By David Driver
Being heralded by 800,000 adoring Kansas City Royals fans as he walked a World Series victory parade route last fall, Jin Wong ’97 found himself in a far different place from Mary Washington’s dusty playing fields.
But it was as a baseball player and business administration major at Mary Washington that Wong received the guidance and developed the discipline that has taken him to the pinnacle of baseball.
He is assistant general manager/baseball administration for the World Series championship team. Kansas City won its first World Series title in 30 years on Nov. 1, 2015, beating the New York Mets to take the fall classic in five games.
“It was overwhelming,” Wong said. As for the parade, which he participated in with his wife, Libby, and sons Kai and Tate, “It was an amazing sight to see. Fans came out in droves.
“A championship brings every walk of life together. Everyone was wearing Royals blue,” Wong said. “I could not be more proud to be a part of it.”
Wong grew up in Northern Virginia and was an All-American center fielder at Mary Washington. As a senior, he went to Atlanta for a job interview with Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, who has worked for the Atlanta Braves since he retired as a player.
Wong became a baseball operations trainee with Atlanta. Then he landed a position with the minor league Richmond Braves, as a group sales manager. At one of the games, he crossed paths with Dayton Moore, now general manager of the Royals.
Moore, who then worked in the front office of the Atlanta Braves, was in Richmond to see the minor league affiliate. He let Wong know that a job was open with the Royals as scouting operations coordinator.
Wong got the job and has steadily moved up over 15 years in the Royals’ organization. In his current position, he not only assists Moore, Wong aids in contract negotiations, salary arbitration matters, and roster management.
Scott Sharp, Royals’ assistant general manager/baseball operations, has worked several years with Wong. “Jin is a tremendously driven and detailed individual who has talents that extend to all areas of a major league front office,” Sharp said.
Wong attributes much of his success to his College of Business academic adviser Larry Penwell, now professor emeritus of management and psychology. Penwell assisted Wong with the Braves application.
At UMW, Wong played for longtime coach Tom Sheridan, whom he described as “very strict.” Wong says he appreciates now the rigor instilled in him by Sheridan.
And he’s thankful the persistence of his Royals finally paid off.