New Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski knew back in college that he wanted to work in the front office of a baseball organization.
Dombrowski grew up in Illinois and he attended Richards High School in Oak Lawn. Upon graduation, he enrolled at Cornell, where he played first base on the baseball team and defensive tackle on the football team as a freshman. He later transferred to Western Michigan University and graduated in 1979 with a degree in business administration.
In his senior year at Western Michigan, he wrote a 63-page report, “The General Manager, The Man in the Middle,” in which he discussed the changing role of the general manager in baseball. In doing research for his paper, he conducted 22 interviews and sent questionnaires to dozens of baseball executives.
One of the people he interviewed was White Sox adviser Roland Hemond, who would help Dombrowski land his first job in baseball.
“At the end of our conversation, he said he had aspirations of running a ballclub,” Hemond recalled in 2006 for a Chicago Tribune article. “I told him if that was the case, he should take some finance courses. And he did.
“I also said it would be a good idea to attend the [winter meetings] some time in the future and meet some baseball people.”
The winter meetings were in Hawaii that year, and Dombrowski scraped together $1,500 for a plane ticket. His persistence impressed Hemond, who invited him to the White Sox Comiskey Park offices. He would land a job as an administrative assistant, with a salary of $7,000.
A 2014 profile in the magazine, “Hour Detroit” also reports that Dombrowski does in fact have a life away from baseball.
“Dombrowski likes movies. He loves Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream and, of course, any such indulgence will be incinerated during the next day’s 35-minute jog.”
He met his wife, Karie, in 1992 when he was general manager for the Florida Marlins and she was a reporter in Miami. They were married in Oklahoma City in 1995 and have a daughter, Darbi, 17, and a son, Landon, 15.
Before marrying Dombrowski, she was known as Karie Ross and became ESPN’s third female on-air talent when she was hired in 1987. ESPN was known as a boys club back then, and in 1989, she spoke out against the sexual harassment that many of the female workers had to endure.
Jenni Carlson, writing a profile of Karie Dombrowski for The Daily Oklahoman in 2004, wrote about one particular incident at an ESPN staff meeting in 1989.
“She talked about editing time being traded for sex, about men groping and grabbing female employees, about women constantly coming to her with terror in their eyes.
“’I’m tired of women coming up to me upset because they can’t do their jobs without some jerk trying to sleep with them,’” she told co-workers stunned not by the accusations but by them being addressed publicly.
A few months later, her contract was not renewed.”
He knows how to handle the media
Dave Dombrowski is polite and courteous, but perhaps not very forthcoming, according to “Hour Detroit”.
“Media hoping for an off-the-record nugget might as well call CIA headquarters. At some point, a CIA operative might talk. Dombrowski doesn’t. Not to anyone. Bob Costas on the phone? Peter Gammons? Forget it. They’ll get what the local press gets, which is nothing.
Ah, but the code of conduct has its flip side. He always returns phone calls. Always, and on the same day a message is left. He might not say anything newsworthy or enlightening. But he’ll call back. He’ll be courteous.”
Highly regarded in baseball
When former commissioner Bud Selig announced he would be retiring, Dombrowski’s name was mentioned as a possible replacement.
In June of 2013, he was named Chair of the MLB Diversity Oversight Committee by Selig.
MLB Senior VP/PR Pat Courtney said that Selig “had Dombrowski’s experience and resume in mind” when making the appointment.
“Dave has on-the-ground experience in all of these areas. And he has great interest in this area,” Courtney added. “He has talked with Bud about this, and the commissioner thought, based on their conversations over the years, that Dave not only would want to be a part of an effort such as this, but that he had earned the right to be one of the chairmen.”
Said Dombrowski at the time of the appointment: “We’ve got a lot of quality people and ideas, but we need a comprehensive plan for how we can increase participation among African-Americans on and off the field.”Follow Andrew Mahoney on Twitter @GlobeMahoney