This memoir describes the childhood, teenage, young adult and family events that shaped my decision to table a successful business career to become the focal point of a grass-roots effort to return professional baseball to New Jersey. Five years in the making (1990-1994), the roller coaster ride of a project involved the search for well-heeled and interested investors, purchasing an existing Minor League franchise, and lastly - but certainly not in the least - finding the wherewithal to develop and fund a professional stadium in rural Sussex County. From my dad signing a pro contract to play baseball on the eve of America entering World War II to an "illuminating" family trip to a Pennsylvania Minor League ballgame, this is a tell-all story wilder than a Ryne Duren fastball.
Robert Hilliard's The Circus Is In Town: A Baseball Odyssey is a captivating, detailed account of his journey from a young boy who loves sports to realizing his dream of owning a professional baseball team. Along the way, there are many twists and turns that keep you turning the pages.
Rob shares his dreams but also his innovative thinking that makes them a reality. There is a motivation aspect of the book that shows that it is not only ok to dream but it is also ok to take a chance and with hard work and perseverance you can accomplish great things even if the end result is not exactly what your original vision was.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in owning a professional franchise or anyone who would like to build a facility of any kind. Rob's trailblazing efforts reveal many hurdles that occur during the process. His account shows how he overcame all of the challenges that faced him and that in the end the people that you take your journey with are more important than the destination.
How many people can honestly say they pursued their true passion? More importantly, how many people can say they drove and prepared themselves to accomplish their lifelong goal? In a detailed account of his passion for sport and his successful effort to return minor league baseball to New Jersey, [Rob] Hilliard provides a compelling account of his love for baseball and family, and the perils of diving into the sports business waters dominated by sharks whose only passion is making the fast buck. While I enjoy an occasional baseball game, I am not fanatical about the sport. For those who are, they will relish the play-by-play of the A League and amateur league teams that became the heartbeat of Hilliard's family. Having dealt with Wall Street's lawyers and accountants, I was fascinated by how the denizens of the Big Apple's financial district played hardball with a man who gave it his all to bring minor league baseball back to New Jersey. As Hilliard says, this is a cautionary tale. He says this, not as someone who dreamed big but did not do his homework, but as a marketing professional who did his due diligence and who tended to all the business details one would think necessary to make his dream a success. From the beginning, his family stood behind him and nurtured him in a game that did not turn out as hoped. And it is family that holds the reader's interest. As much as anything, Hilliard was buoyed by his family from the beginning. More important, they stood by him at the end, when he needed them most. And with that support, he can look forward to many more happy seasons outside the sports arena.
The St. Louis Cardinals Baseball Hall of Fame and the University of Georgia's Henry W. Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication, along with UGA's Special Collections Library, hosted Rob Hilliard, former President of the New York-Penn League's New Jersey Cardinals, founder of Skylands Park Management, and author of The Circus Is In Town - A Baseball Odyssey (Outskirts Press, Parker, CO, 2016).
The St. Louis and Athens, GA, venues are under consideration for becoming home to a range of memorabilia from Mr. Hilliard's years in the National Pastime during the decade of the 1990s..