Senior VP/GM Augusto"Cookie"Rojas - New Orleans Baby Cakes
Augusto, it is great to finally connect. I know that the season is over now and you seem to be a man who is always involved with something. Let’s start with how you ended up in the business of sports. When and where did it all start? I started off recognizing I was unhappy working in the legal field. I happened to fall upon a Sports and Law Seminar at Suffolk Law School and there I saw several alumni who worked in sports. That was my moment when I realized I could do this. I went to the library and found a book called “the 50 Coolest Jobs in Sports” by David Fischer. I then did informational interviews, 133 of them over 3 years. My last one was with the GM of the Pawtucket Red Sox and he hired me that day to be an usher and that’s how I started in sports as an usher for my hometown team. I slowly moved through the organization, from Usher to Box office, to Group Sales to Corp Sales to General Sales Manager of the team.
Your career path has been interesting, ranging from a law degree, being an adjunct professor and sports executive. They all seemed to lined up with sports. As you started out, what were some key factors that helped you make your career moves? As you know Augusto, many people want to work in the sports business. Share your thoughts if you may. I had a plan to work in pro football so that led me to make professional decisions to pursue opportunities that aligned with a route to a position with a team. I worked for the United Way the #1 charity for the NFL and that eventually led to my ability to sell in sports, if I could raise money for the UW I could certainly sell experiences for groups and companies to go to baseball games. After working in sports, baseball in particular, you generally fall in love w/ the game and that’s what led me to a desire to stay in baseball.
You have carved a very nice niche in Minor League Baseball. I read recently that Minor League Baseball reached nearly 40.5 million in attendance this year. That is pretty amazing and of course you contributed with your work with the New Orleans Baby Cakes. Tell us about your duties there as a senior executive . As a GM for a MiLB team I don’t pick the players instead I oversee the business side of the operation, sales, tickets, groups, Corp partnerships etc. I work closely with all the departments to ensure we are able to give the fans a wonderful, family friendly, affordable entertainment experience and to help the players entrusted to us by the Marlins, to play in front of good crowds on a field that is MLB worthy so they can achieve their dream of playing in the Major Leagues.
Sports over the years has become heavily focused on the “fan experience.” How much does that play your role in developing a fan base, ticket sales, repeat customers, etc? I work with our sales and marketing team to ensure our fans have a great experience when they come to the park. We can’t control what happens on the field but we can control what our fans, see, smell, touch and taste when they come to the park. Therefore ensuring their senses are met with great vistas, hear the sounds of the game and the crowd, smell and taste the great food at the park and get a chance to touch a give-away item, or a ball from the field is what matters to us and that’s what we try to do 70 games a year. Our effort is to have fans come at least twice every season to a game and enjoy the experience.
You are the Triple A affiliate for the Miami Marlins. You have set a certain culture there with the Baby Cakes. Does that same culture resonate with the Marlins as well, or work your market and innovate independently? The Marlins are now under the leadership of Derek Jeter and he wants to win. It’s a totally different environment where their goal is win a championship. Our goal here is to give fans a wonderful experience and to help develop players for the Marlins, and that those players eventually help the Marlins win that championship! I really can’t speak about their culture, as I am focused on what we have here with our staff.
With all that is going on with you professionally, how do you make sure that you have some down time for yourself to keep fresh? I have been married for 25 years and thankfully my wife helps keep me even keeled. She has been my rock for a LONG TIME, Family help to refresh you. I am also a long distance runner, movie person and book person. When I am not in the office I am either running half marathons or training for one, or at the movies seeing all kinds of movies or documentaries or reading books usually a biography or sales oriented books.
Well Augusto, we have to talk about one more thing that you have added to your plate.....author. Tell us about your involvement with “The GM’s Handbook” and how that came about? Where can our audience get it? I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Troy Kirby for his podcast and was blessed to be asked to write a chapter in his book. It was truly an honor.
Augusto, I am attending a Baby cakes game for the first time. What food or snack I must have before the night is over? You will need to have a some Red Beans and Rice, or Jambalaya or our Baby Cake Burger!
It’s been fun Augusto! How can someone contact you? I am on linked in or you can find me on twitter or Instagram @TheCookieRojas
Thanks for hanging out with us. Thank you!