In 1978 he became the first Ivy Leaguer to pitch in the World Series in nearly four decades. Dartmouth graduate Jim Beattie has been blazing trails since as a baseball executive.
Former major league pitcher Jim Beattie learned about Dartmouth via a computer. Growing up in South Portland, Maine "my ninth-grade biology teacher got me into computers," he remembers. "At the high school they had one of those old teletype terminals connected to a computer at Dartmouth. I didn't know where Dartmouth was."
By his senior year Beattie, a basketball All-American, was recruited by such schools as Indiana and Notre Dame. One weekend "a classmate, Rick Berryman (who later ran track for Dartmouth and has served as the official timer at Heps for years), was visiting Dartmouth" and Beattie, remembering his computer days, tagged along. "I loved the place," he says, and chose Dartmouth over Bowdoin.
At Dartmouth Beattie walked-on to the basketball and baseball teams. Baseball was coached by the legendary Tony Lupien, a Harvard graduate who, after a six-year major league career in the 1940s, followed with a Dartmouth coaching career that would see him win four EIBL (the Ivy teams plus Army and Navy comprised the Eastern Intercollegiate Baseball League until 1993) titles and take Dartmouth to its only College World Series appearance, in 1970. "Tony was old school, very conservative," says Beattie. "He used wood bats [after aluminum became prevalent], and we were the only ones still wearing wool uniforms," he remembers. "I showed up with my hair a little long and he told me to get it cut."
Lupien set him on the path to the major leagues. "He prepared me to be a professional," Beattie says. "He pitched me as regularly as he could," and "helped me get into the Cape Cod League (a summer showcase for top college players), where I got noticed by scouts." After a junior season that saw him named first team All-Ivy, Beattie was chosen in the fourth round of the 1975 draft by the New York Yankees. He signed for $25,000, with which "I paid my college loans and bought a Dodge van."
After his first minor league season Beattie returned and completed his degree in visual studies in the fall of 1975. "The art department bent over backwards to help me graduate by designing an independent study course," he says. Ivy rules precluded him from playing basketball because he was a professional, however. "I was elected captain for my senior year," he says. Not playing was "my biggest regret."
In 1978 Beattie became a New York Yankee, the first Dartmouth Yankee since Red Rolfe in 1942. It was a propitious season. Fourteen-and-a-half games behind the Red Sox on July 14, the Yankees would tie the Red Sox at the end of the season, then capture the American League East Division in a one game playoff. "On a Thursday, I pitched the first game of the 'Boston Massacre,' (a famous September Yankees sweep of the Red Sox at Fenway Park), then left to get married on Sunday in Syracuse."
"I pitched the first [playoff] game at Kansas City and won," he recalls. That set the stage for his next start - Game 5 of the World Series. Beattie would become the first Ivy Leaguer to pitch in the World Series since Brown's Irving "Bump" Hadley won Game 3 of the 1939 World Series, also for the Yankees.
"I came out of the bullpen pretty loose," he remembers, "even though I didn't feel like I had good command." He didn't need it as the Yankees cruised to a 12-2 win. It was Beattie's first complete major league game.
Beattie also admits to taking his first World Series experience for granted. "I thought I'd be here every year," he says, "but I started the next season in the minors." Traded to the Seattle Mariners after the 1979 season Beattie never again reached the postseason, retiring in 1986 with a 52-87 record over nine seasons.
Starting on an MBA at Boston's Northeastern University while with the Yankees, Beattie finally earned the degree at the University of Washington. When he left baseball "I could've stayed on as a minor league pitching coach" he says, but with small children at home, didn't want to travel as much. With the MBA he started looking at front office positions. The Mariners hired him as "farm director," administering their minor league team system. "I thought I'd try it for four or five years to see if I enjoyed it," he says.
It became a second career. He became general manager of the Montreal Expos in 1995. "They had a great reputation for developing players, and were still a pretty good club when I got there," Beattie says. This is an understatement. The Expos had some incredible players in the late 1980s - early 1990's, including probable future Hall of Famers Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Vladimir Guerrero.
Conditions soon changed. "The Expos’ mission statement became 'don't lose money and be competitive,'" Beattie says. "We couldn't keep major league talent. In four years our payroll went from $12 million to $15 million, while other teams' [payrolls] doubled and tripled." There was also a change in the Quebec political climate. "There was an air of unfriendliness towards Anglophones" he remembers, "a lot of companies left Montreal." When "my work visa couldn't get extended after six years" and a switch to Canadian residency or citizenship required that his children attend French language-based schools, he left the Expos.
His next stop was with the Orioles, with an unusual proviso. Beattie would share general manager duties with ex-Orioles pitcher and broadcaster Mike Flanagan. "I was hired to be Mike Flanagan's mentor," he recalls. "Neither man will have the final word with the Orioles," described a New York Times article. "The idea is to gather information, discuss the situation and work to arrive at a decision." Beattie completed the three-year contract and when it was up, the club stayed with Flanagan. "I was not the favored son there," Beattie says tersely.
He's interviewed for open general manager positions with the Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds, and would "possibly go back if something came up."
Dartmouth's currently occupying a considerable slice of his attention. His wife, Martha Johnson Beattie, ’76, rowed for Dartmouth and is a member of its inaugural women's class. They just finished serving as 30th Reunion Chairs for the Dartmouth College Fund, and Martha is currently President of the Alumni Council. In addition two of their children, Sam and Nell, are Dartmouth students at this time.
For Beattie, the lifelong association with Dartmouth stems from a simple fact. "Dartmouth was a life-changing experience," he says.
— Stephen Eschenbach