Props & Hops: Three Actionable Quotes from a Special Conversation with Former Dodgers GM Fred Claire

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January 6, 2021 5:12 AM

It was an honor to connect with former Dodgers General Manager Fred Claire to discuss building a World Series winner, confronting cancer, and making the most out of life.

Here’s a glimpse into Fred’s wisdom through three quotes we can all apply to our daily lives - check out the full conversation here.

“Make each day your masterpiece.”

Fred drew upon these words from his friend and legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden multiple times during our conversation. Adding his own context to it, Fred noted, “We don’t have a day to waste.”

Fred put these words into action at the outset of his career by securing his first job as a sportswriter just two days after graduating with his journalism degree from San Jose State. A sense of urgency to make the most of each day has continued to drive him ever since.

When I asked Fred for one piece of advice for future generations, his answer was this quote.

“You can’t hold onto things that no longer belong to you.”

Few occupations in the world are more coveted than the role of General Manager for a Major League Baseball team. Millions of people consider it a dream job; at any given moment, however, the dream is only a reality for 30 people.

As a major part of his 30 years in Dodger Blue, Fred led the organization as its GM for more than a decade. He guided the Dodgers from turmoil to the top of the baseball world within a year and a half of taking the helm.

In 1998, shortly after Fox bought the team from Peter O’Malley and traded the face of the franchise without Fred’s knowledge, Fred was fired in O’Malley’s old office. There’s no way it couldn’t have been devastating. But rather than play the victim card, Fred summoned the strength to move on.

He quickly began teaching a sports business and media class at the University of Southern California and has since taught at Long Beach State University and the California Institute of Technology as well. He also went to work in a different capacity for MLB, writing a column and doing games for ESPN Radio. A comprehensive list of his other roles and contributions since leaving the Dodgers would be endless.

Fred is best known as the World Series-winning manager of the Dodgers, but that doesn’t define him. He’s done perhaps his most impactful work in the two decades-plus since he and the team parted ways by mentoring countless people across myriad walks of life, confronting cancer, and ultimately saving lives through raising money and awareness for the world-class team at City of Hope National Medical Center.

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”

Fred loves to shine a light on these timeless words from his friend Jackie Robinson.

As it relates to Fred, this quote resonates on a personal level. Fred worked with my Grandpa Willie at the Whittier Daily News and in our conversation he shared his thought process behind a selfless decision to turn down a promotion, saving my grandpa’s job by extension. Doing what he thought was right at the time not only triggered a chain reaction that led Fred to his dream of a career in baseball, but also made a generational impact on my family.

On a broader level, Fred continues to make a positive impact on other lives through his involvement in the podcast Life in the Front Office, which is geared toward helping young people interested in a career in sports. 

And at the greatest level, Fred is making an impact on other lives by supporting City of Hope with all he has. He raised more than half a million dollars through two celebrity golf tournaments he organized while undergoing treatment for cancer. He continues to raise funds and awareness through the captivating book Extra Innings: Fred Claire's Journey to City of Hope and Finding a World Championship Team. All net proceeds from book sales go to City of Hope.

From my family to people pursuing a career in sports to everyone affected by cancer, Fred continues to make a remarkable impact on countless other lives to this day. This speaks volumes to the importance of his own life. His friend Jackie, whom he views as the greatest Dodger of them all, must be proud.

For more on Fred’s wisdom, integrity and strength in every sense of the word, listen to our full conversation here and pick up a copy of Extra Innings.


 

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