Hairstylist to Ted Koppel? A breeze.
Century 21 agent in Gary, Ind.? Piece of cake.
Manners consultant to USA Hockey? A joy.
Try selling Florida Marlins tickets.
Since the Marlins won the world championship last October, they have been scaled, gutted and filleted. They are a 1997 Silver Shadow stripped down to crankshaft, half an axle and one wiper. Even before the hangovers lifted, owner Insane Wayne Huizenga, who had put the club up for sale last June, started selling off players like Nike stock. He traded 10 players, and three others are gone. Of his five starting pitchers from last year, only two are left. Wildly popular first baseman Jeff Conine? Gone. World Series hero Moises Alou? Gone. Ace righthander Kevin Brown? Gone.
The 1998 Florida Marlins: Come See the Uniforms That Won the World Series!
The Marlins today are a tattered piece of bunting hanging limply off a wall, a lonely hanger squeaking in the clubhouse air conditioning and the sound of a whole lot of phones not ringing. In the front office every day to not answer them is 31-year-old director of season-and group-ticket sales Lou De-Paoli, whose job is to sell seats on the Hindenburg.
DePaoli is perfect for it. He's the kind of guy who could come upon his house burning to the ground and get out the marsh-mallows. Since nobody is calling him and his staff, they are cold-calling people. "What we tell them is, 'Hey, it's still baseball,' " DePaoli says." 'It's still the crack of the bat! The green grass! The Cracker Jack!' C'mon, how can you beat that?"
The 1998 Florida Marlins: Hey, Look at It This Way—We're Still in the Majors!
Nobody in the history of ticket peddlers has had the kind of nightmare off-season DePaoli has—from Insane Wayne's Fire Sale to the new book portraying manager Jim Leyland as a foulmouthed, coffee-hopped chauvinist to team president Don Smiley's not being able to find enough saps to help him buy the club to the rumors that superstar Gary Sheffield and his $61 million contract are next to go. DePaoli has to deal with all this, plus a stadium that was the scene of 30 rain delays last season and was built for football.