Paul Beeston, BA’67, LLD’94, has no trouble with the curve balls of professional sport. As President Emeritus of the Toronto Blue Jays, his two World Series rings prove it. And Western gave him his home field advantage.
As a boy, when his father took him to watch baseball games at the former Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Paul Beeston (BA’67, LLD’94) rarely had a good view from his seat. Something usually stood in his way.
“My father could always guarantee we would be [sitting] behind a pole,” said Beeston. “He could buy the tickets at the window, in advance [or] from a scalper. It didn’t make any difference. Behind a pole we always were.”
But that bad-luck view to catch the Tigers play the Yankees, White Sox and Red Sox in the 1950s was the perfect spot for Beeston. He fell for baseball.
That love of stolen bases, grand slams and RBIs has scored an almost four-decade career in Major League Baseball.
After graduating with a degree in economics and political science from Huron University College in 1967, Beeston worked as an accountant for several years.
Then in 1976, baseball made the call. Through some Western alumni, Beeston landed a job as the first employee of the Toronto Blue Jays. “Effective that day, I retired. Every day since has been a Saturday for me,” said Beeston.
He has been associated with the Blue Jays “mound” ever since, serving in several leadership positions, including as president and CEO when Toronto won the World Series in 1992 and 1993. For a brief time (1997 to 2002), Beeston was president and chief operating officer of Major League Baseball. He returned “home” in 2009 to lead the Blue Jays and Rogers Centre.
Even from his front-row, unobstructed view of 40 years of baseball, Beeston carries the same passion for the game as that boy who watched games with his dad.
“I consider myself extremely, extremely fortunate and lucky,” said Beeston, a pioneer of baseball in Canada and member of the Order of Canada and the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
“It has been a terrific ride being able to be part of an organization that had…an impact on making people feel good. I think that’s a tremendous way of spending your life.”
Beeston retired as Blue Jays president and CEO in November 2015. In September 2016, the team named him president emeritus “in honour and recognition of his many years of service and contributions to the organization”.
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