Kevin Gray's On Baseball: Giants' GM, scouting exec forged partnership in Concord
Right-hand man Joe Lefebvre, another Capital City product, serves as San Francisco';s senior advisor of scouting — and has been with Sabean in San Francisco nearly every step of the way.
Sabean, the longest-serving GM in the majors, began his organized baseball career at Rollins Park in Concord, in the 1960s, playing for Concord National in the city';s Little League circuit. Lefebvre played for Concord American and usually teamed up with Sabean on all-star teams and various summer clubs through their teenage years.
In the spring of 1974, when they led Concord High to an NHIAA title — a 6-1 triumph over Manchester Memorial clinched it — it was merely an early chapter in an epic work of baseball non-fiction.
Lefebvre became a 1977 draft pick of the Yankees and played more than six seasons in the majors.
The Sabean-led Giants have made six postseason appearances and three trips to the World Series, their most recent trip culminating Sunday night in Detroit, when their 4-3 victory gave them a sweep of the Tigers.
Nobody in the old Concord crew is a bit surprised at their success.
';We all knew Brian was a heady player. You could see it back then,'; Mike Mounsey of Concord, a catcher on the 1973 squad, said. ';He was an excellent team player and always got along great with people.';
Despite his stature in pro baseball, the 56-year-old Sabean manages to keep a low profile, rarely appearing in postgame interviews — unless he';s accepting a piece of postseason hardware or crediting his staff after another huge win. Only now is he finally receiving the national recognition he deserves.
';We keep a low profile as an organization,'; Sabean, who broke into pro baseball as a scout with the Yankees, told MLB.com. ';We know what we';ve done with our continuity. We';ve got a lot of people who have been in this organization for a long time, who have worked behind the scenes to put us in this position. We';re just thankful for this window of opportunity and just trying to take advantage of it.';
Behind the scenes, Sabean can be one of the funniest guys around. Old friends Mounsey and Tommy Flanders, another Concord guy, can vouch for that little-known quality.
';That';s Brian,'; said Mounsey, whose daughter Tara won an Olympic ice hockey gold medal and son Mick played hockey for the University of New Hampshire. ';Brian doesn';t say a whole lot, but when he does, it';s funny. Back when we were playing high school and (American) Legion ball, he made a quite a few friends in Manchester. He';s always been really good when dealing with people.';
In high school, Sabean played second base for up-and-coming coach Warren Doane. Lefebvre was a star pitcher and outfielder for the Crimson Tide.
';You can always tell the great ones right away. Joey was unbelievable at hitting and throwing a baseball,'; Mounsey said. ';Back in those days, we were always playing baseball. Joey always had the most talent. We knew he had the ability to play at the next level.';
After his playing career, Lefebvre began working his way to a front-office position by serving as a minor-league instructor for the Yankees and Phillies. He joined the Giants shortly after Sabean was hired in 1996, taking on roles as minor-league coordinator and hitting coach.
';Let me tell you, Joey wasn';t hired because he was good friends with Brian. He has a lot to offer,'; said Mounsey. ';Joey has done nothing but make Brian look good. Brian did a pretty smart thing by hiring him.';
Staff reporter Kevin Gray covers baseball for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.