01/07/2013 10:00 AM
Chris Browne (Photo by Matthew Hicks.)
By ASHLEY DUNKAK
Growing up in Kansas City, Chris Browne’s original career plan involved being the next George Brett. When that did not pan out, he decided being a broadcaster, the voice of the team, would also be a good gig. But over his years as a batboy for the Kansas City Royals, someone else made a more lasting impression on Browne: the man who was then the general manager for the Royals, John Schuerholz.
“I kept seeing this guy who would come down after the game, or be there pre-game, or be on the field for batting practice, who was dressed all nice, and of course everybody gave him a lot of attention,” Browne recalls. “John got to pick the team, make the team, make trades. He was involved in everything, talked to the fans, had some say in the marketing, picked out the championship rings. Every day the broadcasters would bring the microphone to him and ask him questions, and I decided at that point that I didn’t want to be the guy asking questions. I wanted them to ask me questions.”
Entering his fifth season as the general manager for the T-Bones, Browne juggles a variety of duties. He collaborates with other staff members and makes decisions about stadium operations, sales and marketing, personnel, vendors and the baseball team itself. Needless to say, the job is never routine.
Browne has been a professional sports executive for 21 years, and his experience prepared him well for the general manager position. After seven years as a batboy and clubhouse attendant for the Royals, Browne worked as the director of stadium operations for the double-A Jacksonville Suns. Before becoming general manager of the T-Bones in 2008, the year the team won the Northern League championship, he served as assistant general manager, a position he’d had since the team came to Kansas City in 2002.
The key to success at any of those positions has been the same.
“This is a people business,” Browne said. “It doesn’t matter what the situation is, the person, the sponsor, the vendor; it all comes down to people and relationships with people. That’s how you accomplish things, through a personal relationship.”
Browne’s favorite part of the job falls right in line with the interpersonal interaction that is so necessary to do it.
“Teaching a young staff, trying to help them get through some times, give them some helpful hints and see them move onto the next level – that’s pretty darn fun,” he said. “Working in baseball itself is good. Now that I’ve been in baseball 21 years, maybe I can also give back to some of the people who helped me along the way and return that favor.”
From breaking ground on CommunityAmerica Ballpark in September 2002 to the inaugural first pitch in June 2003, from the Legends Game in 2006 to the retirement of Willie Wilson as a Kansas City player in 2009, to winning the league championship in 2008, Browne has many great memories of his time with the team.
“I think (Royals general manager) Dayton Moore has the best job in the city,” Browne says, “but I think I’ve got the second-best job.”