Denlinger Has Fun Leading GreenJackets
By Gary Kauffman
When Tom Denlinger started college, he had to make a choice — play sports or find another avenue to fulfill his passion for sports. His decision eventually led him to Augusta five years ago to serve as general manager for the Augusta GreenJackets. Last season, he was promoted to vice president of the team.
Denlinger grew up in the country outside Paradise, Pa., near Philadelphia. He cheered for the Phillies and played baseball (shortstop and outfield) and soccer in high school. But he decided against playing those sports while attending Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pa.
“I’m a huge sports fan,” he said. “Baseball and soccer are my huge passions. But I realized in college that if I wanted to stay in sports I had to find another way than playing it.”
After changing majors several times, Denlinger finally landed on sports management. He was in the first class to graduate with that major from Messiah College.
But it was the internship that he had the summer after college graduation that started him on his current career path. That summer he interned for the Reading Phillies, the Double-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.
“I got to dip my toe into it and got hooked,” Denlinger said.
After that, he served in group and sponsorship sales for the Delmarva Shorebirds, the Single-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, and then as assistant general manager with the Daytona Cubs (then the Chicago Cubs’ Advanced Single-A affiliate).
“I was at the beach for the first six years of my adult life,” Denlinger said with a laugh.
In 2010 he was presented with a new challenge — helping bring baseball back to Richmond, Va.
The city had hosted the Triple-A affiliate of the Braves since the team made the move from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966. But after the 2008 season, the team packed up and relocated in Georgia’s Gwinnett County.
After living without baseball in 2009, Richmond became the home of the San Francisco Giants’ Double-A team in 2010. The newly created Flying Squirrels offered Denlinger the job of assistant general manager.
“That was a big challenge, bringing a team back after not being there for a year,” he said.
Several years later, he took the job as general manager of the GreenJackets, the Single-A club serving the Giants. Last summer, with the prospect of organizing a move to a new park, he was promoted to vice president, and Brandon Greene became general manager.
Serving as a minor league general manager and vice president isn’t exactly a glamorous job. Before games, Denlinger can often be spotted helping get the field ready and scurrying around the stadium to take care of myriad details before the first pitch. Fifteen-hour days are not unusual in the world of a minor league executive.
“We get here at 8:30-9 in the morning and leave around 11 or midnight,” he said. “And then we’re back to do it again the next morning.”
There’s more than baseball involved in the job. He also coordinates other events at the stadium, such as concerts, or helps other groups coordinate their events.
“You can go from one event to a completely different event the next night,” he said. “You have to plan in advance and keep an eye on the calendar. It keeps you on your toes, that’s for sure.”
But it appeals to Denlinger because he enjoys organizing live events.
“I’m an events person,” he said. “I’m able to be outside, and the social aspect is a big part of it, too.”