White Sox add technology
May 31, 2004
Don Brown is
my vote for 10th man on the Chicago White Sox. Brown, the director
of management information systems for the team, doesn't make the
big hits like the Big Hurt, Frank Thomas, but his systems track
them. Brown won't be threatening Magglio Ordonez's outfield job
or Jose Valentin's work at shortstop, but he oversees the computerized
scouting information systems that identify tomorrow's talent.
Ozzie Guillen makes the dugout decisions, and general manager
Ken Williams runs the organization. Brown is the behind-the-scenes
IT guy who provides the information so things run smoothly.
is entertainment, but it is also big business. It demands high
technology," says Brown. In addition to the usual business
accounting systems, Brown is in charge of proprietary player development
and game analysis systems. He monitors electronic ticket taking,
the computerized scoreboard, and the systems supporting stadium
vendors. His No. 1 concern is making sure the fans have a great
Since the appearance
of Michael Lewis' book, "Moneyball," which describes
a set of analytical approaches that Oakland Athletics' general
manager Billy Beane uses to conserve money and win divisional
titles, Brown's job has become even more important. He has information
flowing on laptops, personal computers and PDAs.
Prior to joining
the White Sox in 1991, Brown worked on Wall Street. He compares
major league baseball to the financial services industry. "When
the game is on, it's got to work," he says.
Brown is modest
about his role with the White Sox: "Information technology
plays a major support role. It's behind the curtain. Our goal
is to keep the place running."
Guillen and the players are the main event, but baseball is a
numbers game, and Brown's systems deliver the numbers.
he can help them win," says Tom Caprel, CEO of IT Lighthouse,
a local technology services provider who serves the White Sox.
"Don has brought incredible insight into how IT can help
a baseball club."
UC entrepreneurs win grants
Ten teams of
aspiring Chicago entrepreneurs received a total of $50,000 in
prize money at the Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge at the
University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.
Top prize winner,
Midway Pharmaceuticals, receives $15,000. The company offers a
new compound to treat inflammatory bowel disease. The compound
was developed by the Division of Gastroenterology at the University
of Chicago. First year MBA students Ana Nicolau, from Iasi, Romania;
Robert Durden, from Charlotte, N.C.; and Dhiren Jhaveri from Nashua,
N.H., authored the winning business plan. Nicolau says the compound
is ready for pre-clinical trials. Robert Okabe, principal with
Illinois Partners, which helps commercialize university based
technology, served as an unpaid advisor to the group.
James L. Tyree,
corporate vice president, global licensing & new business
development for Abbott Labs, helped judge the competition. He
says the Midway Pharmaceuticals' plan "is a biotech business
model that's been proven time and again. If the technology is
successful (in trials), investment in the company will also be
Tied for second
place and receiving $10,000 funding are: Internet Marketing Institute,
a corporate training company that guides small and mid-size companies,
and TixNix, which provides an Internet-based software platform
enabling lawyers to deliver services. There was no third place
Two fourth place
finalists receive $5,000 awards. HealthSource Global Staffing,
which places nurses from China, and Interome Biosciences, which
develops new biomaterials receive these grants.
teams receive honorable mention awards worth $1,000. These are:
Infusion, a tea house restaurant concept; Precision Performance,
a high-end retail store for car hobbyists; Ripula Financial, a
financial services firm targeted at the 56 million workers without
bank relationships in the United States; Roar Athletics, a sports
apparel concept targeting women; and WINCO, a wireless technology
The MIT Enterprise
Forum convenes Wednesday for a satellite broadcast to hear Ethernet
inventor and 3Com founder Bob Metcalfe; Garage Technology Ventures
CEO, Guy Kawasaki; and Hummer Winblad Venture Partners co founder,
Ann Winblad discuss where to place future technology bets.
Michael Krauss is a Chicago-based tech writer and consultant.