Rockies Al Gilbert loves baseball and practices law
DENVER — Director of baseball operations for the New Rockies, Al Gilbert loves practicing law and he does it very well.
Gilbert’s competence in the legal arena is evidenced by his internship and fellowship stints with the United States Department of Justice—writing speeches for Tom Perez, then Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights; help prosecute hate crimes; researches and writes memos on sentencing issues relating to white collar crimes and violent offences; and analyzing court-supervised settlement conferences to resolve criminal cases. Originally from Oakland, Calif., Gilbert returned to the Bay Area to work as an associate at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and later as an assistant district attorney for San Francisco.
But as an ADA with an 80 caseload in his work year, through seven trials, “mostly DUI and gun possession,” and through all the legal processes he found enjoyable , there was always time for baseball.
“Baseball never left,” said Gilbert, whose role in the Rockies’ revamped front office will include being a voice this offseason making creative moves to build the club, as well as managing the list during the season. “Even in law school, I was doing a sports law clinic and was the editor of the sports and entertainment journal. So I’ve always been interested in sports.
“Still, I was watching baseball. After the day at the law firm, I checked out business rumors and what was going on with the deals. I always had my opinion on what guys should be paid.
Albert Gilbert IV, 32, grew up in the Oakland area looking up to Giants slugger Barry Bonds. But his favorite player on his favorite team was shortstop Miguel Tejada with the Athletics. Organic singing fans like him sang from the bleachers, “Da-da-da, dadadat-da, Tejada!” still ringing in his ears.
Gilbert had played youth ball at Oakland with some distinction, including playing for the Oakland All-Stars at the Cal Ripken 12-U World Series in Vincennes, Ind.
While in high school at St. Paul’s School, a boarding school in Concord, NH, he was an intermediate outfielder and team captain. He prepared for law by earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology from Stanford University and attending Harvard Law School.
Gilbert’s arm strength level dictated a high school switch from shortstop to second baseman, but he was good enough to consider playing at Cornell University. The influence of his parents, however, caused him to focus solely on Stanford academics.
“My mother [Erin Gilbert] has his MBA from USC and his JD from Columbia Law School, and my dad [Albert III] has his MBA from Indiana,” Gilbert said. “Some kind of graduate degree was the expectation. When I was in college, it was clear to me that I was in the best position to take the legal route. I had strengths in reading and writing.
“Yes, law school, the classic saying goes, it teaches you to think like a lawyer. There are benefits to trying to think logically, whatever that means.
When Gilbert left the legal field to be part of the inaugural class of the MLB Diversity Scholarship Program in 2018 — after his mother heard about the program on a radio show and encouraged him to apply — he had never met a front office manager. He then worked for the Dodgers as the baseball contracts and finance coordinator for the 2018-21 seasons before joining the Rockies.
Gilbert’s credentials intrigued Tyrone Brooks, MLB’s senior director of the Front Office and Field Staff Diversity Pipeline Program, when the diversity scholarship program began.
“We were excited for him to work in baseball, and the Dodgers hired him and that opened the door for him to start working in the game,” Brooks said. “With his legal background, he learned the rules and different aspects of baseball operations while playing a role in many of their contracts. Now, to go to the Rockies, he’s actually the first member of our diversity scholarship program to become a director of an organization.
Gilbert was part of a stellar initial class.
Brittany Haby, who the Rockies promoted this offseason to head of baseball research after two scholarships with the club, was also a member of that 2018 class. This winter, the Rockies also brought in Julianna Rubin as a a baseball operations fellow, to continue the program’s influence with the club, and Emily Glass, formerly the Marlins education coordinator, joined the Rockies as a scouting operations administrator after training in MLB. Diversity Pipeline Scout Development Program.
As passionate as Gilbert is about baseball and applying all of his skills to help a club, he is equally enthusiastic about helping others through his visibility and information. Gilbert said that before looking for a job in the game, he had never met a front office manager – let alone a black person, a person of color or a woman.
“Representation is important,” Gilbert said. “To the extent that I’m that for someone else, I’m happy to be that. I definitely have people reaching out to me every day, whether it’s through LinkedIn or random email. I am interested in speaking to anyone who is interested in learning more about the industry or thinking about this career path.
“There are so many people who want to come in, but it’s worth it. It’s a big industry.