Job Seeker Journals: Darius Thigpen’s Year in Review

I am currently recruiting PBEO Job Fair attendees to write about their Winter Meetings job-seeking experience. With that in mind, throughout the next week I’ll be running guest posts from last year’s crop of Job Seeker Journal writers. Today we hear from Darius Montez-Thigpen, who recaps an exhilarating and unpredictable year. 

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About this time a year ago I made a bold move, a bold move in a year that was defined by bold moves. I called the 2014 Orange Bowl for Ohio State student radio (one of the greatest football games I’ve ever seen live), I underwent surgery, I graduated from college, I took a part-time job in a town I had never heard of and then I decided to go to San Diego to find a job in baseball. It was a crazy year, but a great one.

That November I decided that I wanted to go to the Winter Meetings to find a job in baseball. I knew what I wanted to be — a play-by-play broadcaster — but didn’t know what the path would be. Then it dawned on me that the Winter Meetings would be a tremendous starting point to find a legit play-by-play job. I’d heard Colin Cowherd talk about how he got his first job in baseball after showing up to one of the meetings and marketing himself to executives in the minors. He found work, so why wouldn’t I?

I had already completed an internship under Columbus Clippers broadcasters Ryan Mitchell and Scott Leo, and was at the time working with IMG in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I felt like I had a good shot to get a job, or at the very least leave an impression on several people in the industry. I ended up applying for 15 jobs, which resulted in seven interviews. I felt pretty good about the situation.

I didn’t get a job. That wasn’t fun.

As disappointing as that was, things did work out. I ended up taking a job with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs for the baseball season. I worked under Matt Provence and Jon Schaeffer and had a great experience in The Valley. As it turned out, a chance conversation with Jon would change my life.

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Before working with the IronPigs, Jon was a broadcaster with the Lynchburg Hillcats. During the offseason he called basketball games for the then-Division II Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia (don’t worry, I hadn’t heard of that town either). Jon got a heads-up from one of the guys at Longwood that there was an opening for a position that is very similar to what most Minor League broadcasters do: a  Sports Information Director position with play-by-play duties for the now Division I Lancers of the Big South. The position would be full-time. Jon said I should apply. I did, thinking that it would be similar to the Winter Meetings. I could meet some influential people and, at least, become someone that they’d heard of.

I got the job.

It’s not that I wasn’t prepared for an offer or that I was even particularly nervous about going through the application process (the Winter Meetings got me ready for interviews in a rapid, speed-dating type atmosphere). It was just that it was simply too good to be true. Over the course of 17 months I went from a recent college graduate facing unemployment to a man getting to do exactly what he always wanted to do. I’d say I’m blessed beyond measure, but I think that still doesn’t do justice to just how amazing this all is.

The Winter Meetings prepared me for interviewing and it prepared me to go through a rigorous process of preparation and anticipation. Most importantly, getting rejected by seven organizations allowed me to focus on my weaknesses. I got great feedback from every organization, which helped take me to the next level. I also got to meet a ton of great people.

Seriously. The people in baseball are awesome. Ben Hill (in addition to apparently being a teacher back in the day) is a fantastic wordsmith with wordplay that packs a pun-ch (I had to).

I met Ben Gellman-Chomsky and Brandon Liebhaber at the Winter Meetings as we were each looking for jobs. They were 1000% more successful than myself. Ben landed with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats of the Eastern League. Brandon became THE guy (like, the No. 1 guy) with the Jackson Generals in the Southern League.

I also met Jesse Goldberg-Strassler in San Diego. He wasn’t looking for employment (he holds down a position with the Lansing Lugnuts), but it was awesome connecting with him as he knows Ryan Mitchell from back in the day. I’m an Ohio State alumnus and Philadelphia sports fan. He’s a DMV guy who’s all about the Maryland Terps (B1G) and Washington teams, so there is direct competition between our favorite teams. Plus, we’re both all about Aaron McGruder’s “Boondocks”. Jesse has a way with the art of written language. I own his “Baseball Thesaurus”, and without any prompting or bribing I recommend you buy it.

I can go on for a while about how great the people I’ve met in Minor League Baseball are, but Ben gave me about 1000 words as a cap, so I’ll be brief. You need to work at least one season in the minors to experience what is almost too great for words to describe.

Going to the Winter Meetings is perfect if you’re in need of a first job, looking to meet new people, learn what else is going on in baseball or even if you just want an excuse to reconnect with friends from across the country that you’ve made within the industry. There’s something for everyone.

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If you’re at this year’s Winter Meetings say hi to my man Antonio Venegas (he’s the guy to the far left in the above group picture).

Whether you are hired on the spot or if you go without an interview, you’re definitely making the right decision by going to Nashville. Good luck!

Thanks, Darius. 

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

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