SBJ/Aug. 12-18, 2013/People and Pop Culture

My Start In Sports — Martie Cordaro

Cordaro at far left in 1999 as a member of the Class AA West Tenn Diamond Jaxx staff and on the mound (below) at the Storm Chasers’ Werner Park.
Photos: COURTESY OF MARTIE CORDARO
I went to the baseball winter meetings in Nashville
, and went through a job fair. I was fortunate to get several job offers. At that time, I was not thinking about doing anything else. [Before baseball, Cordaro was a drummer in a band called Stonybridge.]

Everyone thinks they’re pretty smart when they get their first job, but I didn’t know what I was getting into.

No outfield sign gets viewed unless there’s
someone sitting in the stands. Group sales are at the core of things; it’s how the community gets engaged.

We started with a staff meting on a Monday morning, Jan. 4, 1999. I knew no one. … The GM, David Hersh, stood up and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to be 0-140 this year.” I thought, “Golly, I didn’t realize we would be that bad.” But I also knew that MiLB is about entertainment and fun. He went on to say that it’s about how cold the beer is and how warm the hot dogs are and how many laughs we get from our promotions. And if we win, that’s a bonus.

You prepare the ballpark every night, whether it’s Friday or Monday, and you put on the same show. It’s like inviting 5,000 of your closest friends over to your house.

I was naïve. I didn’t understand all the ins and outs and how much I would be told no. I was humbled a lot.

In my first year, we had a lobster tail giveaway with the local fish market. We needed a vehicle to transport tails from the market to the game. I had a Jeep Cherokee, so I raised my hand. The tails were in coolers, so no big deal. After seven or eight trips, with the tails in Styrofoam boxes inside large cardboard boxes, the smell just became awful. It was a 100-degree day, and those tails were just sloshing around in that Jeep. Every June, I wonder who has that Jeep and if they can smell the lobster.

I’m not an enjoy-the-moment kind of guy. It’s always about the next challenge, the next opportunity, how we improve, how we make it better. I had been in group sales and then I was promoted to director of sales for the club. I started to think, “OK, I’ve got a decent chance for a career in baseball.” It was becoming a career.

In late April 1999, there was a situation where some suite clients wanted to see me. They had no food. When I began checking, I met [my wife] Sara, who was working for Ovations, our caterer, to put herself through college. Three months later, we started dating. It took 90 days for me to get the courage to ask her out.

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