Let’s go back to the year 2000. Alex Anthopoulos is 23 years old. He then worked for the family’s heating and ventilation company set up by his father, who had died two years earlier. One morning he opens his eyes. “Will this be my life for the next 40 years?” ”
A little over 20 years later, Montrealer is the general manager and president of baseball operations for a team preparing to participate in the World Series.
When you call Print, Anthopoulos is on his way to the airport, from where he will fly to Houston for his Braves’ first game against the Astros, which takes place on Tuesday night. He has time and likes to talk.
Alex Anthopoulos never thought, even for a second, about working in the world of sports one day. ‘All I was then was a fan. ”
That morning in 2000, he therefore made a decision. The one who wants to change his life. Finding a job that fascinates him, that makes him want to get out of bed in the morning.
“I have lived life [qui consiste à] work from 09.00 to 17.00. I had taken night classes at Vanier College to learn more about ventilation, about business. But I hated it, he says with emotion.
“At this point in my life, I realized that I could not do anything that did not give me joy,” he continues. […] I do not care how much I get paid, I just do not want to wake up in the morning without being happy to go to work. I was determined to chase dream baseball. “
Still, in life a dream is well and good, but everyone needs a first chance. This is even more true for a 23-year-old Quebecer who is trying to find his place in the big baseball world in the early 2000s. In search of an internship, he calls countless MLB teams. He is ready to do any task, on a voluntary basis if necessary.
Big Disadvantage: Since he is Canadian, he cannot get a visa to go to work in the United States. The alternatives are therefore limited.
“It is much more restrictive and difficult for a Canadian to be employed by a club in the United States. […] I literally had 2 chances out of 30 teams to make my place in the industry: Blue Jays and Expos. ”
Alex Anthopoulos finally finds this first opportunity under his nose, in Montreal. At Expos. His unpaid job: answering fan mails.
The following year, he was offered an opportunity to collaborate at a baseball school in Florida, where he learned the basics of recruiting. In 2002, he was appointed to the position of full-time recruitment coordinator.
It was so exciting, he remembers. I came home and watched draft videos, college and college games. I did not do this and thought it would help me to the next step. I did it out of love for the sport, out of passion. I never got enough. ”
“I wanted to be in the office every minute of every day.”
Every morning he gets up with a smile at the thought of going to work. Just as he had wanted when he left the family business two years earlier.
Toronto to Atlanta
At the end of the 2003 season, Alex Anthopoulos left the Expos, where he was now the assistant director of recruitment. He joins the other Canadian team, the Toronto Blue Jays, as a recruiting coordinator.
“I thought I was going to be a recruitment coordinator for 10 or 20 years, that this would be my path. I was happy, I did something I loved. I never thought of going higher. ”
At least until this day in 2006 when general manager JP Ricciardi summons him to his office to offer him the position of deputy general manager.
“At that time I said to him, ‘I’m in shock, I did not even think you took into account what I did,'” Anthopoulos said.
It was not until two or three years later that Montrealer realized for the first time in his life that he could one day become the general manager of the MLB club. “This was the only time in my entire career when the idea of one day becoming CEO really struck me,” he says.
Alex Anthopoulos spent six years, from 2009 to 2015, as general manager of the Blue Jays. He then took the leap to the United States for the first time, as vice president of baseball operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016 and 2017, before being hired as general manager of the Atlanta Braves.
Which brings us to October 23, when the Braves defeated the Dodgers in six games to advance to the World Series for the first time since 1999.
This is the first for Alex Anthopoulos in 10 years as general manager of baseball in the Major League.
At the end of the series, the 44-year-old radiates a refreshing humility. When asked how he is doing, he says “obviously, I’m happy” before turning off against Braves fans.
“Seeing the joy of the people in the Atlanta community … how happy they were. This is the most rewarding part. My neighbors on the street tell me how much happiness this team brings them.”
Anthopoulos has taken his time for the last four years. When he came with the Braves, he wanted to listen as much as possible. Gather information. Get to know the organization and the people who are part of it.
“I know it sounds easy, but I wanted to make good baseball decisions every year,” he explains. Hopefully, if I make the right decisions, the victories will come. ”
In fact, he has made many good decisions this season. And the victories have come.
Except that four are still missing.