Editor’s Note: On October 12, 2010, longtime director of ticket operations Frank Maloney announced he would retire at the end of 2010.
Over a cup of coffee and some cake, Frank relayed to the publications department that he was comfortable with retirement and that we might soon find him cruising down the Rhine or Danube River.
Known casually among the front office as “The Coach,” Frank has always been accessible and taken care of his employees and colleagues with the utmost respect and diligence. I was fortunate enough to write a short story about Frank in the January 2001 issue:
As a football coach, Frank Maloney lived by the philosophy of being firm but fair. And as the Cubs’ director of ticket operations, Maloney’s convictions haven’t changed. The only difference now is, he doesn’t make his sales staff run sprints.
“What I always tried to do with my players and now with my staff is to be firm but fair,” Maloney, 58, said. “Everyone has their own dignity, and you’ve got to respect that. Most of my players would say that I was a very tough coach. But I was even and fair.”
Out of high school, Maloney earned a scholarship to the University of Michigan as a center/inside linebacker and played three years for the maize and blue. After returning to Chicago for law school at Northwestern University, Maloney made ends meet by serving as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Mt. Carmel High School.
When its head coach quit shortly after, Maloney at the tender age of 21, was the man in charge. For Maloney, it was goodbye law career.
He might strike someone as more of a cuddly, gray-haired grandpa than a coach roaming the sidelines, barking out play calls. In his earlier days, however, Maloney served as head football coach not only at his alma mater (1963-67), but also as an assistant coach at Michigan (1968-73) and head coach at Syracuse University (1973-80). But in an industry where 15-hour days were the norm, Maloney could recognize when enough was enough.
“I coached for 19 years….I don’t want to say that I was burned out. That wouldn’t be correct. But it’s a tough business, and I wanted to get back to Chicago,” Maloney said. “If you’re in it–I’m talking at the college and pro levels–you’ve got to consider you’re going to be moving a lot.”
Now living in Orland Park, Ill., a suburb on the South Side of Chicago, Maloney continues to bring the same enthusiasm and people skills he had while coaching to managing the Cubs’ ticket office. Maloney came to the Cubs in 1981 and was named director of ticket operations in 1987.
The challenges in running the ticket office has given Maloney a way to continue doing what he loved most about coaching–working with young people.
“One of the things I like about my job is working with young people, of which I have many on my staff,” Maloney said. “One of the things I learned through coaching is you always want your people to get ahead. I encourage my people to always be looking for new challenges out there knowing they will always have my support.”
It is perhaps that vigor that gets most of the ticket staff through riotous game-day duties. “On a daily basis [at the ticket window] there are problems. From lost tickets, stolen tickets, scalpers. It’s an ongoing process–maintaining fairness but also remembering to be customer- service oriented.”
And on several occasions, the ticket office has resembled a zoo.
“One of the amazing things was the night before the 1998 wild-card [one-game] playoff. To sit by these windows and watch them coming across the street pouring out of the bars…it was like the running of the bulls in Pamplona,” Maloney said. “I enjoy being here as much as being anywhere else. I’m not the kind of guy who likes to stay home and tinker with stuff.”