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Two Baseball Executives with OHIO MSA Ties

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By: Jake Hirshman (MSA '17)

Derrick Hall (MSA '93), current president and CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Fred Claire, co-founder of Scoutables Inc. and former executive vice president and general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, have a lot more in common than one may think. 

In addition to similar professional careers, both men have ties to the Ohio University Master of Sports Administration program. 

In 2006, Hall was recognized as the twenty-fifth recipient of the Charles R. Higgins Distinguished Alumnus Award by the OHIO program. Claire’s ties to the program are a little different. 

“My real connection to the OHIO program comes from my relationship with one of the guiding hands of the program–Walter Frances O'Malley,” Claire said. 

Claire was born in Jamestown, Ohio and made his way to Calif., where he began working for the Dodgers in 1969.

O’Malley, often referred to as the father of the OHIO program, is credited with starting the first-ever sports administration program in Athens in 1966. 

When speaking about O’Malley, Claire said, “It was my honor to know Mr. O'Malley as a young man and to spend many days in his company. To walk into a Major League (Baseball) meeting with him, to be called into his office to meet with him, to see his approach to business matters. Mr. O'Malley made a major impact on my life from a business and personal standpoint. He was and is the greatest visionary I have ever known.” 

O’Malley’s vision was to prepare young professionals for the business world of sports, and that vision has turned into over 1,400 graduates of the OHIO program over the last 50 years. 

Claire said throughout his decades of time in the sports industry, he has encountered handfuls of Bobcats in the workforce. 

 “Graduates such as Andy Dolich, Derrick Hall and Terry Reynolds are just some of many, and there are many more,” Claire said. 

Hall credits the program for much of his success in the sports industry.  

“I believe, without a doubt, that I would not be where I am today without OHIO,” Hall said. “I have an absolute bias for the program and believe it prepares its students better than any other for the challenges and opportunities faced within the sports industry.”

Hall recognizes that there is more than one reason that the OHIO program is consistently ranked the best in the world.

“It is extremely unique, and created the niche that other schools tried to follow,” Hall said. “It has the best staff and curriculum, but above all of that, its competitive advantage is clearly in the alumni networking. Our alumni network is represented in every sport, league and level, and each of us look out for OHIO students and graduates.”

Hall spent parts of 12 seasons with the Dodgers, joining the organization's Single-A Florida State League affiliate in Vero Beach, Fla., as an intern in 1992. He departed as the club's senior vice president of communications in 2004.

After stepping away from the front office for a few years, Hall then joined the Diamondbacks in May 2005 as senior vice president of communications. He was then named president in September 2006, and added the CEO title in January 2009.

Hall dedicates his success to the fact that the program recruits similar-minded people who work hard and have a passion for sports. 

“We are all Type A personalities for the most part, but we are led by our passion and love for sports,” Hall said. “We are all determined to succeed, but willing to go about things in the proper order – get a foot in the door first, quietly prove our worth and earn trust and value, and then kick that door down for good.”

When asked about an advantage he had that led to his success, Hall said one of the biggest benefits has been his affiliation with the program. 

“I would have never been a candidate for my internship with the Dodgers without the OHIO connection,” Hall said. “Because of that entry, I was able to grow and develop as an executive in a sport and with a team that I loved.

“And I was able to reach out to fellow alums to get answers or suggestions for areas that were new or intimidating to me at the time. We all stick together and help one another out.”

Many who make their way into the baseball industry have done so through different paths, and many have played, coached or have business backgrounds.

Both Hall and Claire worked in Vero Beach, Fla., in Dodgertown, and both made their way to the top of their respective organizations by way of journalism, public relations and broadcasting. 

Hall received his bachelor’s degree in broadcasting and journalism from Arizona State University. Claire graduated from San Jose State with his bachelor’s degree in journalism. 

Prior to joining the Dodgers, Claire spent 12 years in the newspaper field as a sports editor, columnist and baseball writer. In Claire’s career with the Dodgers, he served as a publicity director; vice president of public relations, promotions and marketing; executive vice president in charge of day-to-day operations; and executive vice president and general manager in charge of player personnel. 

In 1987, Claire was named general manager of the Dodgers and after a World Series title in 1988, he was selected MLB’s “Executive of the Year” by The Sporting News. Claire became the fifth Dodger executive in the team’s history to win the award.

“My philosophy– to work as hard as you can every day at the job you are assigned to do. Don't think about wanting this job or that job–do your job,” Claire said, in regards to why he’s been successful.  

While Claire credits O’Malley as a mentor and inspiration, Claire has also impacted many lives in the sports industry, and is considered to be a mentor by many. Claire added that the most enjoyable aspect of his long career in sports was every minute of it.

“Bottom line, I loved every single minute of every single day, and I mean that,” Claire said. “It was a thrill beyond words to drive into Dodger Stadium every day for 30 years.”

Hall recently signed an eight-year extension with the Arizona Diamondbacks. When reflecting upon what he enjoys most about a career in sports, he said it was the competitive nature of the job.

“Though it can be grueling to our health and families, having our emotions and feelings tied to every win and loss is fascinating,” Hall said. “And to be able to manage 350 full-time employees and departments that any other business or corporation would inhabit, brings tremendous validation to the journey and to all of the preparation and education that led to it. In our particular sport, it is different and all consuming. Baseball does not become a part of our lives, we become a part of it!”