Curve GM balancing family with new job
Derek Martin took over as the Altoona Curve’s new general manager in October, after being away from professional baseball for nearly a decade.
Martin has spent the past few months acclimating to the new job, personally and professionally, and is getting set for the Curve’s season to begin in three weeks.
With the season approaching next month, he sat down for an interview with the Mirror last week.
Mirror: How has your life changed in the past couple of months since becoming GM?
Martin: It’s probably a little bit trickier at home, juggling daily life and my professional life. It’s finding a balancing act with three kids under 5 years old. I’ve learned very quickly that behind any successful businessperson, there is a magical, passionate, loving woman behind that person. My wife truly is that. She supports and shares the vision that I have.
Mirror: Balancing family and work, what is your typical day like?
Martin: My wife takes our two boys and gets them ready for school, and I get our 11-month-old daughter ready for school and drop her off. I try to get into the stadium by 7:30 in the morning, and I typically leave between 6:30 and 7 in the evening. So thank goodness for FaceTime with the iPhone.
Mirror: A career in minor league baseball really is a life of its own, so how do you and your wife balance things so you can spend time with each other and your kids?
Martin: We’re still learning that, still trying to get better at the balancing act. The first year in this position has a lot of learning curves in it. But it’s making the most of the time that Abby and I have together and the kids.
Mirror: How much did you learn being away from minor league baseball all those years that you can now use to help you as a minor league executive?
Martin: Professionally, being away made me realize more about time management, when to spend the time on certain items. Before, I would probably waste a lot of time. But as I matured with age, I learned to categorize those into what things need a little more bit more time and consideration than other things.
Mirror: You’ve had some good times and bad times in your career in baseball, so how much have all of those experiences helped you for this position you’re in now?
Martin: Words can’t describe how much those have helped me. Actually, the times that were bad have helped me more than the times that were good. It makes you really treasure when things are going right, and to really treasure those moments that aren’t successful times because the other ones really outweigh and stick in your mind. Like, maybe this wasn’t done right, this wasn’t the way that I wanted things portrayed, and you really try to look at those things and make those better.
Mirror: What are your top goals for your first year as GM?
Martin: Nonprofits are very important to me and with what they do for our community, and I want to make sure that we are as connected as possible with the nonprofits and with the community. We have a good bridge already built with the Curve and the community, but that’s my way; I feel I can paint that bridge a little shinier.
Mirror: The Curve have been around since 1999, so what new things do you hope to bring to the franchise during your tenure?
Martin: I’m kind of looking at it as getting back to the basics, making sure that we are as involved as we can be in the community. That there isn’t a parade that goes by that doesn’t have the Curve represented, that there isn’t an event that goes by that there isn’t a basket from the Curve supporting it in some way. It’s just reaching out to the community to get them to come and enjoy the ballpark.
Mirror: Can the Curve bring attendance back up to the kind of numbers we once saw a decade or longer ago?
Martin: If you can keep the rain away — the last several years we have not been blessed with ideal weather, and weather plays a lot into it — but with the enthusiasm we have in the office right now, and we’re on a good road in the community and touching a lot of people, and if we keep that up, I’m not saying this year, but hopefully I can see us averaging 4,800 to 5,000 fans in a couple years, which would get us right around the 350,000 mark.
Mirror: Are you worried at all as the years go by that living in a small town with a franchise that’s been around a while, that fans may lose interest in the Curve?
Martin: That’s our job all offseason, as marketing specialists, on how to keep everything fresh, to bring in new ideas for the community and bring in things they haven’t seen before or haven’t seen in a while. We’ll be bringing some things back that worked 10-12 years ago that have gone by the wayside.
Mirror: What is your favorite thing about minor league baseball?
Martin: This is a memory-making business. My favorite thing is, I was here 10 years ago, and seeing the people coming to games that I knew, and now they are 24, 25 years old and have kids of their own and bringing them to the ballpark for the first time. I think that’s pretty cool.