Brewers promote Wronski, who becomes MLB's only female COO

December 2nd, 2022

MILWAUKEE -- Marti Wronski, the Brewers’ longtime general counsel who has taken on an expanded role in recent years, was reading with interest a recent profile of Caroline O'Connor, who’d been promoted to president of business operations by the Marlins.

Great for baseball, Wronski thought. But a bit of a surprise, too, in that O'Connor was only the second woman in MLB with so senior a title on the business side for a Major League team. She followed the Mariners' hiring of Catie Griggs as president of business ops in the summer of 2021.

Now, Wronski finds herself in that small group of top female MLB executives. The Brewers promoted her to chief operating officer on Friday, making her the only woman in MLB to hold that title and the highest-ranking female executive for the Brewers since Wendy Selig-Prieb was running the team from the late 1990s through the sale to Mark Attanasio.

“I've worked in a predominantly male sport, and I've had these awesome men and women that I've worked for where [gender] has not needed to be highlighted. I never feel like somebody's trying to put the ceiling there,” Wronski said. “But look, I can't close my eyes and be ignorant to the fact that it is something unique.

“When that article came out two weeks ago, I was surprised about it because the numbers were still what they were. I would say it's disappointing, but at the same time, what I think I'm most excited about is to sort of be part of this movement in the right direction. There is no doubt that right now in baseball, regardless if it's the business or the baseball side, we’re looking for the best and brightest talent.”

Wronski knows, because as part of her many responsibilities, she oversees a human resources department that has been undergoing a modernization. Her promotion was one of two major front-office moves Friday; Jason Hartlund was also promoted to executive vice president and chief commercial officer.

Born in Neenah, Wis., Wronski graduated summa cum laude from St. Norbert College in 1994 and with honors from the University of Wisconsin Law School in '97. She went to work at the law firm Foley & Lardner and was a member of the faculty at Marquette University, where she remains an adjunct professor for both the law school and MBA program.

The Brewers hired Wronski in 2004 as general counsel, and for a time, she was the team’s only in-house lawyer. (Today, the team employs two additional lawyers plus a paralegal.) Wronski and her husband, Andy, saw their family grow to four boys and one famous dog, Hank, a stray who found his way into the Brewers’ Spring Training complex and players’ and fans’ hearts in '14. He eventually settled with the Wronskis in Bayside, Wis., and while he’s moving slower in old age, Hank is very much alive and with the family today.

Wronski’s purview has expanded significantly since her start with the Brewers. In November 2017, she was promoted to general counsel and senior vice president of administration, and she came to oversee the legal, information technology, human resources and business analytics departments. Just as on the baseball side, analytics have become a significant force in the way the Brewers operate in baseball’s smallest media market.

“First of all, Marti's promotion was based on merit, based on ability and judgment and experience, not on gender,” said Brewers president of business operations Rick Schlesinger. “But the reality in our profession is that women are not represented anywhere close to the numbers we'd like to see. That's the business side and the baseball side.

“If a young woman is looking to get into baseball, and they see somebody like Marti, maybe that will inspire them to say, 'Listen, it's not just the old boys' club.'”

The Brewers are in the middle of a pivotal period on the business side as teams emerge from the financial stresses brought on by the pandemic, and on the baseball side as new baseball ops head Matt Arnold navigates a sea of impending decisions for players nearing free agency. Schlesinger cited encouraging signs in group sales, an area that has taken a particular hit as a result of the pandemic. Group sales are particularly critical to the club's business success, because the American Family Field roof allows the Brewers to draw from across the state of Wisconsin, explaining how one of the sport's smallest markets often ranks in the top half in attendance.

This season will mark Wronski’s 20th with the Brewers.

“We're moving in the right way,” she said, acknowledging her unique standing as one of MLB’s top-ranked female execs. “As much as we kind of cringe to be talking about it in 2022, it's OK, because this is part of what we wanted to see. I love it, and I'm truly honored and thrilled to be a piece of that forward movement. I'm grateful I have had the career I have. And we're going to keep that going.”