Where Are They Now? Kris Benson
A certain amount of competitive drive from baseball carries over to Kris Benson’s position these days as founder and CEO of Superior Business Management in Atlanta. Yet, in his view, the many managers he played for in a nine-year big league career carry the most influential weight in his world of business.
“My main role in this company is to make sure that everything is working properly in the office, and (that) a client’s expectations are being met,” Benson said. “I surround myself with a lot smarter people when it comes to tax and accounting, from CPAs to . . . agents to masters in accounting.
“We’ve got a pretty high-level team. The way we are different from some other firms out there is the way we incorporate a team environment.”
That means involving all eight staff members in evaluating clients’ needs and making decisions. Benson started the business from scratch in September 2014 and has nurtured it to multiple accounts with his 32 clients. The 43-year-old counts athletes, actors, business owners, entertainers and writers among his clientele.
Benson named the business for his birthplace of Superior, Wis., where his father was an academic administrator at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Then it was on to Milledgeville, Ga., and Atlanta where dad continued work in academics.
As a Clemson junior in 1996, Benson rolled to a 14-0, 1.40 record with 178 strikeouts in 142 innings. He was the consensus top talent in that year’s draft and went No. 1 overall to the Pirates as the Tigers marched to the College World Series.
Before joining the Pirates, Benson suited up for Team USA at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. He signed on Aug. 11 for what was then a record $2 million in what was the first year of skyrocketing draft bonuses. Three years later, Benson finished fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.
He missed the 2001 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery but returned to pitch through the 2010 season for the Pirates, Mets, Orioles, Rangers and Diamondbacks. He went 70-75 with a 4.42 ERA, neither of which was as noteworthy as his trivia-contest fodder, off-field accomplishments and escapades.
Benson started the final game at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium in 2000, the first game at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park in 2003 and set a major league record for a pitcher with four sacrifice bunts in a game.
Levi Kelly Speeds Up His Timetable
Drafted out of high school last year, Kelly earned an assignment to low Class A Kane County with his performance and high maturity level.
He was a Roberto Clemente Award winner for community service with the Pirates. He won similar recognition with the Thurman Munson Award, Joan Payson Award and the New Jersey Sports Writers Humanitarian of the Year Award.
He also married Anna Benson, whom he met when she was a stripper in Nashville, where he played in 1998. The marriage ended in 2012 but not before making several back-page headlines in New York tabloids.
“That chapter is definitely over,” Benson said. “There’s not a lot of communication.”
Meanwhile, Benson now manages two teams: his family and his business. He has full custody of his children with Anna, P.J., Haylee and Devin. On a recent day, Benson caught a return flight from the West Coast, stopped by the local DMV and picked up Devin, who tagged along for a few hours of work in the SBM office.