PASADENA, CA – Baseball New Zealand this week has secured the services of Jamestown, Ohio native, Fred Claire, former Executive Vice-President and General Manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers Major League Baseball organization, as a special advisor to the organization.
Besides his long tenure with the Dodgers, Claire is a longtime mentor for many executives in the professional and international sports communities and Baseball New Zealand CEO Ryan Flynn is one of Claire’s baseball “disciples.”
“We’ve just scored a large victory with the addition of Fred as a key advisor and stakeholder in our program,” said Flynn. “Securing the services of someone with such a lengthy baseball pedigree, someone as respected in the sport as he is a huge coup for the sport in this country.”
Flynn said Claire has been advising the country’s national body unofficially for some time, but added that the program is now at a critical juncture and the timing is right to formalize this key relationship and take it to the next level.
In a distinguished 30-year career with the Dodgers, Claire served the team 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.
A shop keeper’s son starting out at the tail-end of the Great Depression, Fred Claire was born on October 5, 1935 in Jamestown, Ohio. His mother, Mary Frances Harper, was born and raised in Jamestown where her father operated Harper’s Drug Store.
Ironically, given the town’s modern history, his grandfather’s store was eventually destroyed by fire. Claire’s father, Marston, later opened another drug store on the opposite corner of the village. “My Dad’s drug store was simply known as Claire’s Corner Drug Store,” Claire said.
As a young boy, he lived in the apartment above the store with his parents, his brother Doug and one sister named Lynn. With his family, Claire enjoyed fishing trips to Canada and nearby Indian Lake and began his business career as a young entrepreneur. “My brother and I trapped muskrats,” Claire recalled. “And I had a newspaper route delivering the Xenia Daily Gazette.”
Claire suggested that his passion for sports came from early summer mornings in Jamestown when friends would throw pebbles at his second-floor apartment window. This was, according to Claire, “the indication that it was time to get up, get the baseball equipment and head out to the diamond at Silvercreek School.” He was referring to the historic school at the corner of SR 72 and South Charleston road in Jamestown which was razed in 2013 but, for many years, served as the Greeneview primary and junior high building.
Claire joined the Dodgers in 1969 and he proved to be an award-winning executive at every stage of his career. Claire was directing the team’s marketing efforts when the Dodgers first hit the three-million mark in attendance and established a period of record-setting attendance figures.
In April of 1987, Claire was named general manager of the Dodgers and when the team won the World Series in 1988 he was selected Major League Baseball’s “Executive of the Year” by The Sporting News. Claire became the fifth Dodger executive in the team’s history to win the award, following Larry MacPhail (1939), Branch Rickey (1947), Walter O’Malley (1955) and Buzzie Bavasi (1959).
Since his departure from the Dodgers in June of 1998, Claire has maintained an active schedule as an educator and as a consultant to a variety of businesses in addition to an on-going civic involvement. He is a partner in the baseball analytic company AriBall.com.
“Having someone on board with the experience and expertise that Fred Claire has is a huge win for this country and our fast-growing baseball program,” Flynn said. “Bouncing ideas and strategy off of a man with a great history of baseball experience and successes in the game, plus his ability to bring key people and organizations together, will pay dividends for many years for Baseball New Zealand, and we couldn’t be more fortunate with this development.”
“I’ve always had an interest in growing the game of baseball and to have the opportunity with Baseball New Zealand and to work with Ryan Flynn and his group is very exciting,” said Claire. Claire had made a trip to Australia in the late 1970’s and helped to set the stage for a connection between the Dodgers and the Australian Baseball Federation. Dodger coaches Monty Basgall, Red Adams and Guy Wellman traveled to Australia a few years after Claire’s visit to give clinics and promote baseball.
“I liked the fact that the baseball officials in Australia were growing the game from the standpoint of placing an emphasis on youngsters learning and playing the game and this is what I see happening in New Zealand today,” said Claire.
During his 12 seasons as the Dodger general manager, the team signed pitchers Hideo Nomo from Japan and Chan Ho Park from South Korea. Nomo was one of five consecutive National League Rookies of the Year during Claire’s tenure, joining Eric Karros, Mike Piazza, Raul Mondesi and Todd Hollandsworth.
For more on Fred Claire, Reference: Fred Claire, “30 Years in Dodger Blue”