Notre Dame alum finishes up a dream job with the Tigers, now looks forward to his next at-bat.
It is probably a dream come true for most fans of baseball to be able to wake up each morning and head to work at a major-league ballpark. For one fan in particular — and a Notre Dame alum — he's been living his dream for nearly a decade and a half. Now he says he's taking a break from baseball.
"Earlier this year, after 13 years with the Detroit Tigers, I decided to step down to enjoy the summer at home with my daughter before taking on a new challenge," said Ron Wade, a 1987 Notre Dame High School grad and who most recently was director of marketing for the Tigers.
But Wade wasn't always working his dream job. In fact, his baseball job was preceded by a number of years in a laboratory investigating how chromosomes relate to cell behavior, particularly to their behavior during mitosis and meiosis. Which makes a whole lot of sense, believe it or not, especially since his undergrad degree from Wayne State University was in biology.
"I had been working as an assistant in a cytogenetics laboratory during school at Wayne State and when I graduated I became a full-time cytogenetic technologist," Wade said. "My job involved analyzing chromosomes from peripheral blood samples, amniocentesis and chorionic villi."
It was challenging work, he said, but after 10 years, he realized that what he really wanted was to work in the sports industry. So he applied at WSU once again, but this time in the school's sports administration graduate program.
"I was accepted, I excelled and I loved it," he said. "One of my classes was a seminar held in conjunction with the Detroit Tigers front office, where I met the VP of ticket sales, Bob Raymond. When I needed to apply for an internship in 2003, I reached out to Bob and was able to get one in the team's ticket sales department. Then, through that internship, I met Mike Veeck, who at the time was the Tigers vice president of marketing."
Veeck is the son of Hall of Fame baseball owner, Bill Veeck. He also was the owner of several minor league teams and managed to set Wade up with a job in Minnesota with his St. Paul Saints, a member of the North Division of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball.
"I worked with the Saints from April 2004 through September 2005," Wade said. "Then I got a call from the Tigers again asking if I’d be interested in applying for a marketing coordinator position with the club. I said, yes, of course, and eventually worked my way up to my last position with the team, director of marketing."
Wade said it's been a great "dream" ride with the Tigers, and he is forever grateful for a couple of big influences that have made it all possible.
"Most prominent in driving my aspirations growing up were my parents," Wade said. "The expectations they put on me, combined with the expectations that came with my Notre Dame education meant that college success was a given. Actually, my college experience at Wayne State University was made much easier because of my time at NDHS. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the courses or the course load. I was more than ready when I got there."
He also said that while he's got many great memories from high school, a couple stand out.
"One of the best things about Notre Dame was the fact that I made great friends there – friends for life who I still see on a regular basis," he said. "Also, the teachers that stand out for me at NDHS include Ms. Bennett, who was the first teacher to give me confidence in my writing ability and who pushed me to write more; and Mr. Vachon, simply because I can still say the first 18 lines of the Canterbury Tales — in Middle English, no less!"
But besides his NDHS education and the tremendous mental strength it took for him to make that career change back when he was 30, he knew there was still more in play.
"I knew that the skills from my scientific training could translate to business," he said. "I also knew that combining that with my work ethic — the baseball schedule is relentless — I felt more than qualified for a position in professional sports."
Now pushing 50, Wade awaits his next career change. It appears that whatever that is and whenever it comes, he'll be more than ready for it.
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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame's upper school enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at www.ndpma.org.