Todd “Parney” Parnell isn’t from Montgomery. He doesn’t live in Montgomery. But he’s fallen in love with Montgomery, and as co-owner and President of the Montgomery Biscuits, he’s working hard to ensure current fans stay enamored with the team while also attracting new ones. These efforts, combined with a big personality and even bigger smile, are prompting the capital city to return the affection.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Locust, North Carolina, between Big Lick and Frog Pond, no lie. At 13, my family moved to Philadelphia. I now live in Richmond, Virginia, where I’m co-owner and operate the Richmond Flying Squirrels baseball team.
When did you get interested in baseball?
I’ve always loved all sports. Growing up, I successfully broke every window in our house by throwing balls and other sports objects through them. At some point, I was told I wasn’t good enough to move to the next level of play, so I transitioned into this side of things. I remember learning about “this side” early, when my dad took me to a minor league baseball game in Charlotte, North Carolina. There was a guy with a logo shirt on, doing promotions, talking to and laughing with fans. I asked my dad who that was and was that his job. My dad told me he was the general manager, and that he got paid to do those things. I thought that sounded like the greatest job in the universe.
How long have you been working in baseball?
This April will be my 30th season. I’ve been going to ballparks and doing the greatest job in the universe for three decades. My worst day is still better than many people’s best days.
Why buy the Biscuits?
In September 2016, I was in Birmingham for a conference, and my partner talked me into driving down here to check out the Biscuits. I was not very happy about it; I was ready to head home. But when I got here, as soon as I drove around the bend and saw downtown and the ballpark, it was a magical moment for me. I fell in love. After meeting with Sherrie, the previous owner, for several hours, I immediately told my partner, “We have to buy this team. It’s perfect for us.”
As President, what are your main duties?
Lou DiBella, my partner, is the managing partner. My job here is like the director of culture. I am here a week or so each month, and my role is to be a cheerleader and the face out front increasing recognition of the team and the brand. I’m the leader, but the guys doing the day-to-day here are doing the hard work. Brendon Porter is our COO and Mike Murphy is our General Manager. Both moved here from Virginia, so they are putting roots here.
What is your goal for the team?
One goal is to get crowds back to what they were in early days. We’ve increased attendance by 8 percent, and that sounds great, but that’s slow growth. We can do more, and I think this is going to be year we really see even more growth. We also have a strong commitment to be much more than a baseball team; we want to be an active business leader in the community. We want the ballpark to be a go-to spot in the community, not just for games, but for other events and outreach too. We’ve done several events here, like trick-or-treating in October, that turned out amazing. We believe doing those things for the community pays dividends. Our philosophy is to do the right thing. That’s how we connect with people, and that’s how we engage and encourage people to get involved with us.
What’s changed in minor league baseball?
Players have significantly changed. On the marketing side, everything has changed, and it changed after the movie “Bull Durham.” It showed that minor league baseball is about more than the game; it’s about promotions and crazy mascots and activities. The game is important, but everything else is too. We’re not just in the baseball business, not just in the entertainment business; we are in the memory-making business.
What do you love about your job?
For the three hours that people come here to a game, they forget their problems. They’re having fun, laughing at Big Mo, enjoying the fireworks. We are a baseball team, but we play a larger role in the quality of life in this community too. I love that.
What is your impression of Montgomery’s business climate?
I brag about it everywhere I go. The leader-ship on the political side is amazing, and the Chamber does an amazing job in multiple aspects.
“Parney” hopes that in the near future, when people think of Montgomery’s community partner, the Biscuits will be top of mind. He’s also striving for the continued growth of the attendance numbers at games.