My Relationship with Justin Verlander

Ever since the following picture came out in the Spring of 2016, I would get the occasional call from a reporter or an email from a client asking me, “Just how well do you know Justin Verlander?” And until recently, I simply shrugged it off and down played the obvious implications of the question.  For the most part, the curiosity of the moment abated, and I was free from the question for another 2-6 weeks.



The obvious reaction would be, “Ron if you worked with Justin, why wouldn’t you put that all over social media?  It would HAVE to help your business.  Today we live in this instant marketing age of celebrity and you need to get your name out there… a lot.”



There are multiple reasons we made a conscious choice as an organization not to use social media in that specific way.  First and foremost, it is our opinion at the Texas Baseball Ranch® that the selfie/ look at me/ notice me culture itself is actually harmful for our society at large and we aspire to do things differently.  Therefore, when MLB players or organizations visit the Ranch Consortium (Texas & Florida Baseball Ranches) or we visit them, you won’t read about the meeting or interaction on our social channels unless they post it first.


Does that possibly hurt or constrain our business?


Possibly.  In the short term, it could limit the business, but the Ranch Consortium’s goal is to still be positively affecting the state of training baseball players fifty years from today.  So, we refer to our decision-making process as playing what Simon Sinek refers to as the ‘infinite game’.  Our focus is not in comparing ourselves to our so called ‘competition’ but instead to channel 100% of our energies into constant, never ending, incremental self-improvement over the long haul.  


This Spring, the questions and requests for interviews about my relationship with Justin Verlander became regular enough that I thought it was best to address them and “not let rumors fester into facts” as the late Robin Williams quipped in the movie The Dead Poets Society.


There are 3 reasons I have not previously addressed my relationship with Justin Verlander:


#1. Our work with high profile athletes like Trevor Bauer, CJ Wilson, Raul Ibanez, Scotty Kazmir, Chien-Ming Wang, Tyson Ross, Bud Norris, Barry Zito, and Justin Verlander over the past 10 years has taught us the incredible value of discretion, privacy, and professionalism.  These guys live in an intense fish bowl where their every moves and thoughts are evaluated and scrutinized.  For CJ, Barry, and JV, their wives were also famous to some degree as well, making the media circus even more involved.  The very last thing these guys need is for the Texas Baseball Ranch or the Ranch Consortium to make their lives more complex or drama filled.


People too often forget these men are feeling and thinking human beings too.  For the most part, they simply want what we all want—They want to live a life of meaning full of joy, health, peace, and love.  Most of them also obviously covet their privacy.


In truth, Justin and I have spent over a fourth of our conversation time together talking not about baseball or pitching, but about Tuscany, Italy and traveling destinations in Europe.  Scotty Kazmir and I often talked about bass fishing on Lake Conroe.  Barry Zito was very interested in Faith and was fascinated by the free solo climber Alex Honnald. For Trevor Bauer, it was about nanotechnology and the intricate strategy of paint gun warfare.


Therefore, a long time ago I decided we would not make our professional clients a part of our social media experience.  I was headed there anyway but Barry Zito really helped me define and refine that process.  For that, I will be forever thankful to Barry.


#2. Justin Verlander’s pitching coach is a long-time dear friend of the Ranch and of the Wolforth family. Brent Strom is simply the best in the business… Bar none… Period!  In our opinion, no organization in baseball is routinely better prepared than the Astros and no pitching coach we know of in all of professional baseball is better to sort through that complexity and preparation than Brent Strom.  Justin Verlander is in incredibly good hands with both his pitching coach and his organization. That is why I was not surprised to see that Justin just signed a two-year, $66 million extension with the Astros on Saturday.


#3. The success of Justin Verlander is almost exclusively because of Justin Verlander himself.  Likewise, the only person who should divvy out estimates regarding the helpfulness of anything for Justin Verlander is JV himself.  We are simply proud, happy, and feel very blessed that he trusts our opinion or seeks out our counsel to any degree whatsoever.  We honestly and truly have no idea and quite frankly no interest in knowing what our impact is or has been.  The Ranch Consortium is simply here to help in any way we can.   


Bottom line:

What we do with our professional athletes at the Ranch will remain predominately private from social media.  As Randy Sullivan likes to often opine, “What happens at the Ranch stays at the Ranch”.


Justin Verlander is a very driven, curious, and gifted athlete who is absolutely obsessed with being as good as he can be.  He is a pleasure to work with.  A true professional.


Kate Upton is not only a star in her own right, but a very charming and genuine person and has been a pleasure getting to know.


Brent Strom is, in our opinion, the ideal pitching coach for JV to work with because Strommy is both a master teacher and a humble servant.  I have known Brent for nearly 20 years, and I promise you that Brent’s only goal is to help each of the athlete’s in his charge to perform at their very best.  Still even today, whenever our family or staff catches a glimpse of Brent in the dugout on TV, we all chant, “There’s Strommy!”.  Our affection for him is deep indeed. 


In my opinion, it must also be said that Justin also has a tremendous agent in Mike Milchin.  Mike is the one that first made the connection between me and Justin Verlander. Mike’s total dedication to the development of his clients is amazing and admirable in and of itself.


There you have it, my relationship with Justin Verlander.  I have nothing more as of today to add to this story.  We believe he will have an exceptional year.  Go get ‘em JV and good luck Astros!


Ron Wolforth
CEO The Texas Baseball Ranch®          


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