Leadership / 02.03.21
Life ‘Accordion’ to the Minnesota Twins’ Paul Froehle
Being from and of the Great Lakes region of North America, it is no surprise that Paul Froehle plays the accordion and dances the polka. In fact, he did both to help promote a beer stein giveaway in the summer of 2015. Here’s the proof. It is all in a day’s work for the Vice President of Ticket Operations for the Minnesota Twins.
“We all embrace and do a lot of different things in our company,” Paul says. “Who would ever think you would be asked to do something like that and actually agree to participate? I don’t think people realize how many different hats we wear in this business.”
In this case, his hat (and lederhosen) was provided by the baseball club. The accordion was a childhood gift from his father. “When I was a kid, he happened to see it in a store, bought it and brought it home. I put the accordion on and started running around the house, just playing the keys. Then my mom looked at my father and said, ‘What did you just create?’ Next thing you know, I was taking accordion lessons, and later, competing against other musicians from around the world in an accordion band. If you can imagine, we played the ‘1812 Overture’ in Washington, D.C.”
Paul as a child in his Twins sweatshirt.
Paul comes from a large Catholic family with solid and seemingly unmovable roots in Minnesota where, he says, he grew up with “the best parents ever.” His father not only got him into music, but also, in a roundabout way, the ticketing business.
From left: Paul’s sister, Ann Marie; Paul’s mom, Marion; Paul’s late paternal aunt and godmother, Janie; and Paul.
“He got me my first job while I was still in school working for Gambles (a retail chain in Minnesota), where he worked all his life,” Paul says. “At Gambles, I met a man who drove the Zamboni at the Minnesota North Stars games. He told me they were hiring and got me an interview. It turned out the person who interviewed me knew my dad. I started working there as an usher and did all the background work. I put deodorizers in storage closets. I did inventory, worked security, worked concerts and other events, and then worked on the operations side. Eventually, over the course of 11 years, I worked my way up to become Assistant Ticket Manager. I owe it all to my father, the one person I admire the most. He was a very hardworking man. He was dedicated to his employer, and he worked for one company his whole life. I think I kind of followed in his footsteps by being really diligent and signing on with the view to helping grow a business and making a difference.”
Paul’s story began as an usher in the 1970s.
Paul has been making a difference for the Minnesota Twins for a good part of his life, joining the team in late 1985. What does he enjoy most about his job?
“For me, it is the ability to get to go to a ballpark on a daily basis and provide entertainment for fans to come and enjoy. It is cheering the home team on, making everybody’s experience fun and being part of that. When you see the highlights on the news or read about a game, I know that I played a part to sell out the building or provide the ability for the fans to come into the ballpark and have a great time. I’m not going to a 9-to-5 job that I’m bored with. We make a difference for people. I think that is pretty cool.”
And sometimes, according to Paul, the greatest satisfaction comes by going above and beyond the call of duty — doing more than what might otherwise be expected.
“I was in Fort Myers [at Spring Training] and read a news story about a couple who were hit head-on by a drunk driver. There were four kids now with no dad. I didn’t know them but was able to reach out on social media and invite them to visit our ballpark, eat in our press dining room, engage with the team trainers as a pre-game activity, throw the ball on the field and then sit down in the dugout. We’re not always going to be able to do that, but I feel that we all think about what we can do in our business to help people and provide those services. Even to engage with a fan in the concourse and maybe hand out some coupons or a baseball. Just to say, ‘Hello, how’s it going?’ and to watch the interaction with families doing stuff together in our facility and having fun, it really makes my job even more enjoyable.”
By any stretch of the imagination, it has been an incredible journey for Paul over the past 35 years.
“I’ve been able to work for the same organization for an exceptionally long time,” he says. “Who can say in their resume that they helped close an original ballpark where the Mall of America is today, helped open the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis and then worked every year in that facility, were able to close that venue and work as part of a team to help open Target Field, and still work there today? I cross-channeled three ballparks that our team has played in. So that, and I think the ability to be the first team in the American League to draw 3 million fans (in 1988 after winning the World Series in ’87), is an incredible achievement for myself and all of my colleagues.”
Having recently turned 60 and chosen to remain a bachelor, Paul’s colleagues have become his extended family, and the ballpark is home. “I’m more bonded with some people in ticketing than I am with cousins and some family members,” he says. “The organization I work for is family. We are very fortunate that everyone on our ticketing operations team is so talented and dedicated. They bring so much to our organization, and I have a great deal of respect for each one of them.”
Paul and his department colleagues volunteer as a group in the community. Packaging food to ship abroad for the nonprofit Feed My Starving Children was one of their most fulfilling projects.
That “family” also includes INTIX, which Paul has been actively involved with from its earliest days, back when it was known as BOMI (Box Office Managers International). In 2003, he was named INTIX Ticketing Professional of the year. Paul is also a current board member of TSG (Ticketing Services Group), the regional ticketing group for the Midwest.
“I got into this business when I was young, wet behind the ears,” Paul says. “I didn’t know much about the ticketing business. INTIX has been a huge help along the way. If the Twins are my second family, INTIX is like a third family. I know I can go to anybody if I’ve got questions or I need support. It’s so much more than a conference. It’s the passion, the relationships and the value you get from talking with others in the industry. It is nurturing and has made a total difference for me as a professional and in my life.
Paul continues, “I use INTIX daily, whether it be on a call or to use as a resource to find ways to engage and help my staff with their development. INTIX is like a walking library of information that helps us in our daily lives. If we don’t find it or we don’t have it, we know we can always reach out to somebody and get it there, whether it be a vendor or somebody else. The organization and its people are a vast storehouse of knowledge that provides you with what you need to make a difference in your career and your life.”
With all this talk about time spent at the ballpark working, one might get the impression that Paul has no interest in anything else. That is far from the truth, however, as he talks passionately about spending time at his cabin, gardening and landscaping, as well as his love for camping in his RV.
Paul’s lake cabin.
“My favorite place to visit is the North Shore of Minnesota that takes you from Duluth up to Thunder Bay in Canada,” he says. “The fall colors are so vibrant. There are hills, there are waterfalls, there are the Great Lakes, there are lighthouses. It’s just like you are in a totally different world. It is one of my ultimate favorite drives, making that trek and camping and hiking; there’s nothing that sets it apart for me.”
Paul says, “We’ve been RVing for so long. My parents got their first RV when I was about 8 years old. We were heavily involved. We were big members of Coachmen out of Middlebury, Indiana. I still know the president of Coachmen Industries today. We’re part of the culture; they have rallies, and we have a state rally. That’s another extension of family for me; it is my camping family.”
It should come as no surprise given his performance in that beer commercial, but Paul says he loves to dance — this includes the polka (of course), but also the waltz and “some Latin stuff.” He admits to not reading much, but he does enjoy music, and counts Josh Groban as well as the Bee Gees among his favorite artists. His most memorable live event? “Miss Saigon at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis,” he says. “It has always remained in my heart, and so wherever I get a chance to see that I go. It’s just my ultimate, all-time favorite show.”
At an age when most people start thinking about retirement, they also tend to look back on all that they have accomplished through the years. Paul is no different in this regard, and one can imagine him, perhaps at his lakefront cabin sitting on a pontoon with his sister’s dog Jax (a Bichon-Shih Tzu mix), that he sometimes babysits, wondering if he did the right thing by staying in Minnesota all his life and with the same employer for so long.
Jax, aka Minnesota Twins ticket office mascot.
“Today, I wonder if I missed something by not moving around more or living out of state or taking a chance to work with other companies that are abroad or in a different industry. Yet when I look back, I don’t think I have any regrets. Once you get into the entertainment business, you experience the passion and the networking and everything that we do in this business, so you tend not to leave it. You find your niche and stay there. It’s family. Some of these people, I’ve known them forever. I’ve known them since I got into the business. We’re still friends.”
While Paul has spent much of his time close to home, he does recall a once-in-a-lifetime trip taken many years ago. “When I was working at the Metrodome, I took three straight weeks off, which you just don’t do in this business. I took a backpacking trip in Europe. I was able to have, if you can imagine, just one backpack for a three-week trip. It was a pair of shoes, a pair of jeans, a pair of shorts. It was your undergarments. It was a small umbrella, flip flops; and a buddy of mine said ‘I’m going with you,’” Paul says. “So, we went on this trip through Copenhagen, Berlin, Hamburg, [other parts of] Germany, everywhere. It was a trip of a lifetime to be gone for three weeks, take the trains, stay in hostels and just see the world. I want to be able to do that again and take some more of these trips after I retire.”
Paul in his office at the Metrodome.
And finally, besides some great trips and time spent at his cabin on the lake, what is Paul’s wish for the future?
“I wish everyone could get along and respect everybody’s viewpoints in life. Take the time to sit back and listen to what they’re saying; treat everybody with respect,” he says. “I just wish in our world today that we could all just see each other as one and get along, like family.”
Paul and his cabin “family” making dinner.
This wish comes as no surprise, considering that Paul has spent his years with beloved “family” all around him — at home in Minnesota, at work with his team, at INTIX and on the road in his RV.
Indeed, it seems for Paul, everything is going “accordion” to plan.
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