Ken Babby, a native of Potomac, Maryland, is the founder of Fast Forward Sports Group, owning the Akron RubberDucks (AA) and Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (AAA) minor league baseball teams.
Before founding Fast Forward Sports Group, Babby spent 13 years on the business side of The Washington Post, starting as a summer intern, rising to the role of Chief Revenue Officer of Washington Post Media and General Manager of Washington Post Digital. Ken oversaw the company’s $500M in annual advertising revenue and led the Post into the digital era overseeing all aspects of the company’s digital, mobile and video strategy and operations. The entrepreneurial growth of Post’s digital business and national growth caught the attention of Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, who acquired the media company in 2012.
Babby purchased the Akron Aeros, Eastern League affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, in October 2012, and rebranded the team as the Akron RubberDucks after the 2013 season. Babby has privately invested more than $8 million in Canal Park, which has welcomed more than 340,000 fans each of the past four seasons. In 2015, Akron earned the Larry MacPhail Award for the most outstanding and creative marketing and promotional efforts in Minor League Baseball. In 2016, Akron hosted the franchise’s first-ever Eastern League All-Star Game and was the Eastern League nominee for the John H. Johnson President’s Award, Minor League Baseball’s top award for an organization. Since Babby's acquisition, the franchise has grown average attendance by 38%. In 2019, as recognition of the club’s successes in the community the Sports Business Journal named Akron a Top 10 minor league sports city in the US.
In September 2015, Babby purchased the Jacksonville Suns, Southern League affiliate of the Miami Marlins. He invested more than $3 million into fan areas at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville before rebranding the team as the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp after the 2016 season. In the inaugural season as the Jumbo Shrimp, attendance increased by more than 61,000 – the most of any Double-A ballpark and a ballpark-record 23 percent – to more than 325,000 for the first time in seven years. The Jumbo Shrimp won the Southern League’s Organization of the Year. In 2021, the Miami Marlins selected Jacksonville as their new AAA affiliate a testament to continued benefits of community and facility investment.
Ken was named to Sports Business Journal’s coveted “Forty Under 40, list in 2016. For the growth of the Akron franchise, he was a winner of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year® 2017 Award in the Northeast Ohio region. Ken credits the success of team every step of the way. Akron General Manager and Fast Forward Sports Group President Jim Pfander was the 2016 Eastern League Executive of the Year, and Jacksonville General Manager Harold Craw was the 2017 Southern League Executive of the Year, becoming the first African-American to win Executive of the Year for any league in Minor League Baseball.
Babby’s two-fold mission is to create a memorable, unique, affordable and enjoyable fan experience, and maximize the opportunity to create change in the community through charitable, wellness and education initiatives. He serves on numerous boards in Northeast Ohio and Northeast Florida including Baptist Hospitals of Florida and United Way of Summit County and trustee at Wheaton College and Jacksonville University. Ken is a graduate of Wheaton College (MA) with an MBA from Johns Hopkins University.
Ken is married to his wife, Liz, and has a teenage son, Josh. Ken’s father (Lon) is a long-time sports executive serving as an NBA agent and prior as General Counsel of the Baltimore Orioles, and later President, Basketball Operations at the Phoenix Suns.