Caroline O’Connor’s career path has always been business-oriented. One of her passions, though, has always been sports.
“I was an avid baseball fan growing up,” O’Connor said. “When it was spring, it was time to go to baseball games. Definitely was always a fan.”
So when the opportunity came in 2017 to work for the Miami Marlins and mix business with passion, she didn’t pass it up.
Five years later, O’Connor has risen to the top position in her department. The Marlins on Monday promoted O’Connor to president of business operations. She had previously served as the team’s chief operating officer since 2019 after originally holding the title of senior vice president and chief of staff when she was hired in 2017.
“We are fortunate to have someone with Caroline’s business acumen and vision leading our day-to-day business operations,” Marlins chairman and principal owner Bruce Sherman said in a statement. “Her passion and drive for success is unmatched in our game and the South Florida market. Her leadership will continue to guide the Marlins organization toward our goal of sustained success while strategizing additional new ventures to grow our business and enhance our brand recognition.”
O’Connor took on a more heightened role in the Marlins’ business operations last season after CEO and minority owner Derek Jeter abruptly left in February. Now, she has a new title to reflect as much.
The Marlins, who are led on the baseball side by general manager Kim Ng, are the first team across the United States’ top four sports leagues to have women operating the entirety of the team’s day-to-day operations.
O’Connor is just the second woman to serve as president of an MLB team along with the Seattle Mariners’ Catie Griggs.
“I think that’s huge,” O’Connor said. “Bruce has put a lot of trust in us. He really looks at merit and who can do the job. Really excited about it. I think it makes our organization unique and stand out and shows what women can do and the roles they can hold.”
In her new role, O’Connor will oversee all of the Marlins’ business operations. This includes sales; partnerships; marketing; human resources; diversity, equity and inclusion; finance; legal; communications; community outreach; technology; security; ballpark facilities; and special projects.
“Some things are going to change a lot,” said O’Connor, who graduated from Rutgers University with her bachelor’s degree in computer information systems and received her master’s of business administration in finance from the New York University Stern School of Business. She spent five years as managing director at Morgan Stanley and six years as director at UBS Investment Bank before joining the Marlins. “I’m going to continue working closely with Bruce, but Bruce has kind of said he wants to see me drive the organization forward and trust my instincts for the path that we’ve talked about together for moving the organization forward. It’s a lot more directing.”
Under O’Connor’s leadership, the Marlins developed strategic initiatives to increase revenue streams and exposure to Marlins baseball and loanDepot park. Attendance rose at loanDepot park by 12 percent last season compared to 2019 — the last season the ballpark permitted full-capacity seating for the whole year — although the Marlins still ranked just 29th in average in 2022 with an average announced crowd of 11,203 per game.
She has guided plans to continue the organization’s investment in the Marlins’ baseball facilities in South Florida and the Dominican Republic. loanDepot park will be a host site for all three rounds of the World Baseball Classic in March, becoming the first venue to do so. The ballpark will also host the Caribbean Series in February 2024, marking the first time the event will take place at an MLB facility. The team also recently unveiled a new, $15 million academy and development complex in the Dominican Republic.
Locally, she has also had a focus on integrating sports at the youth level community most notably through the Marlins’ tee-ball initiative, which has nearly doubled in size since it was established in 2019.
In addition to her role with the Marlins, O’Connor is a member of the Florida Council of 100 and sits on the board of directors of the Florida Sports Foundation, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade County. She was recognized in 2021 as an Influential Businesswoman by the South Florida Business Journal.
As of now, the Marlins do not plan to hire a new chief operating officer.
This story was originally published November 14, 2022 9:41 AM.