Thrift Survives and Thrives While O's Stocking Is Bare

By Loverro, Thom | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 25, 1999 | Go to article overview

Thrift Survives and Thrives While O's Stocking Is Bare


Loverro, Thom, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Some stocking stuffers to ponder after the presents are opened this Christmas morning:

As the 1900s come to a close, it's appropriate to honor someone who seems to have been around as long as the millennium - Syd Thrift, the ultimate survivor.

Thrift was considered a relic when he was hired by Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos as director of player development in 1995. His arrival was met with derision and skepticism by the media.

But here it is five years and three general managers - Roland Hemond, Pat Gillick and Frank Wren - later and Thrift is finally the top baseball banana, named vice president of baseball operations last week.

"This formalizes the way the organization has been operating since the end of the last baseball season," Peter Angelos said in a statement announcing Thrift's promotion.

"Nothing is really different. Syd will work with me on the baseball side, just as Joe Foss, as vice chairman and [Chief Operating Officer], does on the business and finance issues. John Angelos, as executive vice president, will provide input into both the baseball and business sides of the organization, working with Joe and Syd."

Some would say it simply formalizes the way the organization has been operating since Thrift arrived. He had a reputation as a self-promoter, and was never trusted by any of the three GMs he outlasted, often seen as an Angelos spy. But what Thrift did was simply recognize early on who owned the team - and who will own the team. He served as the baseball advisor and sounding board for the sons, John and Lou Angelos, and is now reaping the rewards of those relationships.

Now let's see if big Syd can do the job. He once wrote a book called "The Game According to Syd." With offseason acquisitions such as Mike Trombley and Buddy Groom, one has to wonder if a second volume would be called "The Game Has Passed Syd By."

* * *

More than ever, it seems like professional sports are dominated by news of police reports and court cases rather than accomplishments on the field - the Rae Carruth case, George Shinn's sexual assault trial, the Cecil Collins break-in, and on and on. …

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