Rob Antony, the Twins' new assistant general manager, started his Twins career handing out game notes in the Metrodome press box. Now he's helping decide whether to trade Johan Santana or sign him for, oh, $125 million.
"I told my kids the other day, 'You might have to pick up the paper one day, and your Dad's going to be getting called a dummy,"' Antony said. "I told them not to take that personally."
Better they appreciate that Dad has progressed from the Henry High mound to local media internships to the lower levels of the Twins organization to the front of the front office.
Antony recently moved from his windowless interior office, where he worked as the team's director of baseball operations, to an office overlooking the Metrodome plaza. Outgoing GM Terry Ryan is working out of his home office in Eagan, Bill Smith moved from assistant GM to GM and into Ryan's old digs, and now Antony is perhaps the most unlikely success story among local front office types, thanks to an organization that rewards and practices loyalty.
"For a lot of us, this is the only organization we've known," Antony said. "In our offices, it's almost like when you played telephone when you were a kid with your friends down the street. Terry will tell something to [administrative assistant] Jack Goins and Jack will stick his head around the corner and call me and Billy in, and we'll go in and talk things over. And now, with Billy taking over that job, nothing has really changed. This is a very down-to-earth place to work."
Dealing with the minor-league affiliates, scouts and foreign scouting means spending up to five months a year on the road. With his new duties, Antony probably will have to give up youth coaching and work even longer hours, but he reminds himself how lucky he is.
Antony remembers a day during his childhood when he flipped away from his father's favorite program to watch baseball. His father returned, shook his head, and said, "You know, some day you're going to have to get a real job -- you're not just going to be able to watch sports your whole life."
That has become one of Antony's favorite quotes. "My Dad and I laughed about that when I got this job," Antony said.
Born in 1965, the year the All-Star game was played at Met Stadium, Antony grew up in Minneapolis, attended the University of Minnesota, and was interning at KARE 11 when an intern position came open with his favorite team.
Anthony joined the Twins' public relations department as a glorified go-fer on Aug. 29, 1987, just before Kirby Puckett had his legendary six-hit day in Milwaukee. After Antony's internship ran out, he became a finalist for an assistant GM job with the Osceola (Fla.) Astros that would have paid about $11,000 a year. Tom Mee, then the Twins' PR director, told Antony to stall, saying, "We might have something for you here."
The Twins offered him a job as a public relations assistant that didn't pay a lot more.
"That was November of '88," Antony said. "That seems like a long time ago. I've seen a lot of the good times, and I've seen a lot of the rough times around here, and I don't have any idea what I'd be doing if I wasn't doing this."
Antony became head of the PR department, then director of baseball operations. Now he's moved one office away from Smith during one of the most tumultuous off-seasons in franchise history. The Twins let Torii Hunter go, could be trading Santana any day now, and will be faced with a rebuilding project while their owner is accused of cheapness.
It's up to Smith -- with help from his assistant -- to prove the team has a viable plan.
"My wife was at my son's football practice the other day and one of the other fathers told her he overheard one of my phone conversations at a previous practice," Antony said. "He said, 'Man, we all talk about that stuff -- Rob lives it.'
"I love the fact that I've gotten to spend my career doing things I'm passionate about. You know, there aren't many jobs where the boss comes by your office, sticks his head in, and orders you to turn on the ballgame."
Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon on AM-1500 KSTP. email@example.com