The newly released book “The Big Chair,” written by Ned Colletti (’76), former general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, offers a rare inside look into the heart and mind of the game of baseball and Colletti’s experiences working for the Cubs, Giants and Dodgers. Rich with rarely shared details about what takes place behind closed doors, the book is also an inspiring memoir of a poor kid from Chicago who made it to the top of America’s national pastime.
“My goal in writing this book was fairly simple: to pay forward all of the storytellers who helped sow the love of the game in me,” Colletti said. “Maybe there is a person who reads the book and develops a deeper love for the game or a newfound interest. I also hope to give confidence to young people who wonder if they can accomplish their dreams.”
Growing up as a working-class kid in Chicago, Colletti played sandlot ball and rooted passionately for his beloved hometown Cubs.
“I spent more time thinking baseball, playing baseball and learning baseball than I did any other activity in my life. Even when I was a young boy, baseball wasn’t a hobby – it was my life,” Colletti said. “And the Cubs were my favorite team. Anyone who knew me would tell you, the Cubs and baseball were my soulful passion.”
The first member of his family to graduate from college, Colletti began his career as a sports journalist. Out of work and scrambling to support his young family, he was staggered by the offer to join the media relations department of the Cubs. During his 12 years there, he saw the Cubs win the National League East in 1984 and 1989 and moved up the ranks at the organization until he was let go by new management. Next, he served as assistant general manager of the San Francisco Giants during the Barry Bonds years, when the team had a .558 winning percentage and won the National League Championship Series. He helped contribute to a dramatic culture change within the organization. Then Colletti was offered the huge opportunity to become GM of the Giants’ archrival, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He brings readers inside negotiation rooms as he makes deals for some of the Dodgers’ marquee players during his tenure. Colletti’s tenure as the 10th GM of the Dodgers (2006-2014 seasons) spanned some of the most exciting and turbulent years in Dodgers franchise history, including playoff appearances in five of his nine seasons, season records over .500 eight out of nine years and 783 wins from 2006 until 2014, the highest winning percentage of any GM in the National League. He brought marquee names like Greg Maddux and Clayton Kershaw to LA as well as marquee drama with the acquisition of Manny Ramirez minutes before the 2008 trade deadline, deemed by many as the greatest trade in franchise history. He was also involved in the signing of 21-year-old Cuban prospect Yasiel Puig for $42 million and the nine-player trade to acquire All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
Since retiring as the Dodgers GM, Colletti appears as a baseball analyst on SportsNet LA before and after Dodgers games and is a professor of sports management at Pepperdine University.