2022 Minor League Executive Of The Year: Kristin Call (Myrtle Beach Pelicans)
When people around the Myrtle Beach Pelicans say Kristin Call is a hands-on general manager, here’s what they mean:
In the midst of a pop-up storm during a prom night promotion, Call once pulled tarp in a strapless bridesmaid’s dress.
“We all got the radio call and I didn’t have time to go put on shorts and a T-shirt,” said Call, who had drawn the line at wearing heels. “There’s a reason I work at the beach where you can wear flip-flops and tennis shoes.”
Now in her 10th year in the Pelicans’ front office, Call has built a reputation on work ethic, leadership and a keen eye for marketing. Just a year since her promotion to general manager, that reputation is only growing. Baseball America has named her Minor League Executive of the Year.
“She is such a dynamic leader,” said Myrtle Beach team president Ryan Moore, whose promotion from GM created the opening. Call assumed the title of GM after the 2021 season.
“Not only in her strategy development but in her own personal efforts. She’s one of the hardest workers and the smartest workers I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with, and it’s a really motivating leadership style for the rest of the staff.”
While most minor league operators have seen declines in both attendance and corporate sponsorships since the pandemic, Myrtle Beach has thrived.
Since 2019, only Myrtle Beach—the Low-A Carolina League affiliate of the Cubs—and other teams with new stadiums have gained ground.
Call is quick to share the credit with the entire Pelicans front office and said she’s just maintaining momentum the team has set in recent years.
“Everybody’s asking the same thing: ‘What are the big changes?’ ” she said. “I don’t have a big list of changes. We’re doing really well. Let’s keep doing what we do well, and relying on the knowledge of our staff that has been here for years.”
The Pelicans’ 14 full-time staffers have a combined 186 years of experience in minor league baseball, 120 of them in Myrtle Beach. Moore said Call’s leadership is part of the reason so many staffers stick around.
And Call, who arrived in 2013 as the team’s director of marketing, helped set the club on this trajectory—and she’s done it in a unique environment. Myrtle Beach has to build a fanbase from an audience that’s constantly turning over in the South Carolina resort town.
While most teams draw their biggest attendance Friday and Saturday nights, that’s when beach tourists are packing up and checking out of rental properties. If tourists are checking in, a ball game is probably the last thing on their minds. But dinner out is not.
The Pelicans partner with local restaurants and bars, offering tickets to incentivize employees to make sure at least one TV has the Pelicans game on.
The pitch Call makes goes like this: “You don’t even have to have the sound on, just one TV showing Pelicans baseball. Here’s the schedule. Here’s the channel guide. Here’s how you find it.”
The Pelicans market to local families on weekends instead. On Friday nights they host fireworks shows and offer a $25 family meal with four hot dogs, four sodas and popcorn.
“Everybody’s pulled in 100 different directions during the week,” Call said. “The Thirsty Thursday promotion was great in your 20s but now you’re older, you’ve got family obligations. It might still be a motivator for you, just not on a weekday.
“We basically copied that promotion and put it on Saturdays, and I’ve seen that perform really well.”
Call said a key driver of their success has been simplifying the message to both tourists and locals. The Pelicans have stuck with some of the same weekly promotions for years, whether it’s Tacos & Tallboys on Tuesdays or half-price hot dogs on Weiner Wednesdays.
And they’ve embraced the new schedule implemented by Major League Baseball, where teams know they’ll be home for six days, on the road for six days and off every Monday.
“I always use the example of Shoney’s,” Call said. “Kids eat free every Wednesday. As a child, our family was at Shoney’s every single Wednesday . . . Trying to become part of folks’ routine is what we’re all trying to do.”