Beeston to leave decorated legacy in Toronto
TORONTO -- Paul Beeston might be stepping aside as the Blue Jays' president and CEO at the end of the season, but he will leave behind a lasting legacy that won't be forgotten in Toronto and across the entire country any time soon.
Beeston's resume and track record speak for themselves, and they have secured his deserving spot on the club's Level of Excellence. He was the first employee the club hired back in 1976, and he spent a total of 15 years as president over two tenures.
The greatest highlights of Beeston will always be associated with his first lengthy stint with the Blue Jays that included back-to-back World Series championships in 1992-93. But focusing strictly on those years ignores some of his recent accomplishments that can't be overlooked.
With veteran front-office executive Mark Shapiro set to take over for the retiring Beeston at the end of the season, here is a closer look at five key initiatives from Beeston's second tenure with the club (2008-present):
1. Modernizing the original logo
When Beeston returned on a permanent basis in 2009, one of his top priorities was bringing the organization back to its roots. From 1997-2007, the club used four logos, but it was Beeston who spearheaded the decision to go back to the original design. The Blue Jays modernized the 1977 logo that was used for 20 years with the assistance of the design services division of Major League Baseball, and the response from fans has been overwhelmingly positive.
2. Increasing payroll
Toronto's payroll went from $83 million in 2012 to approximately $120 million by the start of '13. The majority of the credit for that increase belongs to ownership group Rogers Communications, but it was Beeston who sold the board of governors on the significant financial contribution. Beeston spent the previous couple of years talking about the upside of the Toronto market and how he envisioned the club spending anywhere from $130 to $150 million on player salaries. In the end, he reached those lofty goals.
3. Natural grass at Rogers Centre
The Blue Jays still have a long way to go before natural grass can be installed in their ballpark, but a lot of the groundwork has been laid. It was under Beeston's watch that the club decided to hire the University of Guelph to research which strain of grass would be able to grow inside with enough durability for Major League Baseball. The target date is 2018, and Beeston deserves credit for getting the ball rolling on such an important issue.
4. Hiring Alex Anthopoulos
Beeston was the one who decided to take a chance on a 31-year-old Anthopoulos at the end of the 2008 season. Many presidents would have opted for experience, but instead Beeston saw something in the young assistant general manager, and he decided to give him a chance. Anthopoulos spent his first several years rebuilding the farm system before taking his shot at contending in 2013. That plan didn't quite work out, but two years later, he struck again with a series of major moves in the offseason and the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. The trust appears to have paid off as the Blue Jays are closing in on their appearance in the postseason since 1993.
5. Canada's team
The Blue Jays have always been embraced from coast to coast, but there was a time when the organization didn't fully reciprocate that love. During the 1980s, the club was famous for its winter caravan that brought players to local communities all over the country. It went dormant for almost two decades, but Beeston brought it back in 2010 with the implementation of the Winter Tour that has since become an annual tradition. Beeston also played a role in the recent exhibition games in Montreal and moving a Class A affiliate to Vancouver. If that wasn't enough, there also has been a renewed partnership with Baseball Canada as the two programs frequently work together on camps for young Canadian players.