Tyler Tumminia
Tyler Tumminia, Mount Saint Mary College Alumna and speaker at “Hit a Home Run with a Career in Sports.” (Photo provided by Mount Saint Mary College)

by Jac Bergenson

Not just anyone can call herself the best friend of the Yankees’ general manager and the wife of the Red Sox’s. Fewer, still, own a handful of baseball teams as well.

Mount Saint Mary College alumna Tyler Tumminia has made more than a name for herself since earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Mount. She returned to the school on Wednesday, Oct. 13, to share what she has learned since venturing into the “real world.”

The Hudson Hall auditorium was packed from the front-row seats to the back wall; the crowd of professors, athletes, and scholars buzzed in anticipation of the presentation, “Hit a Home Run with a Career in Sports.”

When Dr. Irene Nunnari, professor emerita, introduced Tumminia, the crowd listened with rapt attention. Nunnari customarily listed the guest’s achievements and honors. The list was extensive and included the 2008 Roland Hemond Award, which is given annually to baseball executives who show a commitment to scouting and the history of the sport.

But Nunnari shared some of her own memories of Tumminia as well. Tumminia had assisted her in setting up a faculty party years back. Nunnari recalled with a smile that Tumminia “arrived fashionably dressed, and early.”

“Even then, we knew that Tyler was going to make it in this world,” Nunnari said.

With that, the floor was Tumminia’s. Rick Zolzer, a colleague of Tumminia’s and representative of the Hudson Valley Renegades, conversed with her about her experiences, her motivations, and her advice for the students.

When asked what skills she looks for from a prospective hire, Tumminia wasted no time blurting out, “You know what we’re desperate for? Writing.”

The professors of the Division of Arts and Letters cheered enthusiastically at the answer.

Further, Tumminia shared that she does not look for any particular degree or activities. Rather, she believes “cohesiveness with teammates is important.”

Although she has succeeded at rocket pace, Tumminia revealed that her path to success was not always easy. “I left a six-figure job to make six-hundred bucks a month,” she told of her move to the Renegades organization.

Tumminia had been working at a crisis-management firm in Boston when she returned to the Hudson Valley. The daughter of a scout for the Chicago White Sox, her heart was in baseball. Tumminia did odd jobs for the Renegades before becoming their director of public relations.

As director of public relations, Tumminia received a great level of autonomy with which she created memorable promotions like “Be Your Own Fan,” which encourages fans to embrace their individuality, as well as a free cup night in which fans unexpectedly received a ventilated jock supporter with free refills all night long.

“Sometimes, you do have to move backwards in life in order to move forward,” Tumminia said.

Public relations was not always a part of her plan. “I actually went here to become a teacher,” she said, but couldn’t make her way “five minutes into a fifth-grade class.”

Mentors like the late Professor Hawthorne, who left her his book collection upon his retirement, made a lasting impression on Tumminia. “He made me work, but he left a good mark,” she said.

The Mount helped launch Tumminia toward a lengthy and productive career, but throughout the night, students learned that self-initiative is as important as any instruction. Between what Zolzer called “throws like Nolan Ryan” and a tenacious ambition, she has risen to the top of her industry.

“It’s a tough industry, let alone for a female,” Tumminia shared.

As a kid, “going to those games [at Dutchess Stadium]” were her fondest sports memories.

Now, Tumminia organizes the events at Dutchess Stadium, and her career path has brought her what she calls “once in a lifetime experiences,” like sitting before “millions of people” at the 2013 World Series victory parade in Boston.

On public relations, Tumminia explains, “You’re selling a brand.”

After Wednesday night, the students who attended Tumminia’s presentation are buying.