SBJ/Sept. 11-17, 2017/Game Changers

Jean Afterman, New York Yankees

Photo by: NEW YORK YANKEES

N
ew York Yankees executive Jean Afterman is one of the most powerful women in baseball, and someone often mentioned as a candidate to be MLB’s first female general manager. But her arrival to the sport was essentially an accidental one.

Jean Afterman
New York Yankees // Senior vice president and assistant general manager
A lawyer by trade and actress by avocation, Afterman in the early 1990s was representing player agent Don Nomura in a dispute over baseball card licensing rights. The pair, however, soon began to work on rules governing the migration of Japanese baseball players to America. Afterman found crucial loopholes that ultimately led to a reworking of the posting system between Nippon Professional Baseball and MLB, in turn allowing stars such as Hideo Nomo, Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui to come stateside and opening up a new era of internationalization in baseball.

“I really think Hideo Nomo saved baseball,” Afterman said of the Japanese hurler’s arrival to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995. “You think about where the sport was then, coming off the strike in 1994 and all that ugliness. This gave people a reason to be excited again.”

Yankees GM Brian Cashman brought Afterman on to his staff in late 2001, and nearly 16 years later, the duo have proved to be a highly potent partnership. On top of 11 playoff appearances, two pennants and a World Series title, Afterman has been a key sounding board to Cashman and a valuable contract negotiator.

As for that GM post, Afterman is much more interested in maintaining her ties to the Yankee pinstripes.

“What [managing general partner] Hal [Steinbrenner] and the rest of the organization here are doing, both on and off the field, is tremendously exciting,” she said. “A franchise is a living, breathing organism, and there has been such a tremendous jolt of young energy around here that’s been very invigorating.”

— Eric Fisher



  • Where born: San Francisco.
  • Education: University of California, Berkeley, B.A., “History of Art”; University of San Francisco School of Law, J.D.
  • Attribute I look for when hiring: An active, articulate and individual mind.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Everyone has an interesting back story.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Life is too short to be $%^&ing around doing something you don’t enjoy (advice from my mother).
  • Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: If I knew that, I would have a healthier work-life balance.
  • If I had it to do over again: I would change nothing.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: I would like to meet the first woman GM of an MLB team (maybe I have already met her?).
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? Never played out, women face challenges, still, in every profession and in every part of our society — now more than ever.
  • Cause supported: Planned Parenthood.

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