TORONTO - Over and over Paul Beeston was asked if he would consider removing the interim tag by his title as CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays, and each time the answer was no regardless of who was posing the question.
Team owner Rogers Communications Inc., asked. Colleagues and friends asked. Media asked. Even baseball commissioner Bud Selig said he'd like to see him stay.
This past weekend Beeston finally relented, choosing to accept a three-year term as president and CEO of the Blue Jays and Rogers Centre that was announced Tuesday.
His decision comes after a "very honest, straightforward and exhaustive search" for a successor to Paul Godfrey never got to the point where an offer was extended to any candidate, and Beeston had become so tied in he couldn't really walk away.
"I was prepared to turn this over," Beeston said in an interview. "It's only been in the last kind of month where I've said if I'm going to be here and I'm going to be in some role, which everyone seems to think I would have been in, I might as well do it the best I can."
With a president and CEO at long last in place, and Alex Anthopoulos entrenched as general manager after being promoted by Beeston last month following the firing of J.P. Ricciardi, the Blue Jays are finally in position to begin charting a long-term path forward.
The team had essentially been spinning its wheels in the mud since last fall, when Godfrey walked away and Beeston took over on an interim basis, unwilling to put too much in place lest he saddle his successor with commitments he didn't want.
That's not the case now, as the temporary nature of the front office is gone and a real plan can be executed. The players in the clubhouse will be glad to hear that, with perhaps no one as interested in the news as Roy Halladay.
The ace right-hander met with Beeston last week and his future remains to be determined.
"Hopefully Roy will take not (of the hiring)," Beeston said. "Maybe he'll say No! No!"
On a more serious note, Beeston acknowledged having the front office set will help the team go about its business.
"People know there is going to some stability here, some continuity, there will be a philosophy that can be put forward with conviction, with an understanding that the person giving it is going to be around," said Beeston.
"For me to say this is what we're going to do, I'm sorry I'm leaving, they might believe that but they won't really believe it until they know who's there."
As for establishing the team's long-term plan, Beeston said that will happen over the next two weeks. He'll be meeting with Anthopoulos and his staff with the goal of having everything in place for the Nov. 9-11 general managers meetings in Chicago.
"I know generally what they are thinking, what they think is the direction to go, but I think it's fair to say, now that it's been announced, we will have a bit more of a formal discussion," said Beeston.
Beyond that, Beeston believes the business side of the team is set and he has no immediate plans to add any staff on that side of the franchise.
Down the road he'd like to hire someone to work alongside him that can be groomed to take over, but the bigger concern is the continued buildup of the team's baseball operations and scouting staffs.
"We've got a good business group here now, we have a good general manager, he's surrounding himself with good people," he said. "We want to be a place where people want to work."
That approach would be in following the footsteps of longtime club executive Peter Hardy, who Beeston praised as a mentor.
Beeston was the first employee hired by the Blue Jays in May 1976 and saw the team through its glory years in the 1980s and '90s. He left to serve as chief operating officer in Major League Baseball's commissioner's office in 1997, serving in the role until 2002, and now he'd like to re-establish the family atmosphere the team had in the past.
"He knew how you ran and how you treated people," Beeston said of Hardy. "I think this is a good group of guys to work with, have some fun and hopefully enjoy the rewards of some of the risks that are going to put in front of us."
Many people will be happy Beeston will be leading the way.
"I have a lot of faith in Paul Beeston," Selig said in an interview with The Canadian Press in August. "I wish he'd stay there a long time, that's how much faith I have in him."
The same goes for the people at Rogers, who relentlessly worked on Beeston to take the job permanently.
"While we interviewed a number of highly qualified individuals for the position, Paul's unique set of qualities made him our clear first choice," Tony Viner, president and CEO of Rogers Media, the division in charge of the team, said in a statement. "While Paul was initially appointed on an interim basis, he approached the role with his usual high energy and conviction to set the club up for success - something he's now committed to do for the long term.
"We are thrilled that we were able to convince Paul Beeston to take on this role."