Results tagged ‘ Louisville ’

Meet the Job Seekers, Promo Seminar Edition

The annual Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar is a multi-faceted industry extravaganza, and one of its easiest-to-overlook components is the Job Fair. While a fraction of the size of its Winter Meetings counterpart, the Seminar Job Fair represents a great chance to, as its web site says, “get a head start on your competition.”

I would agree. While the number of job postings at the Seminar are fairly minimal, job seekers put themselves in a great position via the opportunity to learn from and network with the industry. A lot of Winter Meetings job seekers enter the experience with myopic viewpoints, not quite understanding the level of competition or how the industry actually functions on a day-to-day basis, but those who have attended the Seminar gain a far more realistic and nuanced view of what they need to do to succeed. And while it is certainly intimidating to be a relative unknown within the tight-knit collegiality of the industry, there are ample opportunities to make connections, start conversations, bond over drinks, etc.

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While attending the Seminar, I let it be known that I would be happy to highlight Job Seekers in an upcoming blog post so that my readers (which certainly include potential employers) could get a sense of who they are, what they’re looking for, and what motivated them to come to Louisville. Three Job Seekers responded to this open call; they are profiled below.

Kyle West

Kyle, a resident of Morgantown, WV is currently spending his days working in sales and his evenings calling Division II basketball games. He has three years of NCAA Division I communications experience, but, as you’ll see below, baseball is his passion. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat experience do you have in the world of baseball so far, and what sort of job are you looking for?

For two seasons, I doubled as the play-by-play broadcaster for the University of Kansas baseball team in the spring and the Willmar Stingers of the Northwoods League in the summer, calling more than 120 games each year. During this time, I also served as a communications assistant in the Kansas Athletics Department and acted as the director of media relations for the Willmar Stingers, writing a game recap each night, producing game notes for each series and working in the ticket office during homestands. I currently have a full-time sales job with a private corporation, but I want to return to baseball and am hoping to find a minor league play-by-play job for next season.

What prompted you to attend the Promo Seminar, and was it a worthwhile experience?

I attended the Promo Seminar to network as much as possible, realizing that a lot of teams would not have a definitive grasp yet on their broadcaster situation for next year. I set some lofty expectations going into the Promo Seminar and somehow it exceeded them. I met a lot of great people and learned an incredible amount during the group therapy and power sessions. It was certainly worth the trip.

Interested in having Kyle work for your organization? Contact him at 785-472-7013, email west.kyle.w@gmail.com

Michael Vinson

Michael, 24, was born in “the rubber capital of the world” (aka Akron, OH) but has lived in Tennessee for almost his entire life. He attended the Memphis College of Art and, as a graphic design professional, would like to let it be known that his favorite fonts are Nevis and Franchise. 

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What experience do you have in the world of baseball so far, and what sort of job are you looking for?

This past year was my first in baseball, interning as a graphic design assistant with the Tennessee Smokies. There I handled all of their graphics needs when it came to video board, print, social media, billboards, stadium signage, etc. You name it I made it. I was also the in-game audio operator for all of our their games, as well as co-director of the team’s game day productions when needed.

I am definitely looking to stay on the production and design side of things in baseball. As a designer, I enjoy being at the heart of the memory-making aspect of baseball, trying to add to the sport’s rich history with everything I make. Each design could be somebody’s first ticket, first poster, first everything, so I want to make sure they are all worth remembering.

What prompted you to attend the Promo Seminar, and was it a worthwhile experience?

I had such a blast being with the Smokies that a gathering of like-minded people sharing ideas on the sport sounded like the right place to further my experience and start to establish a network in minor league baseball. With only a year under my belt, I wanted to dive into the deep end of the pool and immerse myself in all of the knowledge I could obtain from the 3-day event. From all the ideas that I gathered to all the great people I was able to connect with, the seminar well exceeded my expectations.

The main highlight for me was every person I got to meet one-on-one and spend a few minutes with, learning so much from each one. My lowlight would have to be almost knocking over Pat O’Conner in passing at Louisville Slugger Field. Nice first impression, huh?

For more on Michael, and to get in touch with him, check out his website www.michaelvinson.net

Andrew Berger 

Andrew, a classic hip-hop aficionado, attended the University of Arizona and currently resides in Austin. The Irvington, NY native reports that “Baseball is my lifelong passions, and to make a career for myself in this great game is my absolute goal!”

What experience do you have in the world of baseball so far, and what sort of job are you looking for?

For the past two seasons I have worked for the Round Rock Express.  This past season I worked in the “Control Room” working in the Gameday Presentation.  I am hoping to obtain a position working in Community and/ or Public Relations.  However, as we all know, working in MiLB requires an individual to remain flexible and open to all opportunities!

What prompted you to attend the Promo Seminar, and was it a worthwhile experience?

I decided to drive 17 hours from Austin to Louisville to get better and learn more about the business of baseball.  It was a phenomenal education with great minds and personalities coming together to share ideas, and the best part as a “Job Seeker” was that I had an opportunity to interact and introduce myself to members of MiLB across the board.  This Promo Seminar is a must-go for anybody who works in MiLB and anyone who wants to gain valuable and important insights from some of the top baseball minds!

And there you have it, just a small sample of the sort of folks who are vying for a career in baseball in 2014 and beyond. Get in touch if you’d like to share your own job seeking experiences (at the Promo Seminar or otherwise).

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

On the Road: Day Three of the Promotional Seminar in Louisville

Welcome to another installment of this Louisville tour diary, in which I detail the time that was had (by me) during last week’s Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar. This post shall chronicle Day Three, but before proceeding please know that a recap of Day One can be found HERE and a recap of Day Two can be found HERE.

And with that bit of introductory housekeeping out of the way, we can now proceed with an unburdened spirit.

Thursday, September 26

Day Three started out strong, as Golden Bobbleheads were the first order of business. These annual awards honor the best promotions to take place in the Minor Leagues during the season, and are voted on by Seminar attendees (the finalists are chosen on a monthly basis by Minor League Baseball HQ in St. Pete). Before voting, each nominated team gives a brief presentation on their promotion, with teams not attending sending video submissions instead (these teams rarely, if ever, win). The end result is a fun and fast-paced couple of hours, as teams politic, provoke and plead from the podium.

Five Golden Bobbleheads are eventually awarded, in the categories of Best Non-Game Day Event, Best Theme Night, Best Charity Promotion or Event, and Best In-Game. I’ll weigh on the winners at a later date in the near future, but as for the presentations themselves this is the only photo that I possess:

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That’s Lake Elsinore Storm assistant general manager Raj Narayanan standing next to a gorilla, who soon took part in a light saber battle that almost ripped down the stage curtains. Such anarchy is par for the course when it comes to the Storm, who regularly engage in such nonsense at the Promo Seminar (for better or for worse I’ll never forget their 2009 presentation in which they touted their Subtle Butt flatulence neutralizer giveaway).

Meanwhile, my 10 nominations for 2013′s “Promo of the Year” MiLBY Award are just about to be unveiled. Check them out on MiLB.com and vote for your favorite! The MiLBY’s are the fan equivalent of the Golden Bobblehead, the hoi polloi-embracing yin to their industry insider yang. These two awards are not in competition with one another, but I’ve got to say it’s been a bit disheartening to find that teams generally care a lot more about winning a Golden Bobblehead. Again and again teams brag to me about winning a Golden Bobblehead (often thinking that I have something to do with their selection), but rarely do I hear such excitement when it comes to the MiLBYs.

This is disheartening, yes, but somehow I carry on.

There was a full slate of presentations after the Golden Bobblehead portion of the morning (one of which included a hilarious verbal slip-up), but for the most part I wasn’t paying much attention. In fact, for much of it I wasn’t even in the room. This is because I was to be the Seminar’s final ballroom presenter, so I spent some time in the hotel room putting the finishing touches on this:

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I suppose the title is self-explanatory, as this 20-minute speech simply detailed my 2013 travels in chronological order. I tried to keep it breezy and funny yet informative, and I think I succeeded. Going into it I was incredibly nervous and edgy and couldn’t really sit still, but as soon as I got on the stage I was completely relaxed and started making jokes like they were going out of style (and my kind of jokes really are going out of style).

(Also: I am available to give this speech, or variations thereof, in other venues. All that I ask is for travel and lodging expenses to be covered and a small “whisky stipend” provided.)

Unfortunately this smartphone photo seems to be the only documentation of my speech that exists. Please know that it was delivered into a sea of smiling faces, each more impressed than the last at my boundless charm, buoyant humor, and verbal dexterity. If anyone else has any more photos then please send them to me! The flames of narcissism need to be fanned, as I am a lonely man and the offseason is long and cold.

photoI celebrated my victorious speech like I celebrate everything else: by eating a meal in public while standing, completely alone. In the afternoon there were a couple more “Group Therapy” sessions, and one of the ones I attended was titled “Beyond the Press Release” (moderated by Minor League Baseball corporate communications manager Mary Marandi). I spoke a little bit during the session about the unpredictable crapshoot that is national media attention, but here are two things in my notes that I didn’t get around to mentioning.

– For the love of God, it is the year 2013 and therefore ALL press releases should be sent using BCC (believe it or not, there are still some teams who display their entire mailing lists in the “to” column of every single press release they send).

– Maintain Facebook and Twitter feeds separately. There are still several teams whose Facebook posts automatically appear on Twitter in truncated form (usually ending in the middle of a sentence, followed by an ellipse), which gives Twitter followers the impression that they are a total afterthought. Twitter is far too important a means of communication to be used in such a slapdash manner.

Any thoughts on any of this? Let me know.

Up until this juncture I have been extremely heavy on the written word, leading eyes to glaze over, minds to numb and joints to atrophy. As a remedy to these myriad afflictions I shall close the post with a barrage of photos from Thursday evening’s ballpark outing to Louisville Slugger Field, home of the Bats (this is easily the best stadium naming rights deal in Minor League Baseball, as regards the company’s connection to both city and sport). After shuffling off of the hotel shuttle almost everyone headed toward the concourse booze merchants, but not I. My allegiance is not to the booze (well, at least some of the time), my allegiance is to you. Therefore, I did a full lap around the stadium before entering.

030Architecturally speaking and otherwise, Louisville Slugger Stadium is an absolute gem. It fits beautifully into its downtown surroundings, incorporating a defunct train depot into the design and featuring gorgeous views of the Ohio River and the bridges spanning it.

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The statue out front commemorates Louisville native Pee Wee Reese in high-flying form.

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This pathway (located down the third base side of the facility) leads to an outfield entrance.

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032There is a statue on this side as well, honoring Hall of Fame running back (and Louisville native, natch) Paul Hornung.

033The long and winding road continued from there, ultimately bringing me back to where I started and then into the stadium itself.

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037Like moths to a flame, industry was gathered ’round the booze (yes, I have a tough time maintaining a gluten-free diet in a ballpark environment, but I think it would be even tougher to work in baseball as a recovering alcoholic).

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Tours were being offered at this stage, so I joined on with a group whose departure was imminent. The view from the suites:

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This picture, hanging in a corridor located outside of the press box, gives a sense of what an absolute behemoth Cardinal Stadium was (the team played here from 1982-99, largely as a member of the now-defunct American Association).

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Old American Association championship banners decorate this spacious entranceway area, which used to be the aforementioned train depot.

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We then ambled down to the Bats’ clubhouse, home of the forsaken Aerobie.

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This was one of the few clubhouses that I’ve seen that feature a pool table.

050Beyond that, I simply enjoyed documenting some of the more absurd pieces of 2013 season detritus. I wonder what the fine is for allowing the fine box to be photographed by a middling Minor League blogger?

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Not the best place for a fitted hat sticker, guys.

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No offense, USA Baseball.

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And while Muhammad Ali is one of Louisville’s most famous native sons, let it be known that one of his most celebrated adversaries also logged time here.

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Back upstairs, there was a whole lotta eatin’ going on. Although I failed to document it, the centerpiece of my dinner was a “Kentucky filet mignon” aka fried bologna.

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Dinner was followed by the presentation of the Golden Bobbleheads, but, as mentioned previously, I’ll save my thoughts on them for another time. After the awards “ceremony,” whilst in the midst of the usual industry event hobnobbing, I was approached by members of the Bats’ staff. Would I be interested in dressing as a racing food product? How could I say no?

Back down into the abyss we descended:

055I eschewed the Taco Bell sauce packets in favor of this guy.

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056No documentation exists of our concourse forays, but it was an interesting experience. Usually when I’m in costumes such as the above, the response is one of constant attention. “Hey, can I get a picture?” “High five!” “I know you can hear me!” etc. But when dressing up as a racing food product amid an all-industry crowd, THE INDUSTRY DOES NOT CARE. I was met with contemptuous glares by some, but most were completely indifferent and couldn’t even be bothered to high five. Okay, cool, that’s fine, save your energy for the piano bar. I understand that at this point in the calendar year a certain ennui has set in. It sure has for me!

But yet, I keep writing. There will be more from Louisville, because there is always more until there is nevermore. But, for now, I’m gonna quit Raven.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

On the Road: Day Two of the Promotional Seminar in Louisville

Wednesday, September 25

The previous post in this ongoing saga detailed Day One of the 2013 Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar, held in Louisville’s Galt House Hotel. And when there’s a Day One it’s a near certainty that Day Two will follow. In my case that’s just what happened, and therefore Day Two is what this post shall detail.

But no matter what day it is, you be sure that there’s a lot going on at the Seminar.

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The morning portion of the Seminar was devoted to “Around the Horn,” in which the microphone is passed around the room so that attendees may detail their most successful endeavor of the 2013 season. I wrote all about this on MiLB.com, which, believe it or not, is the official web site of Minor League Baseball. But I took note of far more than that which was included in the article, some of which I will now share:

– South Atlantic League president Eric Krupa plugged his website Club Philanthropy, which details charitable efforts taking place across the world of Minor League Baseball. (Lots of great ideas are contained therein, although it hasn’t been updated since April.)

– The Gastonia Grizzlies, a collegiate wood bat team, staged a “Dig to China Night” promotion in which plane tickets to China were buried in the infield dirt. Whomever located the tickets in a post-game dig would win them, but here’s the catch — the tickets were one-way only, and nothing else was included as part of the package.

– Myrtle Beach Pelicans GM Andy Milovich said that “Salute to Smells” was his team’s best promotion of the year. I wrote about it HERE.

– Phil Wrye, assistant GM of the Bowie Baysox, extolled the virtues of his team’s “Glow in the Park Night.” 2500 fans received glow sticks, greatly enhancing the ballpark atmosphere (especially prior to that evening’s fireworks display).

– The Tri-City ValleyCats attempted to set the Guinness World Record in the category of “Most People Wearing False Mustaches.” This endeavor was inspired by manager Ed Romero, who has a real mustache. (In other news, I am not a fan of the Guinness World Records governing body. My thoughts on that, and much more, can be heard in the latest GameOps podcast. I was speaking live and direct from Louisville’s Galt House Hotel.)

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– Emcee Todd “Parney” Parnell remarked at one point that during the early stages of the offseason it would behoove teams to look into the upcoming summer movie release schedule. Based on this info, you can plan timely theme nights well in advance. Another solid Parney tidbit was this: “I tell everyone on our staff to read the [local] paper every day. Some of our most impactful promotions have been done at a moment’s notice.”

– The Lowell Spinners talked about their military trading card set giveaway, which honors local servicemen and women both past and present. This is an idea that other teams will almost certainly steal for their own promotional schedules, and later in the week I snagged my own pack of these cards. Check ‘em out (and excuse the glare):

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But, of course, not everyone attending the Promo Seminar works for a Minor League Baseball team. This “Around the Horn” session also gives Job Seekers a chance to introduce themselves and Trade Show exhibitors a chance to promote their product. And when the mic was passed to me, I took the opportunity to lobby for increased gluten-free options at Minor League ballparks in 2014 and beyond. There’s no interest like self-interest ‘cuz self-interest don’t stop!

Wednesday afternoon was largely taken up by “Power Sessions,” in which industry leaders take part in a moderated panel discussion. First up was an intermittently illuminating “What’s Next” roundtable about the future of the industry, which included Minor League exec-turned Astros president Reid Ryan on the panel. I found Reid’s perspective to be an interesting one, in that he is attempting to incorporate some Minor League-style entertainment into the Astros’ big league show. For example — this season, the Astros asked fans to tweet suggestions for the walk-up songs of visiting players.

Michael Hand, the chief marketing officer of Project Brand, spoke on Wednesday afternoon as well. This was the first chance for many in the industry to meet Mr. Hand, who is tasked with obtaining national sponsorship deals for Minor League Baseball as the industry attempts to establish itself as a uniformly formidable sporting entity (which it is!) Hand has an aggressive, take-no-prisoners approach to his job and I got the sense that his intensity and enthusiasm impressed many in the audience.

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The Seminar portion of the day complete, attendees adjourned to the Trade Show cocktail party and silent auction. I made a brief appearance at this shindig, but, like the day before, soon left the hotel in order to spend the evening with an actual Louisville resident. Wednesday’s tour guide was Dan Simon of Studio Simon fame (he designed this year’s Promo Seminar logo, in fact), and during a drive around the city we saw many sights and some of them I actually managed to take pictures of.

Such as this — Jim Patterson Stadium, home of the University of Louisville baseball team.

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This was a very impressive looking facility, as were all of the University of Louisville facilities I saw during my time in the city. It kinda left me with the impression that academics is not exactly the top priority at this institution, but who knows? Maybe they’re excelling on all fronts?

One pocket of the city that’s definitely excelling on all fronts is St. James Court, located in “Old Louisville.” The houses on this tree-lined street were a sight to behold, bestowed as they were with turn-of-the-20th century Victorian architectural splendor, and I immediately began to fantasize about living in one of them.

I’m not sure what adjective anyone else would use, but I’m going to go ahead and call this fountain “iconic.”

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The Conrad-Caldwell house is on the corner, fully restored and open for tours. The internet informs me (and by extension, us) that this house is a “stunning example of Richardsonian-Romanesque architecture” and though I don’t know what that means I am nonetheless impressed.

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There was more to my evening in Louisville, but since it wasn’t documented photographically it may as well have not happened. If there was only a way in which one could paint a picture with their words!

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

On the Road: Day One of the Promotional Seminar in Louisville

While I may be stretching the definition of “On the Road” by labeling this an “On the Road” post, I was indeed out of the office and hence “On the Road” this past week, visiting the city of Louisville for the annual industry event that is the Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar. Perhaps you aware of this event, either through attending it yourself or through reading my coverage over the years (I attended from 2008-2011 before taking last year off because I was in a bad mood).

Regardless, the premise is simple:

001“One Idea is Worth the Price of Admission.”

Minor League Baseball teams all operate within their own markets and, hence, don’t compete with one another. Therefore, the industry is big on idea sharing and the Promotional Seminar represents an opportunity to do just this. I sense a redundancy attack coming, so rather than succumb I’m just going to quote from my recently published MiLB.com piece:

The Promotional Seminar is a well-structured event, with the agenda divided into three main components: Presentations (in which one speaker presents to all attendees), Power Sessions (moderated panel discussions in front of all attendees) and Group Therapy (categorically divided small group discussions running concurrently with one another).

I’d ask that you please read this aforementioned MiLB.com piece, but as for this blog post it’s going to be a bit more ramshackle and (inevitably) me-centric. Also, it’s going to be chronological and it will only focus on Day One of the seminar.

Tuesday, September 24

After sleeping my way through two flights (the Charlotte airport, I hardly knew ye), I arrived in Louisville a little after noon and proceeded to high tail it to (or more accurately, take a cab to) the downtown Galt House Hotel. This hotel, which can safely be categorized as a behemoth, features two buildings connected by a street-spanning pedestrian walkway. Here’s the view from down the block because, apparently, that’s the photo I could muster.

062At 3 o’clock I was scheduled to moderate a Group Therapy discussion, entitled “If You Book Them, Will They Come: What Touring Acts Drive Attendance and Why?” I tried my best to put together an outfit in which I looked business casual chic but instead doofusness resulted. It usually does.

Ben_Hill_Group_Therapy (2)Overall I thought this went well, although the conversation didn’t flow as fast and furiously as it had in the session that took place just prior to mine (“How to Promote a Promotion” moderated by Jen Borowski of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans). Later a few people told me that it had been a tad awkward that several touring performers were in the room, making it so that those working for front offices were hesitant to talk openly about their booking strategies (or lack thereof).

On an industry-wide level one can find many different viewpoints regarding touring performers (which include everyone from the Cowboy Monkey Rodeo show to Reggy the Purple Party Dude to Utility Man Ben to Fur Circus to Louisville’s own Zooperstars! posse). Some teams swear by ‘em, saying that whether fans explicitly come to see them or not they leave the ballpark with indelible memories that will certainly influence their willingness to spring for tickets again. Other teams say that touring perforomers don’t justify the cost, as promotional budgets are limited and its cheaper to develop and promote entertainment in-house.

I understand both views, and don’t think that they are necessarily mutually exclusive. In some alternate reality in which I controlled a promo budget, I’d prioritize in-house talent but nonetheless be adamant about booking 2-3 touring performers a year as its nearly impossible to rival the entertainment that can be provided  by road-hardened pros. (Best case scenario, of course, is that sponsorship can be found for the touring act in question so that it doesn’t have to come out of the promo budget at all.)

Digression complete, it was time to proceed past the Trade Show (which represents a chance for exhibitors to re-establish connections and gain some name recognition before the gargantuan free-for-all that is the Winter Meetings) and into the Grand Ballroom.

If there’s one image that, year to year, defines the Promo Seminar it would be this: a bunch of people in a hotel ballroom listening to a speech. I think I’m now starting to understand why my coverage of this event generates virtually no interest whatsoever outside of the industry. (Or in it, for that matter. Why am I writing this?)

002Highlights of this truncated Tuesday afternoon portion included Amy Venuto’s impassioned (my notes say “evangelical”) talk on “season seat holder membership programs” as well as Nashville Sounds GM Brad Tammen’s talk on getting the most out of dilapidated facilities. This latter presentation seemed cathartic more than anything else, as Tammen shared the many trials and travails he has experienced while operating in Greer Stadium (flooded front offices and collapsed entrance ways are a way of life).

A welcoming cocktail reception followed, and while I’m all for boozing it up with the industry I had to make a quick exit as earlier in the week I had made arranged to meet with longtime reader Stevo, a score-keeping savant and “semi-retired punk/metal atavist” who lives in Louisville. Before making our way to a local eatery, Stevo pointed out a few points of interest. Such as this:

005While the downtown Louisville Slugger Museum includes a working factory, Stevo pointed out that the majority of the company’s output is actually produced in this far less scenic environment. This makes sense because while the museum is a great place to visit (I was there on Friday), it seems unlikely that it alone could handle the demands that come as a result of being the world’s number one wooden bat provider.

Stop two was duPont Manual High School, established in 1892 as an all-male institution and now a co-ed magnet school serving grades 9-12. It is one of Louisville’s most iconic buildings and, more important for our baseball-centric purposes: Pee-Wee Reese went there!

006Some time shortly thereafter, an absolutely brobdingnagian collegiate football facility came into view.

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010Oh, and here’s a place that you might have heard of. A little place that goes by the name of, oh, I don’t know: Churchill Downs.

012Barbaro is buried right out front.

015And, who knows? Maybe one day I will be buried out front as well. In the meantime all I can do is just stand there like an idiot.

014More to come, because there is always more to come. That’s just how it works around these parts.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

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