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How Bats' Galiette went from intern to team prez

Salesman's 'idiotic decision' opened the door to career in baseball
Louisville Bats president Greg Galiette began working for the team in 1985.
October 16, 2023

LOUISVILLE, KY -- How long has Greg Galiette worked for Louisville’s Minor League Baseball team? Let’s just say it’s been a while. “A lot of people joke that I was dropped off as a baby at the doorstep of Cardinal Stadium,” he said with a laugh. Galiette was assuredly past

LOUISVILLE, KY -- How long has Greg Galiette worked for Louisville’s Minor League Baseball team? Let’s just say it’s been a while.

“A lot of people joke that I was dropped off as a baby at the doorstep of Cardinal Stadium,” he said with a laugh.

Galiette was assuredly past his infancy when his tenure began; in fact, he was out of college. Nonetheless, the Louisville native has enjoyed an impressively long run, having recently completed his 39th season with Louisville's Triple-A franchise (and third as team president). His career has now spanned multiple leagues, ballparks, affiliations and team names.

Louisville’s Minor League team is now known as the Bats, serving as the Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds in the International League. The franchise began in 1982 as the Louisville Redbirds, operating out of the now-defunct American Association. The Redbirds were a St. Louis Cardinals affiliate and played at fittingly named Cardinal Stadium, so-called because the University of Louisville Cardinals football team also competed there.

Galiette graduated from that same university in 1983 and took a sales job with Xerox shortly thereafter.

“I could just not see myself selling [Xerox] products every day for the rest of my life,” he said, speaking prior to a Louisville Bats game last month. “My uncle [Dick Galiette] had been involved in sports. He was the voice of Yale Football for 33 years and was also one of the first anchors on ESPN SportsCenter. My dad played college football at Syracuse. I just wanted to find some way to get involved with sports.”

Cardinal Stadium, home of Louisville Minor League Baseball from 1982-99.

Not quite knowing what else to do, Galiette says he "pestered" original Redbirds owner A. Ray Smith throughout the course of the 1984 season.

“I guess I just finally wore him down and he gave me a job, basically, as an intern,” he said. “Everybody in my family thought I was an idiot. All my friends, all my business associates. My boss at Xerox told me I would never succeed or last long in this profession. And here we are almost 40 years later.”

From intern to president, with a lot of job titles in-between.

“Everything from being a season ticket sales rep, group sales rep, group sales manager, public address announcer,” said Galiette, barely stopping for breath. “Ticket manager and then becoming an assistant GM. Head of marketing. Head of promotions.”

Cardinal Stadium, where Galiette spent the first 15 seasons of his career, was a far cry from the team’s current home of Louisville Slugger Field. Its capacity was approximately 35,000, more than double the size of today’s largest Triple-A facilities.

“Baseball had been gone for 10 years after the Red Sox Triple-A affiliate left us in ’72, gone to the East Coast in Pawtucket,” said Galiette. “When it came back in ’82 it was just a town starved and craving for something to do in the spring and summertime, so it became the in place to go. ... We really just captured lightning in a bottle, and we kept that run going for quite a while.

“Operationally, it was a hard facility to get around in. We were right there at the birth of Ticketmaster, so we were one of Ticketmaster’s first clients. Before that, with hard ticket stock, it was a challenge to get around the ballpark each night and make sure all the ticket booths were manned and stocked well, ready for the game. Especially drawing that many fans. Some great, great memories.”

Galiette (left) celebrates the Louisville Redbirds winning the championship in 1995.

Those memories include a litany of touring performers, only some of whom were connected to the game of baseball.

“We used to do a lot of concerts. … When I was ticket manager of the Redbirds, the patrons of the Grateful Dead would hang their laundry outside my ticket office before the concert and my office basically reeked of marijuana for over a week after they left. Then there was Captain and Lady Dynamite doing their stunt in our stadium, blowing themselves up before the game. All the pins that were in my seating chart fell out of the seating diagram, so I spent four days putting those back in.”

Louisville Slugger Field, under construction in advance of its 2000 debut.

Galiette takes pride in the role that the Redbirds played in the growth of Minor League Baseball throughout the ‘80s, which set the stage for a stadium boom that lasted well into the 21st century. Louisville Slugger Field opened in the city’s downtown in 2000, the same year in which the Bats' long-running affiliation with the Reds began.

“This whole area of downtown that we’re sitting at right now was a very blighted area, a lot of empty warehouses and buildings. And it’s just one of those classic examples: If you build it, they will come,” said Galiette. “The stadium rose up out of the ground and then all of a sudden, 5-10 years later, an entire neighborhood grew up around it. This has been the catalyst of the rebirth of the east side or downtown waterfront side of Louisville.”

Louisville Slugger Field as it looks today.

The operation that Galiette now oversees is far different than the one he started with in 1985, which, he says is “why I have so many smart young people around me. To keep me up to date with what’s going on.” Now on the cusp of his 40th season, he views himself as a “caretaker for this facility, and for this franchise here in the community.”

All these years later, Galiette’s leap of faith into the world of Minor League Baseball seems like it was simply meant to be.

“No regrets whatsoever,” he said. “To be paid to do something that you’re so passionate about, I feel like I’m stealing money sometimes.”

Sometimes, idiotic decisions pay off.

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.