Tim Purpura '91: From Law School to Major League Baseball's Executive Suite
TJSL alumnus Tim Purpura ’91 has had a lifelong love affair with baseball. It led him to his current position as the Senior Director of Player Development for the Texas Rangers, his former position as General Manager of the Houston Astros and many other positions in baseball as well.
His career story was an inspiration to those who heard him speak at TJSL on January 24, as he talked about his pathway from law school to baseball’s executive suites during a lunchtime event presented by the TJSL Alumni Association and the law school’s Center for Sports Law and Policy.
Purpura says a bit of advice from his mentor, former Orioles and White Sox general manager Roland Hemond is what made up his mind to go to law school. Hemond told him that “someday lawyers are going to run baseball.”
Those were prophetic words and today Purpura feels that not only are there a myriad of opportunities for lawyers in baseball, but in all professional and amateur sports. “Law school was my entrée into sports that I would not have had otherwise,” he said.
In fact, Purpura was already interning with the then California Angels while he was at the law school when it was known as Western State University College of Law – flying back and forth between San Diego and the Angel’s training facility in Arizona.
“They were exhausting times, but great times,” Purpura said.
After law school, he followed former Angel’s general manager Mike Port, who was founding the Arizona Fall League. “I used my law degree right off the bat to negotiate stadium leases around Phoenix,” said Purpura. “But I also did everything from washing player’s uniforms to raking the infield,” adding that it was great experience for his later career as a baseball executive.
Being the GM of the Astros was “the epitome of what I aspired to in baseball,” Purpura said. And so far, his greatest experience was the Astros playing in the World Series against his boyhood team, the Chicago White Sox, even though Chicago won the series.
“The World Series was the highlight of my career, but losing in the World Series was the lowlight of my career,” he said.
Purpura also told the audience some pretty colorful stories about his experiences in baseball, stories that included baseball greats like Albert Pujols, Craig Biggio and the late Ken Caminiti, among others.
As far as the climate in sports now, Purpura feels the two biggest issues are Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDS) and inappropriate social media messages by players. “Every area of professional and amateur sports has lawyers involved with the PED problem,” he said.
And he says there are so many opportunities in different areas of sports law, including licensing and workers compensation.
Event organizer Jeremy Evans ’11 presented Purpura with a Distinguished Alumni Award and Purpura in turn said he is really impressed with the new TJSL campus.
“It’s amazing," Purpura commented. “I have to commend the law school for building a first-class facility with great amenities to help the students learn.”
"We were delighted to have Tim Purpura join us and offer his words of wisdom," said Evans. "As I looked around the room during his speech, I could see eyes filled with wonder, dreams, and excitement, including my own, as Tim told his stories and experience working and living in America's Pastime. Very practical and honest advice of his path in sports and how we can get there too--hard work!"