Bradenton Downtown Development Authority’s Mike Kennedy learned his management skills working for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“In 1992, while a sophomore at Mt. Lebanon High School in Pittsburgh, I was a batboy and clubhouse assistant for the Pittsburgh Pirates. I made sure all the players had everything they needed on the bench. I helped set up a comfortable atmosphere in the clubhouse and made sure the players had safe equipment and clean uniforms. In 1995 and 1997, as a student at Duquesne University, I served as an assistant for the Pirates’ equipment manager and was an intern in the media relations department. Then I joined the Pirates full time as a media relations assistant. In 1999, I moved to Manatee County, where I served as director of Florida operations for the Pirates. I managed the business and facility operations for major league spring training at McKechnie Field and was responsible for the year-round operations at Pirate City.
“A year later, I realized I had developed a passion for community work, so I took a job as executive director for Habitat for Humanity in Manatee County. When the executive director position opened up at the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority, several people encouraged me to apply for the job.
“My years with the Pirates taught me budgeting, communications and human resources. [The job] introduced me to community issues and leaders. Working with the Pirates allowed me to interact with different personalities, from the players to the fans. Since I dealt with the media a lot, it helped me deal with the media at the Downtown Development Authority.
“I have several friends who still work for the Pirates. The misconception is that everybody who works for the league makes a lot of money, but it’s the players who make all the money. The love of the game motivated the people I worked with. There were probably 20 million people who wanted to be in our shoes.
“My wife, Jackie, and I are still spring training ticket holders; we’re still huge baseball fans.”