Mike Nutter loves his job. That he is passionate about coming to the ballpark everyday, working with the staff and fans, and putting on a game night after night becomes clear during a 45-minute conversation with the president of the Fort Wayne TinCaps. He loved it when he was a college intern with the Kane County Cougars 27 years ago, he loved it when was a young staffer with the Brevard County Manatees and Nashville Sounds a few years later, and he still loves it today.
Nutter has used that passion to help turn the Fort Wayne TinCaps into one of the most consistent and successful franchises in the Midwest League and all of minor league baseball. Since leaving aging Memorial Stadium for the new, downtown Parkview Field in 2009, Fort Wayne has drawn no fewer than 378,000 fans in a season and has topped the 400,000 mark in each of the past five. Along the way, Nutter has won the Midwest League Executive of the Year Award three times—most recently in 2015.
What follows is my conversation with Nutter about his experiences in the game, his beliefs on how to be successful, why he loves minor league baseball so much and more. The transcript has been edited in spots for length and clarity.
How did your path through minor league baseball lead to Fort Wayne? How long have you been there?
This is 19 seasons here. Nine at the old ballpark when we were the Wizards over at Memorial Stadium. And this is the 10th year here. And prior to that there were stops in Nashville, Tennessee for three, in ’97, ’98, ’99. Brevard County, Florida, in ’96. I joked with someone the other day that I am finally old enough where I worked for a team that went under. Then in ‘92, ‘93, ‘94, ‘95, working the summers out there with the Kane County Cougars. That’s where I fell in love with the game and thought that this might be a career. And here we are 27 years into it, and I am still having a blast, man.