CLEVELAND — Euphoria arrived in a suite high above the field at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. The Indians had just punched their ticket to the World Series, winning Game 5 of the American League Championship Series. That’s just when Indians general manager Mike Chernoff looked over to catch “one of the coolest moments of my life.”
There stood his father, Mark, the longtime vice president of programming at WFAN. He was overjoyed.
“As we made the last out to win the game, I turned to my dad,” Mike Chernoff said before Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday. “He threw his arms up in the air. He had a smile on his face and he gave me a huge hug. It was one of the coolest moments just to share that with him.”
Those moments could continue on if the Indians win their first title since 1948. Father and son will be together again for the first two games of the Fall Classic.
As Cleveland braced for perhaps the best sports day in the city’s history — the Cavaliers received their NBA championship rings at the arena across the way — Chernoff said he hasn’t had much time to soak it all in. Of course, the Indians winning a championship of their own would change all of that.
“It’s hard to,” said Chernoff, who was promoted to Indians GM last October. “You put your head down. We’re trying to win every game we play and there’s a lot of preparation that goes into it. At the same time, you have to make sure as an organization that we celebrate it and we enjoy the process of going through it.”
Growing up, Chernoff, 35, spent plenty of time at WFAN’s studios. But it didn’t take long for him to figure out his own aspirations. In the summer of 2002, between his junior and senior years at Princeton, Chernoff got his start in baseball working for the Mets.
Former Mets general manager Jim Duquette hired Chernoff, who made about $50 a week. It wasn’t nearly enough to cover his tolls from the family home in New Jersey. From nine to five, Chernoff worked in the marketing department. From five to midnight, he took on “as much baseball stuff as Jim would give me.”
“We didn’t have statistical databases or anything,” Chernoff said. “So I was taking the [Baseball America] Super Register and just transcribing the stats into a database so I could do some studies for him. Old-school analysis.”
Now, he helps steer one of the most forward-thinking front offices in all off baseball.
Said Chernoff: “It’s a little bit different today.”