Jeremiah Dew, or JDew as Greenville Drive and Clemson fans know him, has never seen the lights on Fluor Field from any other vantage point than the infield.
And he hates picking up the debris aftermath from the Friday night fireworks shows.
“Firework clean-up is the worst,” he says. “I won’t miss that.”
After 10 years on the mic for the Drive’s home games, which made him one of Greenville’s most recognized faces, and cleaning up after all of the on-field shenanigans, JDew officially resigned at the end of the 2016 season to spend more time with his growing family.
“I’ve been embarrassing people for 10 years,” he says.
But he does miss the people, the 300,000-plus fans he entertained for half of the year for the last decade, many of whom he knew on a first-name basis.
“I realized how much that lifestyle had become a part of my existence,” Dew says.
Dew will still emcee court-side for Clemson basketball games, beginning Nov. 11, and other local events, along with performing his popular Black History Month one-man show January through March.
In 2006, when Dew interned for the Drive during his senior year of college working the fan cam for home games, he had seen maybe five baseball games in his life.
“I never liked baseball,” he says.
The internship led to his full-time position in 2007 as emcee and eventually director of game entertainment while still manning the mic for every home game.
“The Drive is my team,” Dew says, admitting he doesn’t know anything about major or minor league ball clubs.
And it was fun playing for a living and becoming a small-town celebrity, he says.
But then his focus changed in January of 2011 when he took inventory of his priorities and definition of success. He knew the schedule he was keeping with the Drive and various other business ventures wasn’t working.
“I was overwhelmed,” he says. “I tried to quit, and they said ‘We’ll see you tomorrow night on the mic.’”
Dew eventually resigned his director’s position, but didn’t give up his game-night mic duties. He knew, though, that as his personal life changed, his job would need to.
“We live in a world that champions business or champions love,” he says. “Most successful people I know have a happy family and successful business. Why is it either/or?”
In July 2013, he married Sydney Manor, a former Mauldin High School art teacher, and on April 6, 2014, the couple welcomed their first child, a girl born exactly 20 years to the day after Dew’s father, Johnny Lee Dew, passed. They named her Johnnie Leigh in his honor. Their son Judah Robert was born April 22 of this year.
“I don’t care what you think about me now that I have kids.” Dew says. “I care about what they think.”
Now Dew’s focus is not on having fun, because he already did that, and not on making money, even though with his charisma and entrepreneurial spirit he can do that in spades, but on leaving a legacy for his children.
“I had a lot of fun in my 20s, “ he says. “But if my family is not winning, I am not winning.”
His choices now are based solely on his desire to create a great family legacy, he says.
“The reason I left my house this morning is to create a better life for my family,” Dew says. “If my family is suffering, I lose.”
He’s spent the last 10 years learning good business practices from several mentors.
“So many people who do well have had solid mentorship,” Dew says. “And they pick up the phone and call people. They don’t email or text. They actually talk to each other.”
And he learned that social media “likes” don’t equal success.
“I’ve spent my entire adult life on social media,” Dew says. “The business community got caught up in the likes and stuff, but a lot don’t understand business.”
Dew’s various business start-ups also have helped him learn true business skills through some successes and failures.
One of his more recent ventures is an online travel club he markets, which enables his family to travel regularly — in five months his son has already traveled to New York City, Puerto Rico and Jamaica.
“This is part of the life I wanted to create for my family,” Dew says.
He also recently joined Locally Epic, a start-up that officially launches in the Upstate during Fall for Greenville, as vice president of business development. Locally Epic provides real-time, location-based marketing technology for businesses. Dew, who doesn’t even maintain a resume, was hired by CEO Chase Michaels because of his people skills and hyper-local focus.
Dew says this new position allows him to maintain the kind of flexible schedule his family needs while also keeping him locked into the community.
He works out of his West End home and says he looks forward to this new stage of life seeing the lights on Fluor Field from there.
“The ball park is woven into the fabric of our community,” Dew says. “People celebrate every occasion there. I might buy myself a ticket.”