Who can forget their first time going to a professional baseball game and seeing the pristine infield, vibrant green grass and the guys from your baseball cards in real life? As a kid growing up in Detroit, I followed the ’84 Tigers as they won the World Series with Trammell, Whitaker, Parrish, Morris and Kirk Gibson. I loved to play too, but realized as a teenager I probably wasn’t going to make it to the big leagues as a player. I remained a fan and at fifteen years old experienced one of the most memorable moments of my life. Attending game 1 of the 1988 World Series where Kirk Gibson (now with the Dodgers) hit one of the greatest home runs in the history of baseball.
I loved basketball too and played throughout high school, but again recognized a pro career seemed highly unlikely. Upon graduating from college I set my sites on the business side of sports. With a little networking, I found a two month job with the NBA Summer Pro League in Long Beach handling the merchandise sales. While there, I initiated a deal with a local sports bar & grill to provide food for the press room in exchange for advertising during the games. My first sponsorship deal!
The Summer League led to a position with the Lakers and then a sports marketing agency in Chicago working on brands such as Miller Beer and Sears. I returned to California on the property side as Director of Sales and Marketing for California Speedway (now Auto Club Speedway). I then spent ten years working in baseball for the Dodgers as Director of Corporate Partnerships and then as Vice President Western region for MLB Advanced Media (mlb.com). In 2010, I launched 88 Marketing with a focus on sponsorship and new media consulting. In addition, I conduct sponsorship training and serve as an adjunct professor for the University of San Francisco Sport Management program.
After 20 years in the industry, I feel very fortunate to have worked with some great people and attended many exciting sporting events. Most importantly, I met my wife while at the Dodgers who brilliantly came up with Gibson for our son’s middle name. Working in the sports business is a dream come true and I can’t imagine ever doing anything else.