San Francisco Giants fans remember it all too well. It was game five of the World Series, the score stayed frozen at 3-1 and Brian Wilson faced Nelson Cruz for the most important out in Giants history.
Strike three, game over and the Giants were world champs for the first time in its San Francisco-based history.
While fans celebrated in the bars and streets, SF State alumnus and San Francisco Giants Vice President of Ticket Sales and Services, Russ Stanley, was on the Rangers Ballpark field with his family, relishing in one of his greatest achievements.
“It all kind of overwhelms you when you (finally) win,” Stanley said of winning his first World Series. “My kids were with me, so it was really special.”
Stanley, now the proud owner of two World Series rings, graduated from SF State in 1988 with a degree in business administration, and has the responsibility of maintaining the longest streak of sellout seats in the MLB.
Stanley grew up in Pacifica, Calif., a small surfer town about 13 miles outside San Francisco, where his family moved when he was 2 years old and where his parents still live.
Baseball and hard work were big themes throughout Stanley’s childhood. His father John Stanley, a former editor for the San Francisco Chronicle Datebook, used to take Russ on assignment with him in the city. Stanley said his parents played a big part in shaping his work ethic as a kid.
“My mom is German, so growing up I had a job since I was probably 13,” Stanley said. “We’d play baseball all day, and afterward I’d go do something a couple days a week to generate some money.”
The young baseball kid from Pacifica always had ambitions of winning a World Series with the Giants, he just never expected to do so as a vice president.
“I grew up wanting to play second base for the Giants, but found out in high school that I couldn’t hit a curveball,” Stanley said. “So I gave up on that dream.”
After graduating from Terra Nova High School, Stanley moved on to SF State where he began as a broadcasting major, which he said could get him close to sports again. He also wanted to take after his father, who hosted KTVU Channel 2 News’ Creature Features in the 1980’s.
“At SF State, I took my first (broadcasting) class and thought I was going to throw up,” he said. “I had to give a speech in front of all these people, and I thought I was gonna die. I knew right there that broadcasting was not for me.”
Once again, Stanley had to switch gears on his career, finally settling on business administration. He worked multiple jobs while attending school to help achieve his degree.
Stanley used the business knowledge he learned at SF State early on as a part-time owner of a video store in Foster City, Calif. and as a waterslide manager at Marine World, where he worked for eight years.
“(At Marine World) I had a lot of responsibility where I had 50 people that were under me, and a couple million dollar budget,” Stanley said. “There’s not a lot of 18, 19 year olds who can say they have that kind of experience.”
Although his studies helped him in his work throughout college, Stanley said he never got to connect very well to SF State and experience the college lifestyle.
“For that part of my college career, I was disappointed,” he said. “I never got to experience the fraternity life. I have no idea what it’s like to live in a dorm or even eat dorm food. I felt I never really got that.”
Though his days as a Gator are over, you’ll find Stanley scrambling around his AT&T Park offices, filling the seats to one of the most popular stadiums in the MLB.
Some of Stanley’s employees described the work environment to be fast paced and intense at times, but said Stanley’s leadership abilities and well-rounded experience make him fun to work for.
“I remember when I came in for my last interview for the job, I was thinking ‘I’m so prepared for this interview with him’,” said Emily Bliss, a desk receptionist for the Giants ticket sales office. “He sat me down and said ‘Hey, what do you like to do for fun?’, and we literally sat there for 30 minutes talking about my hobbies and he gave me the job.”
Carolyn Uroz, an SF State alumna, worked her way up from selling tickets in the box office to working as Stanley’s executive assistant.
She has known Stanley for over 22 years when they started working for the Giants, and said he maintains the same personality in and outside of work.
“He is 120 percent baseball,” Uroz joked. “His style is the same no matter what. It’s one of his great qualities, because he is the same type of boss as he is with his family.”
Since the Giants clinched a playoff berth, Stanley’s job got a little bit harder. It’s difficult for him to anticipate what the next steps are with all the unknown in the Giants schedule, but Stanley said he still reflects on his SF State classes to help him through it.
“A lot of the stuff I learned at SF State about balancing budgets, is stuff I use today,” Stanley said. “It’s like Econ 101 all over again.”