Billy Beane is a former Major League player and the current general manager and minority owner of the Oakland Athletics of the American league. As a player he won the World Series twice during a five-year career in the big leagues, once with the Minnesota Twins in 1987 and once more with the Oakland Athletics in 1989. However, despite being a highly regarded prospect as a high school student Billy never made it as much more than a bench player in the major leagues. After the 1989 season he took a front office job with the Athletics and moved up through the organization to eventually become the team's general manager in 1997.
As the general manager, he helped the team become one of the most competitive organizations in major league baseball despite the tight financial limitations the Oakland market placed upon the team. Major League Baseball has no salary cap on its teams, and the limits given to player bonuses in the amateur draft are merely suggestions, so the larger market teams are able to pursue more expensive talent far more easily than teams like the Athletics. Once in charge of the team, Beane sought to exploit inefficiencies in the market for baseball players. He did things like signing or trading for players that no other team was willing to pursue due to some perceived flaw with the player's makeup, and applying the principles of sabermetrics towards determining the value of a player. While these are not precise methods of finding the best players, they allowed a small-market team like the Athletics to find the most cost-effective team available to them and remain in contention even as other organizations outspent them.
The A's would see increasing success under Beane and made the playoffs twice in a row starting by winning the Wild Card in 2000 and the AL West division in 2001. This attracted the attention of the authors of the book "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game," who wanted to take a closer look at how the A's could improve every year despite their limited resources. They spent the 2002 season following members of the team and the front office as they once again won the West division despite the team's low payroll. Beane himself got a great deal of coverage in the book, even though it was written about the organization as a whole and not just him. The book even went as far as to cover the process by which he was drafted and brought up through the minor leagues and his struggles once he reached the majors, to demonstrate the traits that scouts saw in Beane which could be overvalued in players and the bad traits in him which were overlooked while he began to flounder. When it was published it created a great deal of controversy within baseball. Beane himself became a subject of greater attention for his methods. While many rejected the ideas his office put forth in evaluating players and building a team every year, many of the ideas he used were accepted by other baseball executives and are now commonplace in Major League Baseball.
After winning the West one more time in the 2006 season, the A's are rebuilding under Beane once again. He signed a contract to remain the general manager of the team until the 2012 season, at the same time being awarded a small stake in it by current A's owner Lew Wolffe.