Mickey's Mail - 4/4/18
One of my Dad’s favorite expressions was “Life is Serendipity”. To me that always meant that life is full of unpredictable twists and turns. And he was, of course, right about that. Twenty-two years ago, I was afforded the opportunity to be the principal investor in what was to become the Bridgeport Bluefish Professional Baseball Club. I had been the founding CEO of Physicians Health Services twenty years earlier and could sense that some big changes were about to occur in my life.
Within two years, PHS had been sold, and I moved my office into the Ballpark at Harbor Yard during that magical inaugural year of the Bluefish. I loved everything about that team and sensed I might be a “minor league baseball mogul” for much of the rest of my life. Not to be. I never could have predicted I would sell the team ten years later and would lead two more health plans over the decade that followed that. And I certainly never foresaw the marvelous opportunity I would get nearly two years ago to lead the Bridgeport Regional Business Council.
Sunday morning, I opened the Connecticut Post and read editor Mike Daly’s marvelous column called “The Bluefish, a Single and a Rally”. And all my memories of that team came flooding back to me. I loved it when Mike referred to a wealthy suburban friend who told him how he had brought his family to a Bluefish game and how great his experience was. Mike said at that moment that he “felt the earth’s axis shift slightly. And Bridgeport’s axis shifted dramatically”. His point was that the Bluefish brought people to Bridgeport from the suburbs, “no easy feat in 1998”.
He credited the mayor, my co-founders of the team, and me with hitting “singles that brought life into this old city”, but it was his last two sentences that got to me: “The Bluefish are gone. Long live the amphitheater”. That’s the serendipity my Dad talked about. I am trying very hard to be as positive as I can be about what the Ballpark at Harbor Yard is about to become. At the BRBC, our primary mission is to promote job growth and increased tax revenue for our region. Here’s hoping, really hoping, the amphitheater will do just that.
But part of me will always believe that those halcyon early years of the Bluefish were quintessentially “Bridgeport”. Our amazingly diverse ball team, complemented by the incredibly diverse crowds of people who crowded into the ballpark 70 times a year for a zany, frolicking good time. Admission tickets as cheap as $5, with even the best seats no more than $15, we were all about affordable family entertainment that ideally suited this great city.
Will a new entertainment facility with an average ticket price of $65 work for the South End of Bridgeport? Perhaps. I hope so, but I do worry that that special camaraderie we all felt when times were good at the ballpark may somehow be lost in the name of progress. We’ll see.
But no matter what, after my tenure as your BRBC CEO comes to an end this fall, I will remain an ardent supporter of this city and this great region we love and cherish so much. And I can’t thank you enough for affording me the special opportunity I have had to promote your business interests during this period.