Although Jim Duquette ’88 was both a baseball and basketball standout while at the College, his career focused on only one of these two passions: baseball. Duquette served as a Major League Baseball (MLB) front office executive, including a tenure as general manager of the New York Mets in 2004. He later spent time as the Baltimore Orioles’ vice president of baseball operations and now works as an MLB broadcaster and analyst.
Duquette played center field for the Ephs and was selected to the All-American team his senior year.
“Our baseball team in particular was really close-knit,” Duquette said. “Regardless of our win-loss record, our coach, Jim Briggs ’60, really set the tone for us. He had the right balance of studies, athletics, what baseball meant to the overall campus experience and I think because of that it was an enjoyable four years playing for the team.”
Duquette went on to say that, on the team, there were “two good years and two lousy years.” Nevertheless, he valued the relationships he formed with others more than the team’s success.
“We made lifelong friends that we still stay in contact with,” he said. “That part of Williams shaped me, or at least shaped what I wanted to do.”
The team was not the only influential factor in Duquette’s time at Williams. In addition to Briggs, many other faculty members at the College had an impact on Duquette. “I played basketball, and [former head coach] Harry Sheehy ’75 played a big role shaping me as an athlete and as a person.”
Regarding academics, Duquette said, “There were so many professors of mine that made an impactful role in shaping me and my campus life here.” He cited in particular Professor of History Emeritus John Hyde ’52 and former Professor of Economics and President of the College Morton Shapiro.
After leaving the College, Duquette took a rather unlikely path into the MLB. His cousin, current Baltimore Orioles general manager Dan Duquette, was already working in the league as an assistant. The family connection, coupled with the strength of Duquette’s credentials, landed him a front office job with the Mets in 1991.
Duquette gives credit to his Williams education for his ability to succeed in the world of baseball.
“I happened to be lucky in terms of coming along when they were looking for versatile front office executives who didn’t have necessarily a professional baseball background but had a playing background and a level of intelligence where they could run a front office,” he said. “Working for the Mets has made my livelihood and made my career and I’m thankful for all those opportunities, but I think it’s personally the education at Williams and the liberal arts background that, for me, was great training to get into the front office work.”
Duquette now works as the co-host of MLB Network’s radio show “Power Alley.” He tries to be a fair and considerate commentator.
“Baseball looks a lot easier when you’re watching it on television or from afar than when you’re in the middle of it,” he said. “Among other things, what I try to do as an analyst is, rather than be overly critical, the important thing to always remember is that baseball is hard and there are only a certain small percentage of players who can play at the highest level and even the best players have a level of failure in their game. That part of it is something you try not to lose perspective on when you’re making analysis. You have to make sure you have a balance.”
Duquette ties this philosophy, his analytical abilities and quick learning to his education.
“I didn’t have any experience doing it,” he said, “but it was one of those things where I could pay attention to detail, once again going back to … some of the things I learned at the College [that] translated and stayed with me at this job.”