By James Cullum (Photo/Brace Hemmelgarn, Minnesota Twins)
A perfect day for Alexandrian Thad Levine is when his family goes to his baseball games. It’s the closest that the newest general manager of the Minnesota Twins, hired over the winter break, gets to feeling like a kid again, and it takes him back to when his sister, mom, father and he drove to Baltimore Orioles games in the late 1970s.
“I’m happiest when I get to marry baseball with my family and they’re at a game enjoying themselves,” Levine told the Alexandria Times from spring training in Fort Myers, Fla. “I’m very happy to be getting a chance to come to Minnesota and be a general manager and move into the next phase of my life.”
Levine, 45, was named the most valuable baseball player in Alexandria when he graduated from T.C. Williams High School in 1990. He credits his father with inspiring his love for the game, and even shares a hereditary ability to remember numbers, facts and figures.
“I feel as if my passion for baseball was genetically passed down to me by my father,” he said. “At a very young age I could name all the numbers of the jerseys of all the Orioles, the better part of the American league and their statistics.”
Michael Levine, wearing a Minnesota Twins jacket and a Texas Rangers cap, where Thad Levine was assistant general manager from 2005 until 2016, said that talent for remembering numbers runs in the family.
“My father could read off his friends’ social security numbers off the top of his head, and Thad’s son, Quinn, has a very good memory, too,” he said. “We’re not mathematicians, but we have an affinity for numbers.”
Michael Levine, the former assistant treasurer at the National Gallery of Art, was consumed by baseball during his childhood in Manhattan in the 1940s.
“Back when I was a kid, baseball was how you learned all your arithmetic,” he said. “You got batting averages by dividing at-bats into hits. … All the newspapers had the statistics on baseball.”
Michael Levine and his wife, Rozanna, moved into Old Town in 1971, the same year Thad was born. And, while the couple are planning to move to Goodwin House next month, Rozanna Levine says it was in fact she who sparked Thad’s baseball career in their Gibbon Street townhome.
“When he was extremely young, I would hold him in my arms and he would endlessly throw and catch a ball off our front hall wall,” Rozanna said. “No wonder that he developed great eye hand coordination.”
Thad Levine was hired last November after the Twins’ worst-ever record of 59-103. He was the assistant GM of the Texas Rangers for 11 seasons — the team lost back-to-back World Series in 2010 and 2011 — and initially climbed his way from an intern position into the assistant general managership of the Colorado Rockies.
He has a Master’s degree from UCLA, played Division III baseball at Haverford College in Pennsylvania and credits T.C. Williams with providing him a diverse upbringing.
“It’s really helped me with my career,” he said. “It shaped and prepared me for opportunities throughout my life.”
Spring training means that Levine will spend nearly two months away from his wife and three children. He only comes home to Alexandria nowadays for Thanksgiving and to play the Orioles or, more rarely, the Nationals.
“My family loves what I do, but they are also aware of how much time it takes me away from them,” he said. “Spring training is a perfect example of that. We’re gone for seven weeks. But I get to do what I love. When I leave to go to work I’m excited, and I’m excited to come home to be with my family.”
Michael Levine is proud of his son.
“Of course I’m proud. Men live their lives through their sons,” he said. “I don’t like losing, but you can’t go crazy about it. Right now, Thad’s trying to get veteran leaders to work with young players to get them over the psychological hump, because losing is part of the game, a part of life and you have to shake it off.”