After graduating from Harvard Law in 1976, Seattle-born Sandy Alderson began work for the firm of Farella Braun & Martel in San Francisco. Five years later, one of the firm’s partners, Roy Eisenhardt, left to become president of the Oakland Athletics, after his father-in-law, Walter A. Haas Jr., bought the team.
Eisenhardt brought Alderson along as the team’s general counsel, and in 1983, named the 36-year old the team’s general manager. In the years since, Alderson has presided over four American League pennant winners, one National League champion and a world championship roster. On Tuesday, the A’s announced that Alderson was coming home.
After a bout with cancer and a tumultuous eight-year stint as general manager of the New York Mets, Alderson on Tuesday was named the A’s Senior Advisor to Baseball Operations, returning to the organization which gave him his start.
“I am thrilled to welcome Sandy as a Senior Advisor to Baseball Operations,” said Executive Vice President of baseball operations Billy Beane. “His mentorship and friendship have been invaluable to me over the course of my career, and I look forward to the expertise and perspective he will add at every level of the organization. David [Forst] and I couldn’t be more excited to bring him back to Oakland.”
Alderson spent 17 years with the organization, under both Haas (who passed in 1995) and the ownership group headed by Stephen Schott and Ken Hofmann, who ordered Alderson to slash payroll. Alderson, in turn, began focusing on sabermetric principles in order to obtain relatively undervalued players, a strategy eventually championed and mastered by his mentor and eventual replacement, Beane.
During his time with the A’s, Alderson presided over a minor league system which produced Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Walt Weiss, and built a roster that won four division titles, three pennants and the 1989 World Series.
Alderson ceded general manager duties to Beane through the 1997 season, serving as president from 1993-95 and 1997-98. He then left to work for the commissioner’s office, where he was EVP of baseball operations from September 1998 to 2005.
He was then named the San Diego Padres Chief Executive Officer from 2005-09, winning back-to-back NL West titles in 2005 and 2006, and lectured at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business.
In 2010, Alderson began working as the special consultant to Baseball’s Commissioner for Latin America, addressing issues of corruption in the Dominican Republic. He then was hired by the New York Mets after the 2010 season to replace Omar Minaya as general manager under owner Fred Wilpon.
Due to Wilpon’s involvement with the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, Alderson again worked with limited funds. He hired former Beane associates Paul DePodesta and J.P. Ricciardi to help work with the limitations, and after signing third baseman David Wright in December of 2012, got the Mets payroll under $100 million and acquired the foundation of New York’s first NL pennant since 2000. Under Alderson’s watch, the Mets acquired Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard and Travis ‘Arnaud, and developed Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz. The same year the Mets reached the World Series, 2015, Alderson fell ill with cancer, and underwent chemotherapy during the offseason.
Alderson, 71, took a leave of absence from the Mets in July of 2018 due to cancer, and decided not to return to the position, citing his uncertain health and the club’s recent performance.
Alderson was recently honored at the New York Baseball Writers’ Association dinner, when he revealed that he’d been cancer free for four months, following chemo and his third surgery.
“I am really excited to return to the A’s and the Bay Area,” Alderson said in a statement. “I look forward to being as helpful as I can to Billy, David, and the rest of the Baseball Operations staff.”
Alderson received his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth and his Juris Doctor from Harvard. He served as a Marine Infantry Officer for four years with a tour of duty in Vietnam. He and his wife, Linda, have two children and five grandchildren.