Allison rises to Seattle Mariners’ front office

February 27, 2016

Allison_TomGrowing up in the Mat-Su Valley, Tom Allison was so serious about baseball that he’d bring two mitts with him on high school basketball trips.

That ensured he’d have a partner for playing catch.

“I was just always trying to throw,” Allison recalled earlier this month by phone from the Phoenix airport.

His dedication led to a solid college career in California followed by five seasons in the minor leagues.

“My No. 1 dream was to play in the big leagues,” he said.

That goal wasn’t quite realized — he topped out at the AAA level. But for the last two decades, Allison has traveled the world evaluating talent as a Major League Baseball scout.

Last October, Allison, 48, landed his biggest gig yet: a promotion to vice president of player personnel for the Seattle Mariners. He now oversees all the team’s scouting: international, professional and amateur.

Allison scouted for the New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers, Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox before joining the Mariners in 2013.

The Mets also drafted him in the 48th round in 1990 and Allison batted .241 in 303 games as a minor league second baseman.

Allison spent part of his childhood in Willow and graduated from Su Valley High School near Talkeetna in 1985. He was a star basketball player and sprinter and twice completed the Junior Iditarod sled dog race.

But Allison couldn’t play high school baseball; Su Valley was too small to field a team. Instead, Allison commuted to Anchorage to compete on the diamond.

High school classmate Harlow Robinson, now the executive director of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame, is impressed but not surprised by Allison’s climb to pro baseball’s front office.

“Growing up with Tom, he was always highly motivated,” Robinson said. “He was a leader.”

Possessing only average size and strength, Allison excelled due to incredible reflexes, a fiery personality and game smarts, Robinson added.

Allison’s baseball acumen still suits him well, and he is hopeful the Mariners, under new manager Scott Servais, can qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2001.

“I really believe there is enough talent to be competitive in the American League West (Division),” said Allison, who grew up a Cincinnati Reds fan.

While Allison did not support Seattle as a kid, his grandmother was a Mariners’ fanatic and he recognizes the allegiance Alaskans still have for the club.

“I love it when Alaskans come down (for games),” Allison said.

Last year, Robinson met up with his childhood buddy for a spring training game in Arizona and received a tour of the locker rooms and training facilities.

“It was special for me just because we hadn’t seen each other for 25 years,” Robinson said. “The thing I walked away with is ‘It’s the same old Tom.’”

– By Matias Saari, ASHOF blog contributor