Volume 75, Number 10 | July 27 - Aug. 2, 2005

Sports

Nina Greenberg with Michael Jordan

Top athletes trust her to organize the main event

By Judith Stiles

Nina Greenberg’s nephews know how to bake delicious bread, while her own daughters, Lauren, 12 years old, and Nicole 8, know how to read box scores and have very strong opinions about what’s happening in Major League Baseball. The beauty of children growing up today is that gender expectations have loosened and Lauren and Nicole have no problem telling their mom they would much rather meet Chad Pennington of the Jets than go shopping for clothes at the mall. In fact, Lauren was thrilled to meet Chad on his recent visit to Major League Events, a business owned by Greenberg and partners Brennen Strine and Britt Mayer.

Located at Lafayette and Prince Sts., Major League Events boasts blue-chip corporate clients, such as FedEx Kinko’s, however they are largely devoted to organizing and promoting fundraising events hosted by professional athletes, who in Greenberg’s words, “just want to give back to the community.”

Pennington’s 1rst and 10 Foundation hosted a fun night of bowling with high-profile NFL players, such as Lavernaeus Coles and Jerald Sowell of the Jets, in West Virginia where Pennington grew up. The foundation’s mission is to raise money to “build stronger communities by assisting programs and institutions that seek to improve quality of life, as well as support leukemia research and patient/family services.” What seemed simple, just an evening of bowling with football superstars, really took months of preparation and oversight by Greenberg, who is a well-known master at putting together top-notch fundraising events.

Every detail, from finding sponsors to locating auction items to travel arrangements, required so much work, that in the end, Greenberg amassed a notebook over 7 inches thick recording all the planning. Greenberg thought of every detail to make it a smooth event, including wonderful gift baskets for the wives to make them feel included in the event. The fun part was when she got to pick out awesome memorabilia and signed jerseys for the auction from sportsmen such as Arnold Palmer, Yao Ming and Don Mattingly.

Since the founding of her company, Greenberg worked for and rubbed elbows with world-class athletes, including Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, Mike Piazza, Randy Johnson, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez and Rafael Palermo, to name just a few. She has easily gained the trust of many of these athletes, who have called on Greenberg to help them relocate their homes and families. For example, when Randy Johnson moved to New York with four children, she was enlisted to help furnish their new home, find camps for the kids and even more equipment for Johnson’s drum set, which is his other passion in life besides baseball.

Greenberg has often found herself sitting in exclusive restaurants, at quiet tables, as she holds her own talking sports with these popular athletes. She takes their confidences seriously and is extremely respectful not to discuss their private issues with anyone else. Besides, she would much rather spend dinner chatting about the ups and downs of the Yankees, as she even has a few (humble) suggestions for Joe Torre.

One of her greatest moments since her company was founded in l994 was when one of her clients, Kirby Puckett, invited her to attend his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Aug. 5, 2001. Thoroughly elated and with smiling eyes, she recalls all the details of what she describes as her “most rewarding moment” related to her business. As his eyes watered up, Puckett gave a moving speech about his life in baseball during the Hall of Fame ceremony in Cooperstown, and Greenberg was honored to be there for the experience.

What’s next for Greenberg? She is warming up in the bullpen, getting ready to organize the annual Anheuser-Busch “Homerunado,” a scholarship fund set up for Hispanic youth. This is a project that Greeenberg passionately supports because it provides funds for thousands of local youths who are struggling to meet the financial burden of attending college. And when Greenberg takes a break from “Homerunado,” you might find her playing soccer with the soccer moms at Pier 40 on a cool summer’s night. Sometimes she brings along daughters Lauren and Nicole, who unanimously agree that a night out for soccer is much more fun than staying home and let’s say...baking a loaf of bread.

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