Inside the Core: Drew Vertiz
“Inside the Core” is a month-long interview series with members of the Fresno Grizzlies front office. Each interview will be unique in its own way and provide a glimpse into the path each member has forged on their way to working for the club.
Did you play baseball as a kid?
I started playing baseball when I was probably six or seven years old and then played all the way until I was 16.
You weren’t one of those kids wanting to go to the Major Leagues?
I think every kid wants to be a professional baseball player or some kind of pro athlete.
You were born in Redwood City, California, so when did you move to Clovis?
What did you picture yourself doing outside of high school?
Something in sports. I wanted to be an agent when I was growing up, but then I realized how much law school you need for that so I rerouted into another direction. But, I always knew I wanted to do something in sports, whether it was youth sports or professional.
Did you have a role model growing up?
Growing up my favorite baseball player was Kevin McReynolds from the New York Mets. The Mets were my favorite team when I was a kid simply because McReynolds played outfield and I was an outfielder as a kid. He was probably the one I always looked up to as a kid growing up.
First part-time job?
My first job was at Wild Water Adventures. I was a catering cook making $4 an hour to work over a hot barbecue the entire summer. It was terrible!
You parlayed the teenage job into a full-time gig in radio. Where was your first radio job?
First radio marketing job was here in Fresno for KRZR and B95.
Being that it was your first job in radio, were you nervous to get in the studio?
No, you know what, it was one of those things where I did every job nobody wanted to do. I wanted to learn as much as I could so when someone said ‘I don’t want to do that’ or ‘I want to be on vacation’ I could step in and do it. And I kind of take the same route now that if someone doesn’t want to do something I’ll just do it myself and get it done because I want to learn more. Every day is a new opportunity for you to figure out how to do something new, whether it’s at work, a job assignment, or something else.
What led you to move to Las Vegas?
A radio marketing job. It was a big change. I was 24. It was pretty cool because I moved to a city that is 24 hours a day and never stops, and it truly never stops. But that’s where I started growing more of my passion with baseball because they had the Las Vegas 51s Triple-A team, and I was always going to their games for promotions and marketing. Between the job and attending games, it sparked my excitement in wanting to learn more about the business side of professional baseball.
The tough part about [Las Vegas] is the constant 24-hour cycle. With radio, you have events that don’t start until 2:00 a.m. so you’ll be working all day and you go home for a couple hours only to turn around and head back to work until 6:00 a.m.
What brought you back to Clovis?
My wife’s job transferred us back to Fresno. She’s from Fresno as well. Luckily, I was able to stay in sports marketing.
You latched on with ESPN Radio, right? How was that?
It was great. I worked for a really good guy who gave me an opportunity to learn a lot more about sports marketing. Working for ESPN, they provide a lot of tools that you don’t get anywhere else. It was always funny because you’d say oh I work for ESPN radio, and everybody’s thinking ‘Oh my god you work in Bristol, Connecticut?’ And it’s like no, I work here in Fresno and they’re like, ‘Oh how’s that work?’ And you have to explain to them that it’s a private owner that owns the affiliate here. But you know, when you up and say, you know I’m with ESPN radio, those four letters are like magic.
How has it been to be back living in Clovis where you grew up?
Um, very weird. My family now lives a half mile from where I grew up. It’s very, very weird to see that whole area when it was nothing and now how big and grown up it is.
We have to ask… where did you meet your wife?
I met her at Porky’s Bar and Grill (laughs). Classy establishment! I was doing a radio event there and we met by um, how do you say it, “cheersing” Corona bottles. Well, there’s always a dispute there. There’s still a dispute 14 years later but…
You two have a son and a daughter, but did you always picture having children?
I always wanted kids, at least two kids. I wanted three kids but we were blessed to have two kids, a boy and a girl, so it worked out really well.
What’s the defining moment in your life thus far?
Seeing my kids born was probably the coolest thing to ever see happen. Your first born comes and you think right away how much your life has changed. I freaked out when that happened. I had a panic attack that day; I was like what the hell is going on.
Do you and your wife do anything without the kids?
No, we’re very active in our kid’s lives whether it’s with school, extracurricular activities, baseball, soccer, or travel basketball. We’re doing these things all the time so we don’t really have a lot of time to ourselves. With my work here during the baseball season most of my summer is already spoken for. But I will tell you something, when you get into a relationship with someone, whether you work in baseball or radio, you have to find that person who understands the demands it’s going to be, because not everybody can handle being away from somebody for long periods of time. I think it’s better for our relationship that we’re not together all of the time. We’re both able to have time to ourselves and time with the kids. We make the most of all of the chances we get to spend as a family.
Those opportunities get a little tougher with the Minor League Baseball schedule. When you joined the Fresno Grizzlies in 2011, what position did you enter as?
I came in as VP of Marketing and since then I’ve taken over the operations and the team store aspects. Each year has presented new challenges, but I’m glad with the positive steps the organization has made in a short period of time.
Is there any time for summer vacations?
Usually at least one! The kids like going to Pismo. Two years ago we went to Phoenix to see Tombstone and the Grand Canyon. Last year we took them to the Triple-A All-Star game in Reno because I had to be up there for work and it was kind of a cool thing for them to accompany me on. They had a great time.
We learned your favorite TV show is Seinfeld. Ever have a Seinfeld moment with the Grizzlies?
I always feel like I’m George Costanza, I always feel that way. Working the different areas here there is always something happening or you’re seeing something that’s happening and it’s just like, how is this possibly happening?! There’s a Kramer here, there’s a Jerry here, and there’s definitely an Elaine Benes here. I think every character from Seinfeld works in this organization.
What’s a motto you live by?
Just don’t ever put yourself above anything. Don’t ever think you’re too good to do something. You know, just because you have a title and just because you’re at certain level with a company, you can always do things to help out others. Always follow your dreams and don’t ever have anybody tell you that you can’t do something. Lastly, always be family oriented.