As the Padres' assistant GM, Barr will oversee the team's contract negotiations, and the scouting and minor-league departments, where he has a solid background.
"This is a great opportunity for advancement," said Barr, who recently moved his family to Southern California. "The San Diego organization has excellent potential, and the management is committed to winning."
The rapid rise to his new position does not impress Barr. He says that all he cares about is helping develop the Padres into a National League and World Series champion.
"My goal is to be involved with teams that win pennants," said Barr, who got his first professional baseball job in 1984 with the New York Mets. "I don't have any immediate personal goals - just to be a part of a winner, and that's what I hope to be a part of in San Diego."
Barr has assisted in helping two major-league teams make big turnarounds.
As an assistant scout in the Mets' minor-league department from 1984 to 1988, he helped develop the talent that enabled the Mets win National League and World Series championships in 1986, and a National League East crown in 1988. Barr was hired by McIlvaine, who was then the Mets' vice president of player personnel.
Barr left the Mets in 1988 to become the Minnesota Twins' East Coast scouting supervisor, a post he held for less than one year before he moved on to a more attractive job in Baltimore.
He went to the Orioles in October 1988 as the director of scouting, and restructured the team's scouting department. He was responsible for drafting Louisiana State University pitcher Ben McDonald in 1989. McDonald went 8-5 this season for the Orioles.
Barr also was responsible for drafting the Orioles' top pick, Mike Mussina, of Williamsport, Pa., this year. Mussina is considered a promising pro prospect.
"I consider my work with the Orioles my best work so far," Barr said. "I take pride in having restructured their scouting department. It was in disarray when I arrived there, and now they have some decent talent in their farm system, and some excellent scouts."
When McIlvaine was named Padres general manager early this month, he immediately requested permission from the Orioles to talk to Barr. Less than a week later, Barr was on his way to San Diego, to a promising position and to be reunited with his friend.
Orioles GM Roland Hemond, for one, was sorry to see Barr leave his club.
"John is an outstanding young man with a lot of ability and a bright future in baseball," Hemond said. "The type of opportunity he was offered is one where he could move ahead. He has the potential to become a general manager one day."
At Audubon High, where he graduated in 1975, Barr led the Green Wave to a Group 2 state championship in baseball in his senior season. He played first base under former coach Hank Greenberg.
Barr was also a fine basketball player at forward, helping the Green Wave to a pair of sectional playoff appearances.
He played baseball for four years at Rider College in Lawrenceville, N.J., and graduated from Rider in 1979. He then worked for three years as a stockbroker in Houston.
He met McIlvaine while working in Houston, and eventually accepted a job in the Mets' front office.
"All of my life, I've wanted to be a part of major-league baseball," Barr said. "When Joe (McIlvaine) made me the offer to come to the Mets, I jumped at it. I took quite a pay cut to leave my broker's job to work for the Mets, but it was worth it. It's been a lot of fun, and hopefully, it will get even better."