John Hopkins broke into baseball in 1978. After working as a wire editor for the Shelby (N.C.) Daily Star, he joined the Shelby Reds of the Western Carolinas League in 1978. He became assistant general manager of the Greensboro Hornets of the WCL (later SAL) in 1979 and GM in 1982. In 1984, he was named president of the Carolina League. Under his tenure, the league has expanded geographically as far North as Delaware, and to the south into South Carolina.
What makes the Carolina League special?
It's our stability. We've had the same number of clubs for a long time, many of the same owners. We are old friends, looking forward to starting another season together.
Outside the Carolina League, what's your favorite Minor League ballpark?
I'd have to say Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, North Carolina.
Who is the best player you've seen come through the Carolina League?
I would have to say Barry Bonds. I think he played in 1985 for the Prince William Pirates, now known as the Potomac Cannons. He was tremendous right off the college campus, and not many guys can do that in the Carolina League.
What's the one initiative you'd like to see accomplished before your term ends?
I just don't want to mess up anything. That would be my biggest accomplishment. I inherited a league with a long history of stability, and I want to keep it that way.
What's your favorite offseason activity?
I spend a lot of time -- before and after the season -- on my boat. I love being out on the lake.
Being the league president is...
A lot of fun but it does have its moments.
What's the best thing about Minor League Baseball?
Price and accessibility.