Joy of Baseball Trumps Legal Career
Marv Goldklang chose to follow his passion at mid-career and has no regrets
Marv Goldklang could be dining with power brokers in Manhattan this week, enjoying the professional perks of a New York corporate lawyer.
Instead, he’ll be in Minnesota, for the first game of the St. Paul Saints baseball season in their brand new $64.7 million park. He is the principal owner and chairman of the Saints, an independent league team whose talent compares to a minor league AA team.
“My whole family is going to be there,” said Goldklang, who's in his early 70s and lives in Livingston, N.J. He will be soaking in the beauty of the new baseball stadium because he decided to take a risk and walk away from a successful legal career to pursue his passion shortly after he turned 40.
“You get to a point in life when you take a step or two back and ask yourself what is really important to you in terms of a sense of fulfillment, sense of enjoyment, sense of connection to what you do during the day,” Goldklang said in a phone interview. “And baseball was it.”
Love Of The Game
That love of baseball surfaced early. “Like a lot of kids growing up, I wanted to be a ballplayer. That’s what I wanted to do in life,” said the Bayonne, N.J., native.
Goldklang pitched in college for the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned degrees from the business and law schools in the 1960s. “I wasn’t good enough to do what I really wanted to do in life, which was pitch for The New York Yankees.”
So he became a lawyer and partner at Cahill Gordon & Reindel in New York, known for serving corporate and financial services clients. But the baseball passion never left.
“I was fortunate enough to bring myself to a point in life where I could afford to move off in a different direction and I did,” he said.
Today, he is chairman of the Goldklang Group, a sports entertainment consulting and management firm. In addition to the St. Paul Saints, he is principal owner of two minor league teams — in Charleston, S.C. (a New York Yankees affiliate) and Hudson Valley, N.Y. (a Tampa Bay Rays affiliate).
Joining Forces With Bill Murray
Goldklang, who has an ownership stake in the Yankees, has colorful co-owners in St. Paul. Longtime baseball promoter Mike Veeck and actor Bill Murray also are Saints owners.
“The quality of the baseball is good,” Goldklang said, but Saints fans expect “an enjoyable experience between innings.” That can range from children in an on-field tire race to sumo wrestlers performing a quick match before the next batter comes up to the plate.
When an independent baseball league was forming in 1992, Goldklang said that he, Veeck and Murray put up $50,000 for a franchise fee and another $100,000 in working capital for the St. Paul Saints operation.
“We decided it would be just a great deal of fun to get involved in a situation where we actually went out and decided on the players, scouted the players, signed the players, hired the manager and got directly involved in the baseball side of things,” he said.
It was a low-budget, but pure baseball operation. “The three of us thought we’d have a helluva good time, lose all our money in a couple years, but leave with a smile on our faces,” said Goldklang.
Instead, he said, “we connected with the community and it just grew over the years.”
Goldklang didn’t get to pitch for the Yankees. But he enjoys being at the ballpark and watching fans have a great time. “You don’t forget your childhood dream,” Goldklang said. “Getting involved in baseball on a business level was the closest I was able to come.”