Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 21 No. 1
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

My first job in sports

Executives recall their first job in the industry

Mike Stanfield is entering his 12th season with the Saints. Under his direction, the team has leased every Mercedes-Benz Superdome suite since the beginning of the 2008 season.

Stanfield, as a Clinton Giants assistant GM, took one of the few jobs in which you can end up on a trading card.
LOBBYING IN THE LOBBY: I got an internship with the Cincinnati Reds and was the assistant to the traveling secretary during spring training. I did that for one season and I learned the way to get a job was by going through baseball winter meetings. So I stood in the lobby with a suit on and passed out résumés and talked to anyone who would talk to me. I got interviewed by Dr. Bernie Mullin for the [Pittsburgh] Pirates and also by the Clinton Giants. Bernie hired me at the winter meetings, but before I started I got a call from the Clinton Giants asking me to be the assistant GM. I called Bernie and he said to go for it and “find what you want to do in sports.”

THE MORE YOU SELL …: That year I was given the yellow pages and told to go sell some program ads, billboard signs, promotional dates. I needed to eat. I wasn’t making very much money, and I realized the more I sold the more I could enjoy myself. You do a lot of networking even at that level. I had no clue there was a whole business side to sports and how important that was in the generating of revenue. I just knew going to a game was a cool thing.

IT'S THE SHIRT: I remember being given my first shirt [as an intern], and I always remember that today when I see people starting in the business. When I put that Cincinnati Reds shirt on, I thought that was the coolest thing in the world. I wasn’t just buying a team shirt, I was putting it on and there I was working for the team.

RUN IT UP THE FLAGPOLE: I was standing for the national anthem at the first game at Clinton, and I was near the president of the team. I was so proud. We’d worked so hard to get everything up and running. Then [the announcer] said, “Please stand for the playing of the national anthem.” The only problem was, I had forgotten to put the flag up.

See also: Jeff Purser, executive director, Toshiba Classic