Cape entrepreneur to blend passions of business, baseball
By Tom Davis
CAPE GIRARDEAU MO – December 1
Aside from his family, Glenn Campbell would be hard-pressed to find things that he
loves more so than business and baseball. Now, the Cape Girardeau native has found the perfect
opportunity to combine his two passions and do so in his hometown, which makes this opportunity even
Campbell, 57, has joined the Cape Catfish organization as a minority stakeholder and will serve as the
President and Director for the four-year-old Prospect League franchise.
“It’s been fun watching this franchise grow from the beginning. Everybody associated with the Catfish, I
know,” Campbell said. “ As a guy who knows a little about startups it has been impressive to watch what
has transpired so far. I love baseball and this opportunity will allow me to see if I can use some of my
past experiences to help take the Catfish to the next level.”
Campbell, who is a 1983 graduate of Notre Dame Regional High School and a 1987 graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, will be responsible for various business-related and off-the-diamond aspects of the club.
“Getting a guy who knows the landscape, and people of this community, and has blazed his own trail, it
is just an amazing fit for us. The good lord is blessing us for sure,” said Catfish General Manager Mark
Campbell wasn’t alone as a young boy growing up in Southeast Missouri and loving the game of baseball.
His favorite player was the legendary St. Louis Cardinal outfielder Lou Brock, and he pursued his love
until the harsh reality of high school baseball plunked him like an errant pitch.
“I thought I was a decent baseball player up until my freshman year in high school,” Campbell said. “But
then you realize at 5 foot nothing and average talent that there are a lot of good kids once you get to
Campbell walked away from the diamond, but he never allowed his heart to follow.
As an adult, he founded the Lids Missouri Bulls youth baseball program, which has garnered collegiate
exposure for countless athletes from Southeast Missouri, and Campbell still makes repeated treks up to
St. Louis every summer to watch his beloved Cardinals.
His initial connection to the Catfish was as a fan, but eventually, that evolved into a play-by-play voice on
the radio after Hogan heard Campbell calling a Notre Dame high school baseball game.
“Mark came to me and said he and his wife (Becky Hogan) loved how I sounded,” Campbell said, “so he
asked me if I would do some Catfish games.”
When he isn’t spending his summer days “flinkin” (a combination of floating and drinking) at Kentucky
Lake, Campbell will call a handful of Catfish games each summer.
Work is play
Campbell is an admitted “sports nut,” who has followed athletics since he can remember.
When he graduated from SEMO, he was one of the lucky individuals who was able to fuse his passion for
business with his love of sports.
He began his career working in management with Foot Locker, which took him to Indianapolis, where he
met his wife, Lee Ann, a native Hoosier, and the couple and their children lived for almost 20 years.
He and a friend, Scott Molander, started Hat World Inc. in 1995, their first store just happened to be in
another Prospect League town, Lafayette, IN. They opened stores in malls throughout the Midwest with
the initial goal in mind to expand to five locations, Campbell slightly undershot his ability.
Hat World was a major success, and in 2001, Campbell and his partners purchased the bigger brand, Lids
Inc. out of bankruptcy.
“That is when life changed,” Campbell said.
Hat World Inc. had 150 stores and “was doing $40 million in sales, Lids was 4x our size.”
“We were making money,” Campbell explained, “but when Lids filed (bankruptcy), and we purchased
them, it changed our world because they were nationwide, and we were more just Midwest. People
always wondered why we made it and they didn’t and I could write a book on that but mainly, they
thought they could cookie cut this concept and we believed you had to customize each store to the city
you opened up in. We ended up being right and the rest is history.”
Suddenly, Campbell was running an international operation as Lids opened up 300 more locations over
the next 3 years and expanded into Canada and became an international brand with 600+ stores, which
generated over $200 million in revenue.
Campbell “cashed out” in 2004 when the firm Genesco Inc. out of Nashville, purchased Lids from he and
his partners, which allowed him the opportunity to “retire at 40,” but he loved the business so much,
that he elected to stay on and run it at the behest of the new owners.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
With some financial stability and life options galore, Glenn, Lee Ann and family could have lived
anywhere but decided to move back to Cape Girardeau. “Maryssa and Kyle were starting high school
and Eli and Paige were starting grade school and my wife knew I wanted to get back here so we loaded
up and moved home, ” Campbell said.
“We loved the Indianapolis area,” Glenn said. “My wife grew up in Columbus, IN and went to college at
Purdue University so it wasn’t easy convincing her to move. When I moved away in 1987, I was hoping
to eventually make it back here.”
The Campbells came back to Cape Girardeau in 2007 and have never left.
A private equity firm purchased Lids just prior to the onslaught of COVID in 2020, and Campbell suddenly
found his job as appealing as trying to hit a slider. So, he left the licensed sports industry after 25+ years
and he began to call baseball games. When he wasn’t verbally painting the magnificence of a setting sun
over the left field scoreboard at Capaha Field, he was delivering bits of business advice to President Jim
Limbaugh, GM Mark Hogan and Catfish Assistant General Manager Cindy Gannon.
“I started watching what they were doing,” Campbell said. “I talked to Mark, Cindy and Jimmy Limbaugh
about the financials of it, and why they did this or didn’t do that. We talked about the apparel and
headwear and I knew I could help them with that part.”
“Mark, Cindy and Jim have done an incredible job building this from the ground up with a small team
and some interns, Campbell said. “From finding players, coaches and running game day operations and
all things on the field, Mark and Cindy have forgotten more than most people will ever know with all
their years in college athletics.”
“I wanted to come here and see if I could help them out in other areas.”
On a recent dreary November afternoon, Campbell was perched behind a computer at the Catfish office
already diving into his new role.
Campbell’s son, Eli, 21, and a senior at SEMO, who will join his father in working this summer for the
team as an intern, was scurrying about the office completing organizational tasks.
The elder Campbell has zero plans of being a “hands-off” owner from a business perspective.
“It’s not easy to make money,” Campbell said of running a Prospect League franchise. “And making
money isn’t why the Patels got into this, and it isn’t why I got into this. The Patels did this for the city
and the investment they made in Capaha Field was a catalyst for many of the changes that have been
made there the last few years. Between the Catfish, the university and the city, we all want Capaha Field to be the crown jewel of Cape Girardeau.”
“I am part of the ownership group and I want to see if we can close that (financial) gap. I think we can.
We have to do some things differently and try some new things but I think we can.”
Despite his very public and very successful career, Campbell admits that he has “failed” at many things in
his career, so fear of failure is going to be as prevalent within the Catfish business operations as loafing
down to first base is by a player.
“People that google me and read my background,” Campbell said, “say, ‘Man, what a successful guy.
What he’s done is really cool. But trust me, I have failed way more times than I’ve succeeded. Everyone
focuses on the wins but I’ve learned as much about life and business in the losses.”
“Failure doesn’t scare me and it won’t stop us from trying a bunch of new things and seeing what works.
That’s the fun part about being an entrepreneur.”
With that in mind and two months of blank dates marked off on a pair of whiteboards in his spartan
office waiting for the 2023 Prospect League schedule to be finalized, Campbell is already brainstorming
and bouncing ideas off those around him.
He is envisioning reaching out to past season ticket holders and inviting them back with some early
special pricing, and setting up a “Catfish Cantina,” among other ideas we discussed. He has a lot of
thoughts on Capaha field and upgrading the restroom facilities and adding a permanent concession
stand on the plaza.
“We’re going to keep swinging,” Campbell said, “until we connect. I can tell you one thing, people are
going to enjoy (coming to the games), and they are going to see some new things.”