Shari Massengill is the assistant general manager of the Gwinnett Braves. In her third year in the post, Massengill moved to Gwinnett County from her hometown of Kinston, N.C., where she had lived and worked her whole life working her way up from receptionist to general manager of the Class A Kinston Indians.
She talks with staff writer Ben Beitzel in the installment of "Getting to Know..." about pulling the trigger on moving her family out of North Carolina, she looks up what the article in Forbes on her was about and runs through the content of the refrigerator in her office.
BB: What would you say you do here?
SM: I don't know what the job description is. Anything from taking players to an appearance like we did (Thursday) morning to talking to Steve Goff (Braves assistant director of merchandizing) about what we are going to try to do Sunday to sales to managing people ... and ... (deep breath) ... meal money and ...
BB: So, a lot?
SM: It's a little bit of everything.
BB: How tough is it to get players to do the events, with the early mornings and their schedules and very little down time?
SM: In general, yes. Getting players to go somewhere is sometimes difficult. I came from single-A so it was a lot easier. When they are younger guys they will do anything for $25. Here, some of them are making more money, some of them have been in the big leagues, maybe they don't have enough time or they have kids and families and I understand that. But, we need to get them out there.
BB: As much as you've done it, you probably have a better sense for what a player's appearance means to a random fan then even the player does.
SM: Exactly, I take it for granted, I've been doing this for 15, 16, 17, however many years it's been now. I have always been around people that are now more famous than they used to be. It's just the business we are in. We can't just be, 'Oh, my God, it's Freddie Freeman.' (These people) are overwhelmed.
BB: I didn't realize Kinston, where you came from, was your hometown.
SM: Oh yeah, born and raised there. That's probably why I was there for forever.
BB: So coming here, was like leaving home.
SM: It was a huge difference. I pretty much fell into this kind of work that I do know anyway by accident, let's say. For me to get where I was and I was comfortable there. I started out as a receptionist, honestly. ... I started answering the phones or whatever. The next thing I know they are asking me to do some groups and some pictures and then I am like, 'What a minute, now I can't just work 9 to 5 so I can make sure this picnic gets what they need and this group gets what they need.' It just transpired from there. I started doing sales and then I was the (assistant general manager) and with (G-Braves general manager) North (Johnson) left, I was the GM there for six years and then I moved here. He had called me a year after he was here and asked, 'Would you be interested in coming here?' I was like 'I-I-I-I don't think so.' It took a good six months.
BB: Well, this must be quite different than single-A?
SM: There were like four full-time people. Four interns through the season. I hired about 100 people game-day wise. We owned our concessions so we did our own concessions. Any number of nights I would be in a concessions stand running a cash register, frying chicken tenders or fries, in the ticket office, a ticket booth is what we had. We only had like three windows. The thing about Kinston that I miss the most is I can't do all of those things. Sometimes it's like, 'Man, I really want to go in there and wrap a hot dog tonight.'
BB: It still couldn't have been easy to move your family with a daughter, Reagan, in high school especially.
SM: My first year here was probably the hardest year of my entire career. North kept telling me, 'Shari, it's a transition.' My son (Miles) is now 8, but he was in kindergarten when we moved. He didn't care. Now, my daughter was in ninth grade when we moved. She was angry. She likes North, that was about the only thing.
BB: North isn't in high school with her.
SM: That was the hardest part for me was dropping my 15-year-old daughter off at high school with 4,000 kids when she came from a high school with 1,200. Bless her heart, she knew no one. I think I cried on the way back to work that day. Not because I left my kindergartener there, but it was a ninth-grader. She hasn't really gotten involved in that many things, but the thing about Miles is he's involved in every sport.
BB: Growing up were you a softball player?
SM: I played softball as a child, but no. It might have been a year at the most. I was a cheerleader all throughout high school. Baseball, it never crossed my mind. It was a 9 to 5 job.
BB: Do you like baseball now?SM: I love it. I don't usually sit down and watch a game unless it's a small crowd. Generally, I don't watch a game. Last year we went to two or three big Braves games. I am more of a college basketball fan. Carolina Tar Heels is my team. Baseball, I have learned to love the game. I probably don't know as much as I should. I hate Duke though.
BB: You were named Carolina League executive of the year and have plenty of honors, I hear you were in Forbes magazine.
SM: (reluctant) Yes.
BB: What was it about?
SM: I don't know.
BB: You know.
SM: (laughing) I don't know. Women in baseball, women in baseball, I think. There's a funny quote in here that I said, you can look at it. (Flipping through the pages). This is really what's funny about it. (reading): "Massengill doesn't ever expect to leave Kinston." I never saw myself in the position so I definitely don't see myself going some place else."' I don't know what the title of the article is.
BB: (flipping back) It's an article on women executives in baseball. Cool.
SM: It's not cause I have money. I don't like attention. I just am who I am.
BB: Well, you have a sizable mini-fridge in here, what's in it?
SM: (laughs) I have a bottle of ketchup. I have some almond milk. I have some molded vegetables (laughs). Right now I need to go get some waters, because I am out. Right now, that's it. I really like ketchup, but I am trying to be more healthy so...