PORTLAND – He could have been punching keys on a calculator, preparing tax returns and balancing other people’s budgets.

Instead, Geoff Iacuessa opted for a life of selling ads, packaging group ticket sales and, on occasion, grabbing hold of his share of the tarp and dragging it in the rain.

For Iacuessa, 31, life could not be better.

Iacuessa — pronounced I-a-KWESSA — began working for the Portland Sea Dogs as an intern in 2001. He was hired full time the next spring.

And now Iacuessa is the boss. In September, Iacuessa was named the general manager of the franchise, only the second in the team’s 16-year history.

Charlie Eshbach, 58, the original general manager, remains in charge, still serving as the club president.

“It gives me someone else to worry about the details,” quipped Eshbach.

Some of those details include the opening day of individual ticket sales for the 2011 season, which is Saturday, starting at 9 a.m. at Hadlock Field.

Some new promotions are planned for Saturday, but don’t look for wholesale changes of one of the most successful minor league baseball franchises in the country.

“The recipe and the ingredients will stay the same,” Iacuessa said. “No sense in messing around with that.

“I’ll be doing more of the administrative stuff, the hands-on, day-to-day, budgeting, obviously with Charlie’s help. Charlie will still be here every game. He will be (doing) more long-term, far-reaching planning.”

Eshbach said he has considered giving up the GM job for a couple of years. After talking it over with Chairman Bill Burke, son of owner Dan Burke, they decided this was the time.

They had another motive.

“We wanted to keep Geoff in the organization,” Eshbach said.

Iacuessa, a native of Greenfield, Mass., once thought he wanted to become an accountant. He applied to business colleges such as Bentley and Bryant. But that planning changed.

“The fall of my senior year (of high school), I heard about sports management, and I knew that’s what I want to do,” he said. “I knew I wasn’t good enough to play baseball beyond high school. But I always liked the game.

“Hearing about sports management — and finding out about the program at UMass. …“

Iacuessa graduated from the University of Massachusetts, which has one of the better-known sports management programs, and then interned with the Sea Dogs.

After his internship, he returned to Greenfield and worked as a sports writer until the Sea Dogs offered him a job the next March.

He began in group sales and also worked promotions. In 2006, he added the title of assistant general manager.

Iacuessa, who is married to Kristie with a son Hudson, who turns 3 on Monday, added other responsibilities. He joined the board of directors for the Maine Children’s Cancer Program and will serve as president this year.

Easygoing with a constant smile, Iacuessa was a natural candidate for the general manager’s job.

“We have a lot of qualified people in our organization,” Eshbach said. “We just felt that Geoff had kind of been on a track to doing this.

“He was interested in moving forward and he the natural ability and the experience to do it.”

THE TICKET sales begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at the box office, with Internet and phone sales beginning at noon.

Among the events planned are tours of the ballpark at 10:30 and 11:15 in the morning, appearances by Slugger the mascot and pitcher Ryne Lawson from 10 a.m. to noon and a chance to hit a home run for a free season ticket — each batter getting five swings.

HOT STOVE BANQUET tickets will also go on sale Saturday.

The banquet is Jan. 21 at the Sable Oaks Marriott and will feature Boston Red Sox outfielder Ryan Kalish and Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Mark Rogers, the former Mt. Ararat High standout. Tickets are $50 and benefit the Strikeout Cancer in Kids program.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

[email protected]