Catie Griggs is here to listen and learn.
Seated in the Mariners’ press room, deep in the bowels of T-Mobile Park about an hour before Wednesday’s game between the Seattle Mariners and the Houston Astros, Griggs made it clear early.
“I want to know what you like, I want to know what you don’t like,” she said at her introductory news conference. “I want to know what it will take to make the Seattle Mariners the single best experience in the city of Seattle, and moreover in sports, to bring people together around the shared passion for the sport of baseball.”
On Wednesday, Mariners chairman and managing partner John Stanton introduced Griggs as the first president of business operations in franchise history. She is the first woman among MLB’s 30 clubs to hold this position and will begin with the team in mid-August.
Her appointment comes about four months after Stanton revealed the Mariners’ new leadership structure following the fallout of former president and CEO Kevin Mather’s abrupt resignation after highly controversial statements he made on a Zoom call to the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club emerged in February.
The new model splits baseball operations from business, with general manager Jerry Dipoto in charge of the former and Griggs taking the latter. Some of her new responsibilities include sales and marketing, human resources, the IT department, finance, communications, ballpark operations, and fan and community engagement.
Both will report directly to Stanton, and Griggs hopes to work closely with her baseball operations counterpart to make sure everything runs smoothly.
“Jerry and I actually had several hours together as part of this process, and I think the shared commonality there is both of us are very focused on winning,” she said. “What winning means for both of us is slightly nuanced, but I do believe there is a very symbiotic relationship.”
Griggs was selected by a search committee of 12 members, made up of Mariners’ front office staff and four local community members. The group was headed by Jeff Raikes, a member of the Mariners partnership group.
Stanton said the committee’s purpose was to lead a national, inclusive search for a “truly exceptional leader for the business operations of the Seattle Mariners.” The group considered more than 100 candidates, and Stanton said Griggs stood out due to her intelligence, ability to connect with people and commitment to innovation and communication.
“She cares,” he said. “She cares deeply about people, she cares deeply about the fans, but she also cares about the people in the front office.”
Similarly, Griggs was intrigued by the Mariners because she resonated with the team’s desire to find someone who brought more than just skill to the position. Both she and Stanton said they hope her values will transmit to create a unified culture throughout the different departments she will manage focused on inclusivity, passion for the team and the city, and community service.
Specifically, Griggs and Stanton both spoke about the Mariners’ commitment to diversity. It’s a stark contrast to Mather’s comments, where he complained about international players using translators and criticized the English of top-prospect Julio Rodriguez.
“I see no reason this should not be the most progressive team in baseball,” she said. “I think that’s low-hanging fruit, I think we can get there, I think there’s a path to do it. When I say progressive, yes, I do mean diversity, equity and inclusion, but I also mean about thinking forward from a technology standpoint. What are those new, emerging ways we can engage with our fans 24/7, 365.”
A baseball fan since she played in her local Little League as an 11-year-old, Griggs also has ties to the Pacific Northwest. She said her brother-in-law grew up on Mercer Island, and her sister lived in Fremont for years. Additionally, her father was born and raised in Portland, and she has family throughout Idaho, Montana and Oregon.
Griggs spent the past four years as the chief business officer for recent MLS expansion team Atlanta United, where she managed matchday production, the operation of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, broadcasting, attendance, community relations and developed the team’s relationship with supporter groups.
She also served as part of the executive leadership team for Atlanta United and Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s full family of businesses. On Wednesday, she made it clear that despite her experience, she needs to learn about the Emerald City and its fans first.
“I’m really excited to get to know the fans in Seattle because I don’t want to come in with, ‘This worked in Atlanta and therefore this is what we’ll do in Seattle,’” she said. “I don’t think that’s smart. But I do think it’s something where we look through the lens of who’s our fan of today, who’s our fan of tomorrow, and how do we make sure this is a welcoming environment for both of them.”
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that Griggs is the president of business operations, not baseball operations as originally stated in the headline.