By ELIZABETH A. DAVIS
Special to The Messenger
After the Star-Spangled Banner is sung and the first pitch barrels toward the lead-off batter, Manny Colon can relax. He might be the only one in the Miami Marlins organization whose down time lasts nine innings.
Colon, a 2001 graduate of UT Martin, is in his third season as the Marlins’ traveling secretary, a front-office position that many teams are starting to call director of team travel. He arranges the air and ground travel for the players and coaches and makes sure their luggage gets to the hotel and the equipment makes it to the ballpark. He’s in charge of handing out meal per diem to each player, arranging for rental cars and setting aside game tickets for family and friends. He is the personal travel agent for about 60 people who need to be on time, in a good mood and prepared for the 81 games they play on the road each season.
“When it’s 7:05, it’s the best time of the day because everyone is on the field,” Colon says.
He began working for the Marlins in 2002 as an intern and got a full-time position as player relations assistant the next year — in time for the World Series and the Marlins’ victory over the New York Yankees. He worked in player development before taking on team travel.
It has been reported Colon is the first Latino traveling secretary in the major leagues, but Colon doesn’t know for sure.
“It is an honor if I am, and I hope it opens doors for other people,” he says.
Colon’s job is fitting for someone who moved frequently as a child and loves baseball, even though he doesn’t like being away from wife, Joelle; 7-year-old daughter, Melanie; and 3-year-old son, Jason.
Colon grew up in Puerto Rico with his mother while his father was in the Army in South Korea. There were stops in Germany and Italy before his father was stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky. After high school, he thought about playing college baseball. After realizing “I’m not that good,” he turned his sights to the front office.
At UTM, Colon worked in athletics and was Captain Skyhawk. He attended the baseball winter meetings in 1998 and got a six-month internship with the professional minor league New Jersey Cardinals. Back at UT Martin, he picked up a gig as the public address announcer for the baseball team.
At 33, Colon still has plenty of time to work his way up through the ranks in baseball.
“To be a little Latino boy raised in Clarksville and get where I am today, I’ve done pretty well so far,” he says. “I think I could do more in the game. I’m not ready for it now but maybe five or 10 years from now.”
Davis is the editor of Tennessee Alumnus, a magazine for alumni of the UT System, including campuses at Knoxville, Chattanooga, Martin and the Health Science Center in Memphis.
Published in The Messenger 6.20.13