Cubs corner: When Rogers and Sacks were young
October 16th, 2017
This story was first published in the Chicago Sun-Times but it’s worth revisiting as the Cubs return to Chicago for game three of the MLB Championship series.
Before John Rogers Jr. and Michael Sacks became notable names on the financial scene, they worked for the Chicago Cubs.
“It was one of the most transformative experiences of my life,” says Rogers, the founder, chairman and CEO of Ariel Investments. He’s also a friend of President Barack Obama’s.
“I grew up in the cloistered Hyde Park environment,” he says. In working for the Cubs six years, starting at age 16, “I got exposed to a whole other part of the world, a whole other part of Chicago (where) people from all walks of life rubbed shoulder to shoulder. It was a different experience.” Rogers also was a vendor at White Sox and Bears games.
The job was a precursor to Rogers’ career in the financial industry. “You’d strategize and have a game plan that day and try to out-maneuver your fellow vendors,” he says.
One of them was Sacks, the chairman and CEO of GCM Grosvenor, another financial firm in Chicago.
“I sold Coca Cola and peanuts at Wrigley, Comiskey (Park) and Soldier Field. It was a great job,” says Sacks, who today counts Mayor Rahm Emanuel as a good friend. “The harder you worked the more money you made. The people were great and you could keep an eye on the games.”
Both businessmen were members of SEUI 236–Rogers still carries his union card with him.
Rogers and Sacks have continued to work in the same circles. They are both major supporters of Obama’s presidential campaigns and they now serve on the board of the Barack Obama Foundation.
Ariel Vice Chairman Charles Bobrinskoy and Grosvenor Vice Chairman Paul Meister also worked as vendors back in the day.
Sacks and Rogers say those early work experiences are a good ice-breaker when talking to anyone associated with the Cubs. Says Rogers: “I met Ernie Banks and it was fun to say I worked at Wrigley Field, too.”