Sox Drawer: Why Harvard didn't help Hahn

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Sox Drawer: Why Harvard didn't help Hahn

How Rick Hahn became the general manager of the Chicago White Sox is one of the most unexpected stories youll ever hear about in baseball.

Why?

Because once upon a time, Jerry Reinsdorf didnt even want to hire him.

When I walked into his office, he was facing the other way, Hahn recalls about his very first meeting with the White Sox chairman in 1996. Using some direct and mildly colorful language, he told me that I was wasting his time, I was wasting my time. Ive got all this education, and why do I want to work as a general manager? He said, Just go do something real with your life. I was able to sort of calm him down after I got over the fact that Jerry Reinsdorf is kind of cursing me out here, which is kind of weird.

Hahn, who had graduated from the University of Michigan, and then later Harvard Law School, was getting his M.B.A. from Northwestern at the time. With all of that education, it didnt take much for Hahn to get the hint. Reinsdorf didnt want him, baseball seemingly had no place for him -- a harsh dose of reality that was only strengthened by a message that Hahn received a few weeks later.

My real name is Frederick, Hahn explains. At the time, my resume at the top said Frederick. In the mail I get a handwritten letter from Jerry that says, Dear Fred.

Not a good start.

Hahn continued, reciting Reinsdorfs letter from memory:

I've thought long and hard about our meeting and I won't help you ruin your life. Please lie down before you come to your senses. After I got over the stunned element of that, I saw at the bottom he said, However, if you want to learn about scouting, my offer to let you sit with some of our scouts still stands while you hold down a real job.

Hahn recalls this letter so vividly, because its actually framed above his desk at home. It also won him 25 at Northwestern -- in a contest for the best rejection letter.

That was the first money I ever made in baseball, Hahn says laughing.

Getting the opportunity to work with scouts slightly opened the door for Hahn. However, he would need plenty of inner strength to realize his dream, because there were others who kept slamming the door shut...like Kenny Williams.

Im thinking back to the four or five times that he came to me trying to convince me to hire him, and I told him he was out of his mind, Williams said. What are you doing? You are a Harvard grad, you have a law degree. Why do you want to be in baseball? Get out of my office. Get out of my suite. I kicked him out about four times and he kept coming back. And here he is today.

Guts, moxie, persistence, drive. They dont teach that in school. You either have it or you dont. As the White Sox eventually found out, Hahn had all of it.

Plus brains.

Williams calls Hahn one of the smartest people I know, and besides Reinsdorf is simply the best negotiatior Ive ever been around.

It goes with a wicked sense of humor, which was revealed when I asked Hahn how he and Williams differ from each other.

Well, hes taller. Some would argue not quite as handsome, says Hahn, delivering the line as if he was a comedian at Second City.

Then he gets serious.

In terms of style, Williams may wear his emotions on his sleeve a little more than I do, but well see over time if I sort of develop into that.

Being a major league general manager is no picnic. Its probably the most stressful job in the sport. You control what players you put on the team, but once they take the field, its over. They control your fate. All you can do is watch helplessly from your seat.

For 12 years, this ate away at Williams.

It wears you down, Williams says. At the end of the season, admittedly I was spent.

As his assistant general manager for those same 12 years, Hahn had an up-close view of Williams misery and mood swings. Is he concerned the same thing might happen to him?

A little bit, Hahn admits. Ive had friends, guys Ive been close with, been assistant GMs move up the ladder to the GM seat, and quite frankly Ive seen some of them change a little bit. Im guessing due to the added stress and responsibility and time. Im hopefully going to be aware of that.

"Ive got at least a good support network around, my family and friends who will hopefully keep me focused and respond appropriately. Its a risk, but its part of the job, and if you cant take some risks, its hard to do great things.

Last off-season, Williams uttered a word that no baseball fan wants to hear: rebuild. Even though in reality the White Sox did nothing close to an actual teardown, the perception of that single word lingered with the franchise for months.

Hahn is no dummy. Asked if the White Sox will be in a similar situation this winter, he gave a much different answer.

No. Our intent is to win in 2013, Hahn replies. We might make some moves that solidify our chance to win in the future, that solidifies our farm system, but the goal remains to first be in position to win multiple championships, and secondly, hopefully that first one will be in 2013.

Hahn is thinking big, and why not? When he walked into Reinsdorfs office 16 years ago, he was dreaming big, too.

He could have cashed in as a lawyer or a businessman, but he would have been bankrupt on the inside. He could have taken an easier road like many of his other Harvard and Northwestern classmates, but saw a future at 35th and Shields and went after it.

Now hes the White Sox general manager, the 12th in franchise history. Who wouldve believed it?

Hahn did. All along.

Cardinals make it official: Dexter Fowler signs with Cubs' chief rival

Cardinals make it official: Dexter Fowler signs with Cubs' chief rival

Last offseason, Jason Heyward left the Cardinals to join up with the rival Cubs.

This offseason, Dexter Fowler has left the Cubs to join up with the rival Cardinals.

The Redbirds made things official Friday morning, introducing the now former Cubs outfielder and switching Fowler, fresh off a World Series win, to the other side of the Central Division rivalry.

Fowler spent each of the past two seasons with the Cubs and established himself as a remarkable catalyst at the top of the batting order. He made a surprise decision last offseason, re-upping with the Cubs during spring training after reports had him going elsewhere.

Fowler turned in a terrific 2016 campaign, reaching his first All-Star Game after posting a .290/.398/.483 slash line with seven homers, 19 doubles, three triples, six stolen bases, 28 RBIs and 41 runs scored in his first 64 games before a lengthy stay on the disabled list. He finished the regular season with a .276/.393/.447 slash line, 13 home runs, m48 RBIs and 84 runs scored for the 103-win Cubs.

Fowler picked up 18 hits — including three home runs — and scored 11 runs during the playoffs this past fall as the Cubs marched to their first World Series win in 108 years. He memorably belted a leadoff homer in Game 7 of the World Series, one of two home runs in that series against the Cleveland Indians.

Check out video of Fowler's speech at the Cubs' World Series rally last month in Grant Park:

Report: Buckeyes assistant Luke Fickell negotiating to become next head coach at Cincinnati

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Report: Buckeyes assistant Luke Fickell negotiating to become next head coach at Cincinnati

For the second straight offseason, Urban Meyer could be losing a defensive coordinator to a head-coaching job.

Last year it was Chris Ash moving from Ohio State to become the head coach at Rutgers. Now, Luke Fickell looks like he might be leaving for the head-coaching job at Cincinnati.

BearcatReport.com, a Rivals site, reported Friday that Fickell is in negotiations to become the next head coach at Cincinnati, right down the street from the place he's spent almost the entirety of his career.

ESPN's Adam Rittenberg followed up, reporting that while Fickell and Cincinnati have talked about the opening, things might not be as imminent as the first report suggested.

While Fickell — if he were to leave — would technically become a part of the Meyer coaching tree, he's been a mainstay in Columbus since before the Buckeyes' current head coach arrived.

Fickell played at Ohio State from 1992 to 1996 and got a graduate assistant job under John Cooper in 1999. After two seasons as an assistant at Akron, Fickell returned as the Buckeyes' special teams coordinator under Jim Tressel and spent the next nine seasons as a Tressel assistant. He moved from special teams coordinator to linebackers coach in 2004 and got the title of co-defensive coordinator in 2005.

After Tressel's tenure came to a tumultuous end amid what became known as "Tattoogate," Fickell assumed the one-season role of interim head coach, leading the Buckeyes to a 6-7 record before Meyer showed up. Fickell has been a defensive coordinator under Meyer for the past five seasons, helping Ohio State to a jaw-dropping 61-5 record — including a national championship in 2014 — and coaching one of the best defenses in the country over the past several seasons.

Fickell would seem like a perfect fit at Cincinnati, which has a vacancy after the departure of Tommy Tuberville, who posted just a 4-8 record this past season. Fickell is a longtime assistant who most definitely deserves his chance, bringing that one season of head-coaching experience and a knowledge of the recruiting area.

If Fickell takes the job, he wouldn't have to wait too long to go up against his former employer and new in-state foe. The Bearcats and Buckeyes play in 2019, though that comes after Cincinnati's already-scheduled game against Michigan next season.