Now Batting: Greg Galiette
Greg Galiette Is Living His Dream As Executive Vice President of the Louisville Bats
Writer / Carrie Vittitoe
Photographer Bruce Hardin
The east end of 2021 is vastly different from the east end of the mid-1950s. Where a drive down Shelbyville Road now takes you past gas stations, restaurants, boutiques, big box stores and frequently through mind-boggling traffic. A drive in the 50s and 60s might have seemed downright idyllic: farmland dotted with sheep or cows, widely spaced utility poles, a hardware store, a diner, and a Hudson Wasp or Simca Vedette rambling down the road. As a kid growing up, Greg Galiette was able to experience those blissful conditions.
“I actually have photos of our house down on Westwood. You could see all the way up to the high school because a lot of the houses up toward that part of the subdivision hadn’t been built yet,” he says. “I remember going to St. Matthews for grocery shopping because there was no grocery in Middletown at the time.”
He would often ride his bike the six miles to Floyd’s Fork to fish or hang out at Wish’s Drugs, where he and his friends would buy candy, soft drinks, or baseball cards. He eventually worked as a lifeguard at Cox’s Lake and would ride his bike to work.
“Obviously, you don’t dare do that now with the traffic,” he says.
Galiette recalls how the children would have basketball tournaments in which kids from one street would compete against children from another street. It wasn’t unusual during the summer for 15-20 kids, ranging in age from elementary to high school, to play softball games. Galiette would frequently play in the creek behind his house where he would catch crawdads and salamanders.
He distinctly recalls his first day of first grade. His father had died from Hodgkin’s lymphoma when Galiette was only five years old, and he remembers, “I did not want to be at school.” His mom had driven him that morning, but it was close enough to walk home so he simply left school and beat his mother home.
“I was waiting for her on my front porch when she pulled in,” he says. “She was not happy.”
His mother was a professional artist but sometimes worked as a substitute teacher. He remembers a day during his senior year when his mom subbed in his accounting class, which his friends greeted with delight.
“They thought they would get away with murder,” he says, but his mom had different plans. “A lot of them cut the class, and my mom turned them in. They thought, ‘There’s no way Mrs. Galiette’s going to turn us in.’ My friends did not like me for about two months.”
Greg Galiette has always loved sports, from the neighborhood pickup games to basketball in junior high. His first love, though, was football, but four broken bones in youth league, including in his wrist, put an end to that sport. He was on the varsity track team as a seventh grader and was talented enough in discus and javelin to earn a partial scholarship to the University of Louisville.
“I finished second in the state in discus my senior year,” he says. Despite his past wrist injuries, Galiette says weight-lifting in high school helped build strength in his arms and wrists.
“I could always throw things,” he says. “It always came easy to me.”
Not only did Galiette succeed in sports, he also ended up meeting his wife, Kelly, while there, although he admits she dated one of his best friends. Galiette waited about a year after their breakup before asking her out.
He entered the University of Louisville with the intention of being pre-law, but switched to political science and finally landed on business with an emphasis in marketing. During his time at U of L, he continued to date Kelly and lived at home with his mom. In addition to studying, he worked three jobs during his junior and senior years. He worked at Country Animal Hospital, American Fitness as a personal fitness instructor, and as a gym manager at a Gold’s Gym.
“The days were pretty long,” he says. “I’d pack a huge cooler each day and start driving.”
Galiette always dreamed of working in professional sports and even had a family connection.
“My uncle was the play-by-play voice of Yale football for 33 years and was on ESPN for a few years when they first came on in the late 70s,” he says.
After graduating from U of L, he began a job at Xerox in sales, but says “I was already starting to pester A. Ray Smith, the gentleman who brought professional baseball back to Louisville in 1982, and I guess I finally wore him down,” he says.
In the fall of 1984, Galiette became a sales intern for the Redbirds. His family thought he was nuts because he took a sizable pay cut from his position at Xerox, but after more than three decades, he is glad he took the leap to chase his dream.
Galiette is in his 37th year with the Louisville Bats Baseball Club and has “done just about everything” for the organization, from season ticket group sales to assistant general manager to his current role of executive vice president.
“I was even the ticket office manager for a few years at Cardinal Stadium and have some great memories from there when we had the Grateful Dead concert and the Rolling Stones,” he says.
For a time, the organization owned both the baseball team and a professional hockey team called the Louisville Riverfrogs. Even though Galiette and his colleagues loved it, they worked constantly. Since selling the hockey franchise, they’ve strictly focused on baseball.
During the off-season, Galiette says he sells ads and works on sponsorships, while during the regular season, he is the face and voice of the Bats. He serves as a liaison between the front office and the coaches and team. He is also responsible for putting together a promotional schedule.
“Never is one day the same as the other,” he says.
Some weeks he puts in 85-90 hours a week in the summertime.
“I’m very fortunate to have a wonderful wife who’s very understanding,” he says.
When asked about how covid has affected the Bats, Greg Galiette said, “Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been a challenge not only for our team but all minor league baseball teams as we all are pretty much a small business. Imagine any small business not having revenue coming in like we have had to deal with since our last game back on September 3, 2019. That’s a long time to go without consistent revenue coming in. So, we had to adjust and reduce our staff from our usual 38 employees down to just 6. That meant that those of us that remained had to wear multiple hats as we tried to keep the business and the ball park going. We basically relied on online sales from our Team Store, some summer youth baseball tournaments and VIP batting practice experiences to continue to operate our business.”
There is always a silver lining however, which Galliette was quick to acknowledge. “The only real good development that evolved over the extent of the COVID pandemic for us was the fact that the ball park renovations that began right before the virus broke out last March continued on each day uninterrupted because there were no baseball games. So our timeline for completion of the extensive renovations that have taken place here sped up quite a bit. So that now the renovations should be pretty much completed by this coming summer rather than the spring of 2022.”