Meet Tigers’ president of baseball ops: Scott Harris helped end WS drought & loves his mom

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Tigers‘ front office just got a whole lot younger.

Few people have climbed the baseball ranks as quickly as the Tigers’ new president of baseball operations, Scott Harris.

The Tigers made the move to hire Harris, 34, about a month after firing Al Avila, who served as general manager and vice president, midseason. Harris had most recently served as general manager of the San Francisco Giants.

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Learn more about the new head in the Tigers’ baseball ops:

Harris helped end an infamous drought — and he loves his ‘mommy’

Harris began as an unpaid intern in the Washington Nationals organization in 2008 — a job he only got after sending letters to all 30 MLB general managers. He went from a Cincinnati Reds baseball operations internship to a job in New York City with the commissioner’s office.

Two years later, at 25 years old, Harris was hired by the Chicago Cubs in 2012 as director of baseball operations. By the time his seven-year tenure in the Windy City was over, which included the team’s 2016 World Series championship, he had been promoted assistant general manager under then-Cubs President Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer.

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Harris has long been seen as the young guy in the room, so it didn’t help matters when Hoyer was in his office one day and his phone rang with the caller ID “mommy” on it, according to a story in The Athletic from 2018.

Here’s something his then-boss, Epstein, also told The Athletic:

“He’s really bright and a really hard worker,” Epstein said. “He has a strong, well-rounded executive background. But you wouldn’t know by hanging around him. He’s not one of these guys telling you where he got his degree, that he went to business school, that he worked in the commissioner’s office, that he knows the rules better than you. He’s really easy to get along with, people like being around him and he just makes the group better by being a great team player. That’s super important. And it goes a long way.

“Especially if you’re going to move fast at a young age. People can be jealous of that and look for ways for you to piss them off. But it’s hard to find a way for Scott Harris to piss anyone off.”

Leaving home for Motown

Harris is viewed as a do-it-all guy in the front office, as he dabbled in everything in Chicago from player acquisitions and contract and trade negotiations to player evaluations and overseeing the research and development department.

Thought to be one of the game’s brightest rising stars, Harris was named the ninth GM in San Francisco Giants history after the end of the 2019 season. Harris in his three seasons led the Giants to the fourth-best winning percentage in the National League (.557) and eighth-best in baseball.

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He has ties to both of his previous stops as well.

Harris was born and raised in Redwood City, California and attended Giants games at Candlestick Park as a kid. After graduating from UCLA in 2009 (where he played on the club lacrosse team) with a bachelor’s degree in economics, Harris attended Columbia Business School while simultaneously working for Major League Baseball.

Midway through his MBA at Columbia, he transferred to Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management to complete his degree in 2015. He didn’t have much of a choice; his mom wanted him to finish school but Epstein hired him to a key role with the Cubs, which also happened to be the team he rooted for as a child thanks to his father, Rob, a Highland Park, Illinois native.

So how did he obtain an MBA from one of the top business schools in the nation while holding one of the most important jobs in the Cubs organization? Weekend classes.

“He would take a 1 a.m. flight from Phoenix and it would arrive in Chicago around 5 a.m. and he would sleep on an airport bench waiting for class,” his mother, Joanne, told the RedBluff Daily News.

Last year, Harris spoke to the Mets about their president of baseball operations job, but reportedly “declined to be a candidate,” according to The Athletic and The New York Post.

He was seen as one of the hottest commodities in baseball after helping Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi put together a 107-win baseball team, the most in a single season in San Francisco history.

From one player’s fan to his boss

Harris has one brother, Chris, and one sister, K.C. Chris’ favorite player growing up was Will Clark. What’s Clark doing these days? He’s an assistant to the GM in San Francisco.

In other words, Harris became his boss.

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“(It’s) just nuts,” Chris told RedBluff Daily News. “I’ve always told Scott, I need to meet Will Clark. That’s one of my dreams.”

Avila served in different capacities with the Tigers since 2002. Harris doesn’t seem to have any connections to the Tigers or current manager A.J. Hinch.

But that doesn’t seem like a problem for the Tigers.

“I’m really excited to have Scott Harris join us,” Hinch said. “In getting to know him over the last few weeks, what he wants for the future of our team and organization is really inspiring and is something I know our fans will embrace as much as I do. His vision and expectation of winning makes it easy to want to work tirelessly for him.

“We have a lot of work to do and today is a great step in the right direction on that path.”

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