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Milwaukee Talks: Admirals president Jon Greenberg

From bat boy to president of a pro sports franchise. That might seem like a fantasy story, but it's Jon Greenberg's life, after he recently was named president of the Milwaukee Admirals hockey franchise.

Greenberg started as a bat boy for the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1980s and worked his way up to public relations director. He was comfortable in a job he loved, but then Harris Turer, one of the Brewers' owners and the soon-to-be principal owner of the Admirals, gave him a call.

With that phone conversation, the 37-year-old Greenberg received a big promotion and inherited a bigger part of the responsibility for turning a proud franchise around. Turer says the deal might not have gone through if Greenberg had not accepted his offer to become president.

His former UWM journalism professor, Gregg Hoffmann, caught up with Greenberg in this latest Milwaukee Talks.

OMC: Describe how you received the offer to become the Admirals president.

JG: It was in spring training, and I had Harris (Turer) call me on the phone. I had known Harris for a long time, and he was one of our (Brewers) owners. He said he was going to be buying the Admirals, that he had put together a group and it definitely was going to happen. He wanted to have a president on board. I thought he was calling me to get some names of people who would be good choices. I was certainly willing to offer some people, but then he said, 'No, no, I want to talk to you about doing it.'

I had a long pause, as I tried to process that information, because it certainly was more than I had anticipated out of the phone call. I told him I was flattered. We talked about some things, and I saw it as a golden opportunity in my career.

OMC: A big jump for a former bat boy. How did you get into the Brewers' organization?

JG: I was the Brewers' bat boy in 1984-85 and 86. My dad and I went to spring training, just as a fan fun trip. I went to see Tom Skibosh and Mario Ziino (Brewers' PR people at the time) and told them I was interested in breaking into PR and was willing to help out. They remembered me as a bat boy.

I essentially volunteered because at that time they had no formal internships. I did it for six semesters. As I look back now, I realize what an opportunity I had, because under a formal internship I would probably have had one semester and moved on.

It got my foot in the door. At the same time, I was finishing up school. Thanks to Drew Olson (now Journal Sentinel baseball writer and a former UWM student with Greenberg) I was able to work at the newspaper for a year. I was able to see both sides of the process.

I learned a lot working for the Brewers and working through things that worked out positively and negatively. All the relationships I was able to build with the media and others. I think it gives me a great jumping off point here. By no means do I think I know everything at all. It's been a great learning experience here in the first two weeks.

OMC: You were PR director during the development of Miller Park. That had to be a challenge.

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