays, Beattie admits the GM’s post requires a “lot of energy’’ and says he has no interest in being a GM again.

At least for now. You never know. He’s too young to say no.

Beattie, 58, has been keeping tabs on other major-league teams at spring training and did a lot of scouting of World Baseball Classic games in Puerto Rico, Miami and other venues. His specialty is recommending possible trades to Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos.

“This is my fourth year with the Blue Jays and I love it,’’ Beattie said. “We have 22 pro scouts, way more than a lot of teams. When I was with the Expos and Orioles, we had no more than six or eight pro scouts.

“I give Alex coverage reports on players.”

Ironically, it was Beattie, who helped lift Anthopoulos on the road to big leagues.

It’s a funny story.

One day, Anthopoulos called the Expos office and got put through to Beattie’s executive assistant Marcia Schnaar. But she had stepped away from her desk and Beattie answered.

“Sometimes, I answered my own calls,’’ Beattie said.

”Jim Beattie here, can I help you?’’ he would say.

Flustered, Anthopoulos hung up the phone, not believing Beattie was actually answering the phone.

“Ten minutes later, Alex called again and he finally talked and I told him to come to Olympic Stadium,” said Beattie. “In those days, you didn’t have a lot of people from Montreal wanting a job in baseball.

“When he came in, I never did talk to him but he talked to other people like P.J. Loyello and was hired. He was kind of like a gopher when he was first hired.’’

And now Beattie reports to Anthopoulos.

Looking back at his Expos’ reign as GM from 1995-2001, Beattie loved what he was doing but he became frustrated after a number of years because of the uncertainty of the franchise’s future, who was going to buy the team, where it might be moved, the prospect of no new stadium, etc.

Beattie had replaced Kevin Malone, who resigned after the 1995 season because he didn’t want to work with an organization that was conducting fire sales or working with low payrolls.

“After six years, I did resign,’’ Beattie said.  “With the team about to be sold or moved, there was no inertia. There was no light at the end of the tunnel.’’

Beattie, who was forced to trade Expos great Pedro Martinez after the 1997 season because the player didn’t want a long-term contract, says that if the Expos had been able to acquire a new stadium it would have meant wonders for the franchise and the city, likening it to the situation in Seattle, which he has called home for 16 years. He was a Mariner for six seasons and was the team’s player development director from 1990-95.

“Seattle’s new stadium opened up in 1995 after the Kingdome and everyone got excited,’’ Beattie said. “The place was electric.’’

Beattie sees a lot of light at the end of the tunnel with the Jays. Like a lot of people, he’s excited to be in the mix of an organization that on paper at least is a bona fide contender for a playoff spot this season.

“We have a chance to do some good things this season,’’ Beattie said. “I’m glad to be part of it all. We hope to see attendance up between two and three million. I remember back in the early 1990s when I was with Seattle and the Blue Jays were getting four million each season.

“We used to laugh and say that all the Jays had to do was open envelopes with more money from people wanting tickets. It was not true. We were joking but they sure had great attendance back then.’’

 

 

 

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