July 19, 2013
Capuchino High grad Mike Selleck has always been about the numbers.
Even from an early age in San Bruno he says he always found joy in keeping statistics and records about sports, especially baseball. Unlike most sports, the numbers in baseball tell a story. They compare the past to the present; they find ways to make unique connections between people and events that can be separated by years, decades, and centuries.
After a bit of uncertainty at first, Selleck realized he could turn his love for baseball’s narrative into something he could do for a living.
“I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was doing stuff like this in high school, like keeping score of games and doing stats. Then my high school coach knew the baseball coach at Cal, (so I) went there and did more of the same, and then I saw I could make a career out of it," Selleck said. "And I think once I got there I knew this was something I could do.”
Selleck currently is a member of the Oakland Athletics public relations department as the Baseball Information Manager, a position he’s reached by working for 30 years with the team. He got his start, he said, “when I went to school at Cal and one of the guys I worked with in the Sports Information department there, Eric Kubota, was working here, and they had an opening for an internship. And after a year of an internship and two years working part time, I was hired full time.”
Kubota, a Watsonville High grad, is now the A's scouting director.
Despite playing baseball at an early age, unlike most, Selleck said he found more joy in keeping statistics than actually playing the game.
“Well me never really being a great athlete was probably the main reason. It was just something I enjoyed," he said. "My dad taught me how to keep score of games and we would keep statistics which was something I always found fascinating. Keeping records and the history of the game was always interesting, and I was able to keep those records and become a part of that.”
Jane Bowler, the mother of Selleck's longtime classmate Tim Bowler, recalls Selleck's fondness for numbers. The pre-teen was keeping statistics for youth league games around San Bruno at a time most kids his age were still playing.
"Mike was always so intelligent about the stats," Jane said. "People would go running up to him after games and want to know how many hits and walks there were."
Back in the day, the so-called statistical gurus and the hardcore number guys were much more unrecognizable and always had low profile -- unlike the Bill Jameses and Theo Epsteins of the world today who are role models to young up and comers.
Selleck didn’t really have a star to emulate. However he does give credit to people for where he is now.
“As far as growing up, yeah my dad (the late Jim Selleck). He kept score and did statistics while I was playing so it was something I started doing after that. Then once I got the job here, I learned a lot from the guy who hired me. He did some statistical stuff with Tony La Russa, and I learned from him as to how it’s done at this level. So those were the two people I looked up to.”
Selleck is one of the fortunate ones doing something he loves for a living, further hinting that -- despite some long hours and sometimes tedious work -- he hasn't toiled a day in his life.