2020 InducteeCentral Florida Sports Hall of Fame
There are 1,212 miles separating Lakeland, Florida and Flint, Michigan.
But you’d never know that Ron Myers’ hometown wasn’t in Polk County.
Born and raised in Flint, Myers has tirelessly given back to the community he first came to after college.
After graduating in 1980 with his bachelor’s degree in communications from Central Michigan University, Myers went to work for the minor league Lakeland Tigers and their owner, Frank Decker, with dreams of pursuing a job in Major League Baseball. By 1993, Ron had risen to Vice President and General Manager of the team. He left the Tigers to pioneer the first in-house marketing department for Minor League Baseball. He would go on to take positions in arena football, the PGA and the NBA before coming back to baseball as the Director of Corporate Sales for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
But true to his Michigan roots, Myers couldn’t stay away from the Tigers.
He returned to the organization in 2003 as the Director of Florida Operations, and was focused on updating and refining the fan experience during the recent nearly $50 million renovation of the Spring Training home of the Tigers. Since the renovation three years ago, Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium has been named the “Best Ballpark in the Grapefruit League” by Ballpark Digest numerous times and is noted for the innovative use of space and expanded active children’s areas.
Less known have been the contributions Myers have made to Polk County sports behind the scenes.
“Any time I have a request, somehow he comes through,” said Dan Talbot, the athletic director for Polk County. “He’s been one of the biggest supporters Polk County public schools sports have had.”
One example Talbot gave was the various high schools games Myers allows at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium.
“He not only lets us hold the Polk County High School All-Star Game, which is a great thrill for the kids, but also the Florida Athletic Coaches Association All-Star Game, which brings kids from around the state,” he said. “He’s done so much good for Polk County athletics, it is hard to describe.”
Ron was also instrumental in the formation of an annual Spring Training game between Southeastern University and the Detroit Tigers, a new tradition only disrupted this year by COVID.
“When you first meet Ron, you get the impression of an ‘all-business, no nonsense’ type of guy. I appreciate that about him because it’s a big reason for his success,” said Drew Watson, the athletic director for SEU. “But one thing I started to see as I got to know him while working on the SEU-Tigers deal is that he has a tremendous heart for the community and the people in it.”
Foremost in Ron’s mind, according to Watson, was the experience the students would have.
“He was always looking for ways to give our students the best possible experience,” said Watson. “That’s just who he is.”
Jackie Johnson, the senior vice president of the Lakeland Convention and Visitors Bureau for the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce, has called Ron Myers a friend for more than 40 years.
“He’s more than just the Florida face of the Detroit Tigers,” said Jackie Johnson. “Ron works tirelessly to promote the Detroit Tigers and the Lakeland Flying Tigers, but he also contributes his time and energy to helping so many of the non-profit organizations in our community.”
Examples shared by Johnson include Myers having served as the chair for the American Heart Association two years ago, and attended the dinner event with a friend who had recently underwent open heart surgery. She said he is a regular supporter of Volunteers in Service to the Elderly (VISTE), supporting the organization with a variety of unique baseball memorabilia. The Tigers also support 26 different Little League baseball and softball teams throughout the county.
“He is always the first to volunteer with a special need arises, and truly enjoys helping young children in need experience the wonder of baseball,” said Johnson. “Ron’s huge heart has no boundaries—just like his life.”