Jan 9, 2023
In 2014, Major League Baseball's Official Historian John Thorn and veteran baseball journalist Alan Schwarz published an authoritative and thought-provoking list of "Baseball’s 100 Most Important People" - including more than its fair share of surprisingly influential figures.
Nestled between National Baseball Hall of Famers "Hammerin'" Hank Greenberg and "King" Kelly at number 79 on that list is this week's guest:
"More than anyone, Miles Wolff is responsible for the modern renaissance of minor-league baseball, as it emerged from the lean years of the 1960s and ’70s to the boom of the 1980s and ’90s. Wolff bought the Carolina League’s Durham Bulls for just $2,666 in 1979, nurtured it into a local success, and owned the franchise as it became a national symbol of the minor leagues after the release of the film "Bull Durham" in 1988. He sold the team in 1990 for $4 million just as the minors began to flourish again.
"A baseball purist at heart, Wolff grew frustrated at the money- and marketing-driven approach exhibited by the regular minor leagues, whose clubs were beholden to the major-league organizations to which they fed players. (Communities rarely got to know the best players, because they were promoted to the next level within three or sixth months.) So in 1993, Wolff re-established the Northern League, a circuit in the upper Midwest made up of teams that operated outside the sphere of Organized Baseball. The Northern League’s six clubs signed players — often minor-league veterans on their way down or overlooked collegians — to stock their rosters. The Northern League was an instant success and spawned imitators across the country.
"Wolff’s first baseball job came in 1971 as the general manager of the Double-A Savannah (Georgia) Braves, and he subsequently was a GM in Anderson, South Carolina., and Jacksonville, Florida.
"Wolff also owned Baseball America, the Durham-based magazine of the minor leagues, for most of its lifetime. He bought the magazine from founder Allan Simpson in 1982 and served as president and publisher until selling the company in 2000."
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PRE-ORDER Miles Wolff's soon-to-be-released memoir "There's a Bulldozer on Home Plate: A 50-Year Journey in Minor League Baseball" AND/OR the upcoming final (4th) edition of the indispensable "Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball: A Complete Record of Teams, Leagues and Seasons, 1876-2019" NOW!