The most striking thing about Aaron Moore, upon first meeting him, is how much he sounds like a younger version of NASCAR star Tony Stewart, an audible resemblance that reaches eerily visible proportions when he dons wraparound shades and a baseball cap under the bright afternoon sun at a Rockford Thunder practice.
This then leads to the second realization -- that Moore is more than a decade younger than his racing doppelganger.
At 25, the man who runs the Thunder franchise must be among the only general managers in professional sports who didn't take a breath in this world before the Reagan administration, something that was even more likely to be true at 21, when he landed his first GM job in the National Pro Fastpitch league.
Despite having only recently qualified to rent cars without restrictions in many states, Moore is an NPF lifer. He didn't know much about the sport when he took his first job in 2004. But he quickly grew to love the ways it resembled baseball and the ways it differed from the sport in which he previously worked as an undergrad assistant sports information director in college. Working with a staff of interns during the season and mostly on his own for owner Bob Lowe in the offseason, Moore is in charge of everything from drafting and trading players to organizing sponsorship deals, housing arrangements for players and handling Internet broadcast duties for road games.
It's difficult to imagine Brian Cashman sorting through the debris at Legends Field when the Yankees break spring training, but that's what Moore is doing in the small press shed behind home plate this day, the team having finished its home schedule for the year.
A Colorado native who still dreams of working in the front office for the Broncos or Nuggets (he passed on an opportunity to take a role as an unpaid intern for the Nuggets recently), Moore is comfortable and committed to building both the Thunder, which relocated from Texas before the season, and the league into something special.
"It's been incredible," Moore said. "We came into the year hoping to average between 500 and 600 [fans], which to me, would have been a great number -- you know, first year, smaller venue, smaller market. We came out and beat that by 250; we were close to 750 this year. Our first night, we had 2,600 people. If you looked around, it was 10 deep along the outfield, along the sidelines. You couldn't even stand and find a spot.
"I would love to see the league and see these women be able to do this as their career. And I would love to be a part of making that happen."