Gibault grad having a blast with the Astros

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Brendan Fournie

With the trajectory of a rocket, Gibault Catholic High School graduate Brendan Fournie has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the ranks of sports management.

The current manager of baseball operations for the defending World Series champion Houston Astros was cooking concession stand hot dogs for the Gateway Grizzlies nearly six years ago, and dancing on top of dugouts for a minor league team in Florida more recently than that.

In the end, though, it was all worth it.

“Working for the Houston Astros has been a dream come true,” Fournie said.

Brendan, the son of Mike and Pam Fournie of Naples, Fla., formerly of Columbia, attended Immaculate Conception School through eighth grade before moving on to Gibault. He credits both his parents and the quality educators at both Catholic schools for his success.

“My parents have been my greatest mentors, and I owe any successes to them,” Fournie said. “The teachers and staff at both schools sincerely cared and invested in my growth and education. (ICS principal) Mike Kish, (Gibault principal) Russ Hart and (Gibault math teacher and baseball coach) Andy Skaer have all been tremendous role models for me, and I try to stay in touch with each of them as much as I can.”

The 2010 Gibault grad played baseball and soccer for the Hawks in addition to participating in student council, Model United Nations and band.

Fournie went to University of Missouri for his undergraduate studies, graduating cum laude in 2014 with dual bachelor’s degrees in finance and banking and sports management.

He went on to earn a master’s degree in sports management at the University of Florida in 2015, minoring in both statistics and entrepreneurship.

“My baseball journey began during high school, when I worked for the event staff at GCS Ballpark for the Gateway Grizzlies, mostly serving concessions to fans,” Fournie said.

Following his freshman year of college, Fournie continued working at GCS Ballpark while also coaching Gibault’s summer junior varsity baseball team.

In 2012, the Grizzlies hired Fournie as a stadium operations intern. He managed event staff and also cooked the majority of the stadium’s concession food.

“I cooked a lot of hot dogs that summer,” Fournie said with a laugh.

Fournie accepted an internship with the Fort Myers Miracle of the Florida State League in 2013, performing a wide range of jobs for the minor league team.

“In this position, I completed any task ranging from mascot appearances to dancing on top of dugouts,” he said.

It was at the University of Florida where things really began to click for Fournie.

“I volunteered for the Florida baseball team, creating split-stat advance reports for upcoming opponents,” he said. “During my time at UF, I met one of my mentors, Dr. Brian Mills.”

Dr. Mills, a UF professor in the sports management program, introduced Fournie to the online baseball research community. He also introduced Fournie to his current boss and mentor, Brandon Taubman, who now serves as senior director of baseball operations and analytics for the Astros.

“Without Dr. Mills, it’s safe to say I would not be working in baseball operations,” Fournie said.

Upon his graduation from Florida, Fournie accepted a full-time baseball operations apprenticeship with the Astros in January 2016. Following the apprenticeship, Fournie was promoted to baseball operations coordinator in November 2016.

He was promoted to his current position last August.

league club, coordinating player promotions or demotions and disabled list assignments. He also provides economic valuations of players and assists in arbitration negotiations.

“Brandon Taubman has provided countless contributions to my personal and professional development,” Fournie said. “I continue to owe everything to him.”

The excitement of moving into a key front office position for the Astros was coupled with the fact that the team was heading for the postseason. This ultimately resulted in the team’s first World Series championship.

“The entire month of October was a crazy, exciting, and surreal experience that I’ll never forget,” Fournie said. “Obviously, all of the credit goes to (general manager) Jeff Luhnow, Brandon Taubman, and other executives, but I’m very thankful I was able to contribute in any capacity.

“The Astros are an amazing organization, and the city of Houston is an awesome place to live. It’s hard to ask for anything more.”

Fournie is the third Gibault grad currently working in key positions for major league baseball clubs.

Craig Unger, a 1995 Gibault grad, serves as president and general manager of the Memphis Redbirds, the Triple A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Redbirds were Pacific Coast League champions last year. Unger formerly worked in corporate sales and marketing with the Cardinals.

Kevin Seats, a 2006 Gibault grad, serves as a quantitative analyst with the Cardinals. He obtained his doctorate in geophysics from Stanford University in 2010.

“Among other achievements, he developed an algorithm to tell the difference between earthquakes and manmade events like nuclear bomb testings,” Hart said of his former student. “He combined his love of baseball and his academic talents and jumped into analytics/sabermetrics for the Cardinals.”

As for Fournie, Hart also holds fond memories of his time as a Hawk.

“He is part of one of my favorite memories while here at Gibault,” Hart said. “He and a friend (Cole Blechle) started Basketball for Babies, a three-on-three tournament to benefit our local pregnancy care clinic. Totally a grass roots effort, completely run by students and held each year in our gym. Still going strong.”

Hart added that famed college basketball TV analyst Dick Vitale found out about the tournament and sent Brendan a book and a letter to Hart that simply stated “It’s all about the Babies, baby!”

“These guys are living the dream, and deservedly so,” Hart said of the three successful Gibault grads. “We are so proud that they are Hawks.”

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