Kenny Williams held every job imaginable as he climbed the leadership ladder with Chicago. Following a less than notable career as a player that ended in 1991, Williams rejoined the White Sox as a scout in 1992 before becoming a special assistant to the team’s chairman, Jerry Reinsdorf, in 1994.
He showed a talent for identifying players, and in 1997 he was promoted to vice-president of player development.
Kenny Williams Builds Chicago White Sox World Series Winner
In 2000, Williams replaced Ron Scheuler as general manager of the Sox following the team’s first playoff appearance in seven years. With Frank Thomas’ career winding down, Williams made the choice to hire another White Sox legend to push the team over the hump.
By bringing in the fiery personality of Ozzie Guillen, and committing to aggressive moves in acquiring talent, Williams was able to completely rebuild the lineup in just over two years.
In 2005, his vision would be realized.
The White Sox finished 99-63, capturing the AL Central title before defeating the defending champion Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels, and Houston Astros to win the World Series for the first time in 88 years.
Over the next seven years, Chicago would remain competitive but failed to match the success of that magical run of ‘05. However, Williams’ loyalty and success were rewarded by Reinsdorf as he was promoted to Executive Vice President.
And now, that historic tenure has come to an end.
Ken Williams endured and won during his two decades in charge of the White Sox. He dealt with racism, low expectations, and the notoriously tight budget of Reinsdorf over the years.
"Dana Brown, 55, brings a more seasoned and traditional scouting background to the job than his most recent predecessors, Click and Jeff Luhnow, who were hired at 42 and 44 years old, respectively." pic.twitter.com/ZUtLSXi9SI
Brown Is A Five-Tool Executive With Decades Of Experience & An Eye For Talent
Brown is as close to a five-tool next generation executive as there is in the game today. In the new world order of talent evaluation, player development, and acquisitions, the anointed leader of the Astros front office appears to be a great fit as the franchise hopes to continue its deep playoff runs that culminated last year with their victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series.
With Dusty Baker as the field manager and Brown running the show in the front office, the Astros become the second team in MLB history to give Black Knights an opportunity to collaborate on the critical decisions regarding the construction of their roster. The potentially dynamic duo follows in the footsteps of former Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams and manager Jerry Manuel in the windy city.
Houston has been one of the more progressive franchises in Major League Baseball when it comes to hiring Black front office executives to lead their franchise while helping chart their course to championships. Brown follows in the footsteps of Bob Watson who was MLB’s first Black GM in 1993.
“I’ve been in the game for 33 years,” Brown said according to MLB.com. “Baseball is all I know. It’s my entire life, and so I want to empty myself into this city [and] the Astros fans and let [owner] Jim Crane knows he made a special pick.”
Brown Drafted Vaughn Grissom & Money Mike Harris II
Brown was a vital contributor to the recent success of the Braves by drafting and evaluating the development of the young stars who began paying dividends in 2022. He is noted for his analytical acumen and his understanding of player development as he was part of the “war rooms” when the Braves drafted new school MLBbros Michael Harris II and Vaughn Grissom. As rookies, both were significant contributors to the Braves’ National League East division title last year.
His thumbprints remain on several other teams who have enjoyed championship success after his expertise helped them acquire all-star talent that paid dividends. Brown was the director of scouting for the Expos/Nationals franchise from 2002-09, and reportedly drafted more than 40 Major League players, including seven All-Stars after his scouting career began with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1994.
It’s a special moment for Brown and his wife Cassandra. The couple met in the 6th grade, so she’s 100 percent invested in her husband’s success and understands how he is pioneering new ground for other aspiring Black front office executives.
#Astros General Manager Dana Brown and his wife Casandra met in the 6th grade, and started dating in high school. However, their stories differ on how it all started. 😉 pic.twitter.com/IFJbcMCBXI
MLB Percentages Still Single Digits For Black Representation
MLB’s numbers regarding African American players sit at just under 8 percent on the field and it’s less than half of that when it comes to corporate leadership on these MLB teams.
There’s a reason why the Braves and Astros are flagship franchises these days. They have a diverse body of decision makers, baseball lifers, with decades of experience and a winning formula that extends beyond their firm grasp of the metrics.