If you’ve ever seen the 1989 Academy Award nominated movie Field of Dreams, then you remember the scene when Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner, plowed under his corn to make room for a baseball field. His neighbors thought he had lost his mind — imagine what you would think if you saw your neighbor burning his paycheck on his front lawn — but Ray trusted the voice from his cornfield that promised, “If you build it, they will come.”
And come they did. It’s no wonder: Since ancient times, coliseum bleachers have shook with the cheering of crowds; communities have huddled together on metal stadium seats under Friday night lights at kickoff; arenas have echoed with reverberating roars as bands take the stage. The experience of joining together as one voice in a united chorus during a live event is nearly spiritual, and it will only cost you the price of admission. That’s where Derek Herron comes in.
Since January of this year, Derek has acted as Group Sales Executive for the Augusta GreenJackets, a Class A minor league baseball team with a pipeline to the San Francisco Giants. A key component of his job is to fill the stands through ticket sales to local businesses and/or individuals. Although he moved from Atlanta for the position and has held it for less than a year, the fact that his roots stem from 20 miles up I-20 in Aiken, South Carolina, allows him to tap into his connections. “It’s good to have a local boy in the office,” he says with a laugh.
Derek holds an MBA from Texas Tech and a bachelor’s degree in management and economics from Presbyterian College, both which primed him for the business of baseball. His education included classes on sports business ethics, sports law, and psychology in sports. An accomplished athlete himself (he played outfield during undergrad at PC), Derek realized that crunching numbers in a baseball office would ultimately be more fulfilling for him than crunching numbers in a corporate office. He worked diligently as an intern both at PC and Texas Tech in the schools’ compliance offices, processing paperwork for student athletes, organizing records, and interpreting a decade’s-worth of documents to reorganize a database by bylaws. He also worked in the ticket office as a graduate student, processing season tickets and supporting the staff on game day.
These experiences primed him for a job with the Atlanta Hawks as a Membership Associate in 2013. There he reached out to employers and clients to find the best ticket package to meet their needs. “It was common for me to make 100 calls a day,” he recalls. His work paid off, and he led a team of sixteen sales reps in revenue in 2014 – 2015.
It’s not hard to imagine some of the perks related to working for a professional sports organization. Derek says, “I’m just walking around doing my job, and there’s a baseball game going on.” But it’s more than getting to meet the players and staff or the opportunities to access the courtside or the locker rooms. “I can hear the cheers as I work, and I feed off that energy,” he says. “I look around and there are families sitting together or friends having a beer — memories are being created and I know that somehow I helped provide that opportunity.”