Purpura's in charge, but don't call him 'Boss'

Updated: November 12, 2004, 12:06 PM ET
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN Insider
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. – Tim Purpura grew up in a southwestern Chicago suburb and decided relatively early in life that he wanted to work in baseball. He was attending a San Diego Padres game after college when he approached long-time White Sox and Orioles general manager Roland Hemond in the stands during batting practice for a career tip or two.

"Go to law school," Hemond told Purpura, "because pretty soon the lawyers are going to be running baseball."

Purpura, a self-directed young man, heeded Hemond's advice, obtaining his degree from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego in 1992. Then he rounded out his portfolio, taking an internship with the Anaheim Angels, working in the Arizona Fall League, and spending 11 years in the Houston Astros' front office as an assistant general manager and director of player development.

Along the way, Purpura developed an appreciation for a dollar well-spent and the importance of patience in formulating long-term goals. He also came to understand the contribution of scouts who sit under a hot sun trying to find players, and minor-league managers and coaches who work long hours for low pay trying to develop them.

Purpura gained a grassroots knowledge of baseball quietly and efficiently, and probably thought few people noticed. But he was wrong.

Two weeks ago, when general manager Gerry Hunsicker unexpectedly resigned, the Astros replaced him with Purpura, 46. The move was so in keeping with Houston's mindset of developing from within that Hunsicker called Purpura the "Jason Lane of the front office" – in reference to the Houston outfield prospect who's still awaiting his shot in the big leagues.

Jerry Crasnick

ESPN Senior Writer