Theo Epstein was tabbed World's Greatest Leader by Fortune magazine, which published its annual list on Thursday morning.
The Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations found himself atop a list that included Alibaba founder Jack Ma (No. 2), Pope Francis (No. 3), Melinda Gates (No. 4) and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (No. 5).
"The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles," Fortune wrote of its decision to select Epstein. "... But most important of all was the evolution of the club's president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he'd had with the Boston Red Sox."
Epstein did his best to put his gaudy new "title" in perspective in a text to ESPN's Buster Olney.
"Um, I can't even get my dog to stop peeing in the house. That is ridiculous. The whole thing is patently ridiculous," Epstein wrote. "It's baseball -- a pastime involving a lot of chance. If (Ben) Zobrist's ball is three inches farther off the line, I'm on the hot seat for a failed five-year plan. And I'm not even the best leader in our organization; our players are."
Epstein, 43, previously built the 2004 Red Sox team that ended that club's 86-year championship drought before guiding the club to another title in 2007.
He took over in Chicago ahead of the 2012 season, and the Cubs endured three more losing years before making the playoffs in 2015.
Chicago took a major step up the following season, going a baseball-best 103-58 before besting the Cleveland Indians in seven games to end the club's 108-year World Series title drought.