The Pawtucket Red Sox have cemented themselves as the premiere minor league baseball team in the New England area. This was not always the case as the team almost departed the region after only three seasons in Rhode Island. In 1977, on the verge of extinction, the team was purchased by retired businessman Ben Mondor who urged a then 25-year-old Mike Tamburro to work alongside him as President of the club.
Thirty three years later Tamburro is still helping to provide the best baseball experience for the PawSox and their fans. He stands as an example of how hard work, dedication and determination can bring success. During a recent phone call with, I mentioned his tenure to him, to which he chuckled with amazement and asked, “Has it been that long? I stopped counting years ago.”
Without missing a beat he went on to add, “When we started this we wanted to bring something new and innovative to the game. Our goal since Day 1 has been to provide quality, family entertainment at the lowest possible price. It hasn’t been easy. We have worked hard to get to this point.” The results are proof of the efforts made.
Since his arrival in Pawtucket, Tamburro and company have helped transform a team that was pulling in 70,000 fans per season to one that continuously breaks attendance records, including 7 straight seasons of over 600,000. He is quick to laud the strength and stability of the senior staff in the front office, explaining how, “most of us have been together for over 20 years and this is our success.”
He excitedly adds, “It truly is an all-out team effort. There is no individual success in this organization.” It is this attitude that helped turn a franchise on the brink of collapse into one of the most respected organizations in all of minor league baseball.
His day-to-day duties as President of the team consist of working closely with the departmental managers to ensure that things are running smoothly within each facet of the organization. He conducts weekly meetings with all department heads, providing direction and cohesion so that all of the pieces fit nicely within the whole of the team. Be it the manager of concessions or the manager of the ballclub, Tamburro’s main goal is to “ensure that all employees have the tools to make their department a success.”
His work has earned him numerous awards during his career. In 2008 he became the only person to win the International League’s Executive of the Year award on five separate occasions. “I just so happen to be the person in the position that they give the awards to,” Tamburro humbly states. He paused a moment and seemed hesitant to accept any direct praise thrown his way. “These awards are not an individual recognition. They symbolize the efforts of everyone within the organization.”
Since he has a proven track record as an executive, Tamburro has also been called upon for many other high level positions in the game. He is a member and the former Chairman of the Board for Minor League Baseball. He also balances his time as part of the Professional Baseball Executive Council and he serves as a Director for the International League.
The results that he and his staff have provided for the Paw Sox prove that hard work, determination and a dedication to improve each season are not just things that he talks about, but are things that he and his staff actually accomplish. One point he is quick to make is that “there are no shortcuts. You must take the long, hard way to succeed over time in this business.”
His overall tone tells the story of an extremely modest man who attributes all of his success to an overall, organizational effort. The sincerity that Tamburro exudes was noticeable throughout our conversation. It was a bit like talking with my dad about baseball. There was delight in just talking about the game itself and his being able to work around it every day has provided endless joy for him.
Whether he is hyping the brand new 22’x38’ video board at McCoy Stadium or talking fondly about his wife and two daughters, his friendly nature and exuberance shine through in all that he does and his excitement about the team is infectious. You can hear the pride in his voice when he speaks of the job that they have accomplished in Pawtucket. “But the work is never done,” Tamburro said, “You must continue to try and getter better every single year.”