Is there anyone on the planet a Chicago Cubs fan would rather have speak at their college commencement ceremony than Theo Epstein?
Theo Epstein (Class of ’95) will be this year’s Class Day speaker on Sunday, May 21, during Commencement weekend, according to Yale News. The 43-year-old Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations is the former sports reporter and editor of the Yale Daily News.
"“Epstein’s story is not only a story about baseball. It is a story of what is possible when you dream.”"
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One thing is apparently clear about Epstein’s managerial philosophy: success doesn’t come to those who wait.
Epstein wrote letters to MLB teams while attending Yale, expressing interest in working for them after graduation. Word of his initiative reached the desk of Baltimore Orioles Executive Calvin Hill, who hired Epstein to work in public relations.
Who said you have to work in your degree field?
From there, Epstein’s career skyrocketed. He earned his Jurors Doctorate at University of San Diego Law School while working in the Padres’ player development department. From there, he worked his way up to Director of Baseball Operations before taking the general manager job in Boston.
A Champion at Heart
While in Boston in 2004, Epstein simultaneously ended an 86-year title drought, and became the youngest GM to win a World Series. Not many 30-year-old can put that on their resume. Boston’s 2007 title solidified Epstein’s winning reputation, and propelled him to the Chicago Cubs’ front office.
The Cubs’ 2016 World Series championship will be talked about for decades to come, and rightfully so. 108 years is a long time to wait. But, Mike Montgomery‘s final pitch, Kris Bryant‘s slip on the last throw or even Ben Zobrist‘s go-ahead extra-inning hit wouldn’t have happened without Epstein and his team.
A Decorated Career
Epstein has won some of the most prestigious awards for baseball executives.
In 2008, Baseball America awarded him the Executive of the Year award. The following year, Epstein earned the Executive of the Decade Award (2000-2009) and Sports Illustrated named him Best General Manager of the Decade.
Sports Illustrated ranked him third on their Top 10 baseball General Managers List. Epstein earned Executive of the Year honors again in 2016 after the Cubs took home the Commissioner’s Trophy.
Surely, giving the commencement address at his Alma Mater is just a maraschino cherry to Theo at this point.
When Chicago rewarded Epstein with a five-year, $50 million contract extension, they ensured his stay on the North Side will last a decade, at minimum.