MINNESOTA—Paul Kirwin said he wasn’t nervous walking across the pristinely cut infield toward the pitcher’s mound in front of 32,351 fans Monday night at Target Field. The president and CEO of AmericInn donned a Minnesota Twins jersey with “AMERICINN” inscribed across the back and was about to throw out the first pitch of a matchup between the Twins and Boston Red Sox.
His calm was amazing … yet understood. Kirwin is confident—in himself, his team of executives and his brand.
“We’re a Minnesota-based brand. This is where it all started,” Kirwin said of AmericInn. “Going to a Twins game is something that’s very Minnesota right now.”
Kirwin says he’s a baseball fan, but he admits he’s not a “fanatic.” He attributes that to the fact that he grew up in Washington, D.C., where he watched the Washington Senators leave and become the Texas Rangers.
Yet, he said tossing the first pitch was a great experience.
Kirwin said the field was impressive—the green of the grass and the roar of the crowd. And AmericInn conference attendees got a heck of game Monday, as a two-out home run in the ninth gave Boston the edge, 6-5.
As far as the pitch—which just might have skipped over home plate—Kirwin said it’s harder than it looks.
“It is a long way and in order to make sure I didn’t end up throwing it 10 feet off target I was cautious,” he said. “When you have to get it there and into a small target, you realize why people get paid a lot of money to do this.”
As much as it is a learning opportunity, Kirwin said AmericInn’s annual brand conference is an opportunity for GMs to network and share best practices. “It’s the one time a year we all get together to talk about how we accomplish our objectives,” Kirwin said. AmericInn is a Midwest brand and its operators have Midwest values, which is why attending a baseball game as a networking event was a great fit.
“It was fun to represent our brand. I got to take our three ‘GM of the Year’ finalists out onto the field, and they enjoyed that,” he said. “As a business person, we got to walk through the ‘back of house’ and it reminded me that this is a business like ours that relies on a lot of people. It all has to come together. It’s not an easy thing to put together a game for 40,000 people.”