Sanchez hits it out of the park with Atlanta Braves organization

Carlos Sanchez dc 3.jpg

Carlos Sanchez was born for baseball. He lives for Braves baseball.

Growing up in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, the Kennesaw State University senior remembers stories his father told him of playing high school ball with men who would one day make it to the big leagues, former Braves catcher Javy Lopez and outfielder Melvin Nieves, Texas Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez and sports agent Melvin Roman.

“In Puerto Rico, you could watch the Braves games on TBS. They were one of my favorite teams,” said Sanchez, a sports management major.

When his father, a Coca-Cola executive, moved the family to Cobb County, Sanchez was able to follow the team regularly. Sanchez was a linebacker for Hillgrove High School’s football team in Powder Springs. “After practice I would listen to Skip Caray announcing the games in my car and while doing homework. If I couldn’t watch them on TV, I would listen to them any chance I had.”

He meticulously kept up with players’ statistics and attended as many games as often as he could. Then, as a first-year student at Kennesaw State, he had a chance to work with Braves Around Town, the team’s mobile marketing presence in Atlanta and the Southeast. Since then, Sanchez has worked for several departments within the club. As a front office intern with the club’s Community Affairs Department, he helped plan and organize events for the Braves Foundation. He helped to recruit teens and assisted with several youth baseball clinics. Sanchez also organized hospital visits with the players and coaches.

In 2012 Sanchez and his colleagues worked with the Latin American Association to organize a summer camp for middle school students. The youths toured Turner Field, watched batting practice and met players infielder Martin Prado, pitcher Randall Delgado, relief pitcher Luis Avilan and bullpen coach Eddie Perez.

“When I first got the job — when I walked through the club house, stepped on the field and met the players and executives — I felt like I was living the dream,” said Sanchez, who wanted to be a major league player when he was in middle school. But early on he realized that the behind-the-scenes world of baseball offers many opportunities.

“I’m still living that dream. I’m surrounded by people I grew up watching. I feel like I’m part of the Braves family,” he said. “What makes me really proud about the Braves is not just their win-loss record — they are one of the best teams in baseball — but businesswise, the organization. The Braves are world class. They do things the right way. They’ve built an organization out of good people.”

Sanchez is a senior and still working with the Braves. He’s equally at home singing the praises of his favorite team as he is serving as an unofficial Kennesaw State ambassador, regularly referring qualified classmates to jobs at Turner Field.

“He’s done a wonderful job for us,” said Kyle Brodie, the Braves senior marketing coordinator and Sanchez’s first boss. “He loves baseball and he loves the Braves. He can talk to anybody.”

Talking to anybody includes a brief sit-down with Braves president John Schuerholz, from whom he asked career advice. He also approached Derek Schiller, the executive vice president of sales and marketing and Chris Rice, an executive assistant, for references to help him obtain an internship with the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball in New York. He's still waiting to hear from MLB about the internship.

Asking for help from the executive suite was a gutsy move, but classic Sanchez.

“He’s motivated and he knows what he wants to do,” Brodie said.

Sanchez also put together a marketing plan to reach Atlanta’s Latino population, which he presented to Gus Eurton, the vice president of marketing, and Hill Scott, the director of marketing.  

“He gave a great presentation,” Brodie said. “It’s an ongoing discussion on what we can do better to reach that market segment.”

The Braves implemented one of his ideas: a designated ticket window staffed with Spanish-speaking personnel, a move covered by Univision Atlanta on its “Nuestra Georgia” program.

Sanchez is also an ardent football fan and was beaming on the sidelines during the press conference when Kennesaw State announced that it was getting a football team. On that day he was busy as a volunteer for the school’s Athletics Department, transcribing the speakers’ statements.

Sanchez, 21, a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, is full of dreams: he hopes to become the president of a professional baseball organization one day; he has the Puerto Rico Olympic Committee in his sights; and he wants to restore winter baseball in Puerto Rico to its glory days. He also wants more recognition for legendary player Roberto Clemente. Every year, Major League Baseball recognizes a player who best exemplifies the game, goodwill and community service with the Roberto Clemente Award.

But Sanchez wants more.

“It’s not as big deal as it could be,” Sanchez said. “I want to do something here in Atlanta and league-wide. Roberto Clemente is probably the most famous Latin American player of all time. Yet, he was a very humble Puerto Rican. He was a great humanitarian. He’s a great example of service. Someday, I hope to make a positive impact on as many people as possible. I want to leave a legacy just like Clemente did.”

 --Yolanda Rodriguez

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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering more than 80 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing and a new Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing student population of more than 24,600 from 130 countries.