Back in April of 2006 I was on my way down to Cardinals stadium for what was about to be my first time sitting in the GM’s box for a game. As I drove down to the stadium I eagerly anticipated sitting the box for what I thought would be a very relaxing and enjoyable evening of socializing with the “A list” crowd of St Louis. I imagined big leather couches and chairs, elegant food and drink menus, and an overall high end experience of baseball. I called my good friend Terry McGinn who played baseball in college and bragged to him about what I was about to experience.
Before the game began Barry Weinberg, the Cardinals head athletic trainer showed me around the clubhouse and then ushered me out to the field to watch batting practice. Watching the players do their thing up close and personal was very cool, and I am still amazed at how talented the players are.
I was then asked to head upstairs to the box for a meeting. I thought, “Meeting, yeah right like we are going to have a meeting during the game.” I walked into the suite to find a total of four other people present. This didn’t feel like the party I was expecting. Red Schoendienst (former Cardinal great and special assistant to the GM), Walt Jocketty (GM), John Mozeliak (assistant GM at the time), and Bruce Manno (former Director of Player Development) were those present.
First thing I noticed were the lights, fluorescent bright and sterile, and where were the leather couches? I could only see desks facing the field with stiff desk chairs. As I settled in to my assigned seat the meetings began (and yes the game was being played). There was no cheering, no socializing and no relaxing. It really was work. When the game ended so did our meeting, and then everyone headed home for the night.
When I got back in my car, I felt compelled to call my friend Terry again and let him know it was the least fun I had ever had at a baseball game. I probably should have known better, a team does not become as successful as the St Louis Cardinals any other way.
These days when I go to the games and have the honor of sitting in the suite I usually laugh a little to myself at how naïve I was the first time there. I am also amazed at just how much effort it really takes to succeed at this level. You don’t get to be the best in the world by sitting laying around on leather couches and eating hot dogs and nachos. Hey what can I say, we all have a lot to learn.