Smith's move to top a long time coming

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 13, 2007 - 11:41 PM

Bill Smith’s decision to attend the 1979 winter meetings started him down a lifelong career in baseball. That career reached its peak when he was named to take over as GM for a team he has been with for 22 years.

When Terry Ryan stepped down as Twins general manager Thursday, he answered questions about his successor as if he were delivering one more scouting report.

Ryan described Bill Smith as a perfect GM candidate whose talents have gone somewhat unnoticed nationally.

"Bill was ready [to become a GM] 10 years ago," Ryan said. "There isn't a thing he hasn't done. ... If some of these owners had come in and talked to Bill, he'd have blown them away."

Baltimore Orioles President Andy MacPhail, who was Twins GM when they hired Smith in 1986, called Smith "an extraordinary talent" and "one of those under-the-radar executives" who help make successful teams thrive.

"He's one of the people I admire the most in this sport," MacPhail said.

Smith, 49, grew up in North Hampton, N.H., and played two years of NCAA Division III baseball at Hamilton College in New York, where he majored in French. In 1979, he began chasing a dream and turned into a baseball lifer.

Now, after 22 years with the Twins, including the past 13 as assistant GM, Smith has moved out of Ryan's shadow and into a job he never lobbied to have.

"I think every person who gets into baseball aspires to be a general manager," Smith said. "But over the years, I loved my job. I loved working for Terry. ... It wasn't that I didn't aspire to it, it was just never to the point that I had any interest in leaving this organization."

Smith has a different background than Ryan's, with more administrative skills than scouting skills. But those who know them both suspect the Twins will go through this transition and come out largely the same as they've been since the MacPhail era.

"The biggest difference is I've got a full head of hair and about 80 more pounds [than Ryan]," Smith said. "But there are huge shoes to fill. The best news is, he's not far away when I need help."

• • •

MacPhail loves the story about how Smith landed his job with the Twins.

After taking over as GM, MacPhail had Jim Rantz as minor league director and Ryan as a scouting director, and he wanted someone who could work closely with both departments.

Smith was the GM of the Appleton (Wis.) Foxes, a Class A affiliate for the Chicago White Sox.

Smith placed a call one morning to Rantz, who explained that the hire had to be made within a week. The problem was, most of the Twins' days were booked.

"How about this afternoon?" Smith said.

When Rantz told him it was a nearly 300-mile drive from Appleton to Minneapolis, Smith said, "I think I can be there in six hours."

He hopped in the car with his wife, Becky, and interviewed that afternoon.

  • related content

  • Audio: Q&A with Terry Ryan

    Thursday September 13, 2007

    Minnesota Twins outgoing General Manager Terry Ryan told reporters Thursday afternoon that despite stepping down...

  • Twins: Ryan steps down, Smith will take over

    Thursday September 13, 2007

    Bill Smith, Terry Ryan's right-hand man, will take the GM job in a massive reshuffling of Twins management.

  • Jim Souhan: Twins don't survive without proper touch

    Friday September 14, 2007

    Terry Ryan became a master at what he did, and because of that baseball still matters in Minnesota.

  • Patrick Reusse: As with TK, Ryan has no hidden agenda

    Friday September 14, 2007

    Terry Ryan did as his manager did six years earlier — walk away when he got worn out by the grind. Now it will be up to new GM Bill...

  • Sid Hartman: Months ago, Ryan told team of his plan

    Friday September 14, 2007

    Jim Pohlad said upcoming contract issues didn’t factor in Terry Ryan’s decision — and that the Twins will make every effort to keep their stars.

  • Ryan's run: the good, the bad, the deals

    Thursday September 13, 2007

    Terry Ryan became Twins GM on Sept. 13, 1994. He resigned Thursday, 13 years to the day he took over....

  • Survivors

    Thursday September 13, 2007

    When Terry Ryan (above) resigned as Twins general manager Thursday, he was the second-longest-tenured GM in the majors. Here's a...

  • Series preview: Twins vs. Detroit

    Thursday September 13, 2007

    THREE GAMES AT THE METRODOMETonight, 7:10 p.m., FSN, 1500-AMRHP Matt Garza (3-5, 3.71 ERA) vs. LHP Nate Robertson (7-11, 5.04)Saturday,...

  • TOUGH JOB AHEAD Bill Smith steps into the Twins GM job at a critical juncture. Here are the major issues facing him: 1 The free-agent status of Torii Hunter (shown right) and Carlos Silva. 2 The need to fill holes at third base and DH and, if Hunter leaves, center field. 3 Johan Santana's future -- his contract expires after the 2008 season. 4 Ditto for closer Joe Nathan, whose contract also expires after 2008. 5 Big picture: Operating an organization known for careful spending in an era of exorbitant spending. THE TWINS GMS Bill Smith will become only the fifth general manager in Twins history. The list: • Calvin Griffith, 1961-1984 • Howard Fox, 1984-1985 • Andy MacPhail, 1985-1994 • Terry Ryan, 1994-2007 • Bill Smith, 2007-
  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Baltimore - LP: W. Chen 1 FINAL
Boston - WP: J. Masterson 7
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta 5 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: A. Caminero 2
NY Yankees - LP: C. Sabathia 1 FINAL
Detroit - WP: A. Simon 2
Cincinnati - WP: A. DeSclafani 6 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 1
Cleveland - LP: C. Allen 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: D. Robertson 4
Minnesota - LP: K. Gibson 1 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: E. Volquez 7
San Diego - WP: O. Despaigne 14 FINAL
Colorado - LP: J. De La Rosa 3
Oakland - WP: D. Otero 6 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: M. Shoemaker 3
Houston - WP: T. Sipp 7 FINAL
Seattle - LP: D. Farquhar 5
Milwaukee 82 FINAL
Chicago 91
New Orleans 87 FINAL
Golden State 97
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
St. Louis 0 FINAL
Minnesota 3
Anaheim 5 FINAL(OT)
Winnipeg 4
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: What are your plans for the Twins' home opener?

Weekly Question