It’s been a wild, tumultuous journey, but two decades after he first began working in baseball as an unpaid intern for the Montreal Expos, Alex Anthopoulos is a World Series champion.
His Atlanta Braves closed out their title-clinching run Tuesday night, with Anthopoulos’s fingerprints all over the roster that brought a title to Georgia for the first time in 26 years.
But just as the World Series win was a long-awaited milestone for his club, it was a key pinnacle for Anthopoulos too, after a career that’s run the gamut from sorting players’ mail to earning Executive of the Year honours.
“There's no doubt it's been an incredibly long journey,” Anthopoulos told Jeff Blair and Kevin Barker on Sportsnet 590 Wednesday. “I was 23 when I started. I had had a little bit of a taste of a 'real job' working at my dad's heating and ventilation company. He was an engineer, he went to McGill in Montreal. I didn't do any of those things. He enjoyed it and I hated it. I tried it for two years — I took night classes and I tried to make myself enjoy it, and it wasn't my thing. And then once I'd gotten a taste of going to work every day and not liking what you do, I was so determined just to find something that I loved.
"And obviously, working in baseball was tops for me.”
Anthopoulos’s first shot came in 2000 with the Expos, a role that began in the mailroom but eventually took him into the scouting world.
“At the time, I didn't really care what the job was going to be, I just wanted to work in baseball and do something that I enjoyed,” he told Blair and Barker. “And now I look back with a family and kids, I'm like, man, I don't know that I could ever go back and do something like that again, you know? Because it was an incredible grind. I went down to Florida and worked for a year and a half. I had to use a lot of my own dollars and savings. And I got to tell you, I loved every minute because I kept learning.
“I remember when I finally got my first full-time job with the Montreal Expos as scouting coordinator, I wanted to be in that office every day. I remember calling the scouting bureau and having them send me VHS tapes of drafts and things like that. I think maybe when I'm way older, I'll look back at it. ... But you know, when you do something you really enjoy, you don't really have time to look back.”
That run with the Expos took Anthopoulos to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2003, the Montreal native eventually rising from the Jays' scouting coordinator to general manager, building one of the club’s most memorable rosters in recent memory in 2015 — one that earned him that Executive of the Year nod.
Each of those stops along the way were key steps in that larger journey, said Anthopoulos, who added that he believes his former club seems to be on a similar path to greatness.
“If I hadn't left Toronto, I wouldn't have gone to L.A., I wouldn't be in Atlanta, I wouldn't have won a World Series,” he told Blair and Barker. “Toronto's in an unbelievable spot right now — they're really well-run, they're an exciting team, I think they're going to be good for a long time.
"I think they absolutely could have gone and won the World Series too.”
Listen to Alex Anthopoulos's full interview with Jeff Blair and Kevin Barker via the audio clip embedded in this post, as the trio discusses Atlanta's run to World Series glory, the key moves made along the way, and his memories of his years in Toronto