Results tagged ‘ Nashville Winter Meetings ’
I have already thoroughly documented my own Winter Meetings experience, and played a role in documenting the experiences of quite a few others. But as our old friend Ron Popeil was so fond of saying: “But wait — there’s more!”
On both December 2 and December 3 the touring performance crew known as Fur Circus made goodwill appearances at the Nashville Ronald McDonald House and Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital (prior to setting up shop as Trade Show exhibitors). This was a win-win mix of altruism and self-promotion — Fur Circus, relative newcomers on the MiLB touring circuit, were able to spread some good cheer while also spreading the word about themselves.
Fur Circus put out a press release prior to their visit, and later wrapped it up with this:
But, of course, all of that happened in the long-ago year of 2012. Here in 2013, we have new things to occupy our time — like New Year’s-themed ticket packs! The Miracle have been doing this for a couple of years now, and I’m always surprised that it hasn’t inspired other teams to do something similar.
Speaking of ticket packs, you may remember that the Durham Bulls are offering the creatively conceived and executed “Wil He or Won’t He” package. Per the squadron:
The Durham Bulls have unveiled a new ticket package in response to the blockbuster trade which sent Minor League Player of the Year Wil Myers and other Kansas City Royals prospects to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for former Bulls pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis. The “Wil He, Won’t He?” Pack consists of three big Bulls games, including Opening Day on April 8th and July 4th, and an added incentive for fans should Myers skip Durham and make the Major League roster out of Spring Training. If he does not start the season with the Bulls, ticket package buyers will receive an additional game for free.
Well, now said package has been endorsed by Mr. Myers himself!
Finally, in the all-important category of “Minor League team page staff bios,” both the State College Spikes and Lake County Captains have modeled theirs after retro baseball card designs. An example of each:
Oh, and speaking of retro baseball cards — last year around this time I put together a series of “then and now” blog posts detailing those featured in the classic 1987 Topps set who are currently coaching in the Minor Leagues. Why don’t you give it another look? It was a lot of fun to put together and got a great response, but Lord knows it’s too much work for me to re-do each year. I’m only one man.
While it seemed that this serialized blogging saga had concluded, this turned out to emphatically NOT be the case. Clint Belau, the self-described “favorite” of the four job seekers, is no longer Birmingham-bound and in this post he explains why his 2013 plans now involve a certain PCL juggernaut.
Read Clint’s other entries HERE.
A Change of Plans
Remember me? It’s your favorite (ok, that seems a bit vain, but let’s just proceed as if it were true) PBEO Job Fair attendee Clint Belau! After a Christmas vacation back to Wisconsin — where I witnessed over two feet of snow falling and ate enough food to last me through spring — I’m back with an update.
When I last checked in, I hadn’t heard back from either of the teams that interviewed me in Nashville. That surprised me, considering I felt both interviews had gone extremely well. However, it turned out that my Nashville trip was all gravy on the proverbial mashed potatoes as I had already received an offer from the Birmingham Barons the day before I left for the Winter Meetings. Well, during my vacation, the gravy got whole lot thicker (I’m 93.8% sure that reference doesn’t make sense, but at the moment, I’ve managed to confuse myself, and don’t remember where I was going with the whole mashed potatoes thing).
Nearly two weeks after the Winter Meetings, I received an email from one team that had interviewed me and a phone call from the other…on the same day! The purpose of both was to say that they really liked me, and wanted to offer me a position! So it turns out I’m not crazy, and those interviews in Nashville actually did go as well as I had thought! Here I was, on what was going to be simply a celebratory trip home, mentally preparing for the drive to Alabama, and I now had two more job offers to ponder! After a couple drinks to settle the nerves and some weighing of pros/cons, I had a decision to make.
Was I suspicious that each of these teams had run through their list of first picks, been turned down, and were now perusing their list of backup candidates? Absolutely. If they liked me so much, how come I didn’t get a call back for two weeks? Surprisingly, I gathered up enough courage to pose that question when I spoke with both teams. In each case, the answer I received left me feeling quite sure that I was indeed atop both of their respective lists.
After considering my options (and a phone call to a world famous blogger who shall remain nameless), I have decided that the best fit for me would be in stadium operations with the Albuquerque Isotopes.
The Isotopes are the Triple-A affiliate of the Dodgers. Being that I’m currently living in Phoenix, proximity, as well as level of baseball, comfortability with the team’s representatives, and a personal reason or two, all played a part in my decision. (And for those of you who are wondering, no, the fact that their team name is an homage to The Simpsons was not one of those personal reasons.) So in a few weeks, it’s off to Albuquerque I go, to continue this journey toward a career in baseball. Feel free to follow my escapades on Twitter (@clintbelau), where I’ll be rambling about the most attractive features Albuquerque has to offer, as well as offering my 140 character opinion on the latest Taco Bell commercial, which angers me by insinuating that somehow, bringing a 10 pack of crunchy tacos to a party (and consequently spilling lettuce and cheese all over your friend’s apartment) is somehow cooler than bringing a cheese and cracker platter.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past couple of weeks documenting the Winter Meetings perspectives and experiences of others, but today I thought I’d close out the 2012 blogging campaign by documenting my own time in Nashville. Or, more specifically, the time I spent wandering the labyrinthian corridors, archways and staircases of the absurdly large (and, I must point out, impeccably maintained) Gaylord Opryland Hotel.
2012 marked a Winter Meetings return to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, which last hosted the event in 2007 and will, yet again, in 2015. 2007 was my first Winter Meetings, and my memories of that experience are tinged with angst (as most of my memories are, but to a greater degree). At that point I was still finding my way with this job, and was not asked to go in any official capacity. But I went anyway, paying for my transportation and crashing in the hotel room of a benevolent co-worker. I had no idea what I was doing — Minor League Baseball was kind enough to give me a badge that provided entry to the daily events (such as the Trade Show and Gala), but I had no official media credentials, very few contacts, and virtually no money. I didn’t even have a camera. The blog posts from that trip, written less than two months after the blog itself was founded, reflect the ramshackle nature of that journey. (One post is simply a document of a conversation I had with a guy at a nearby Waffle House.) In looking back at the coverage of that trip, I am struck by how much I don’t like my writing and its snarky and dismissive yet trying-too-hard tone. (I am sure that, in five years, I will be disgusted by what I am writing right now. It is the way of things.)
All of this is to say that when I arrived back in Nashville for the 2012 Meetings, once of my first realizations was just how much my situation had changed in the last five years. Day to day it’s easy to feel like I’ve made no progress whatsoever, but here I was back at the Opryland and this time I was there in a far more legitimate capacity. Throughout the next three+ days I had many things to do, people to see, and stories to write. People would know who I am and I, in turn, would know them. I felt strangely at peace, and to the extent that I did anything on Sunday night it was this: some casual Opryland wandering, in order to re-acquaint myself with its gargantuan layout. (I also got some sushi, which was comically overpriced but competently prepared.)
Monday, the first official day of the Winter Meetings, kicked off with the Bob Freitas Business Seminar. If you’re a fan of large crowds of people — mostly men, mostly white — in bland business casual attire then this is the event for you! (Feel free to use that as a pull quote when advertising next year’s seminar). The morning portion of the seminar is comprised of a series of lectures, and I attended those within the “Licensing and Merchandising” track (just because). Here’s a riveting photo:
Despite my snarky and dismissive tone thus far (I guess some things never change), I do find value in the Freitas Seminar and wrote about my experiences HERE in as freewheeling and irreverent (yet hopefully still informative) a style as I could muster at the time. Between lectures, attendees mill about in the hallways outside and as one would expect the scene is heavy on back-slapping and flesh-pressing — for many in the industry, the Winter Meetings is the only opportunity of the year to renew acquaintances with distant league peers and former co-workers. Much has been made of the myriad networking opportunities to be found at an event such as this, but it really is invaluable.
At 11 a.m. there was a break in the Bob Freitas Seminar action as attendees made their way over to the Brobdingnagian Presidential Ballroom for the “Opening Session.” Get ready for another riveting picture, because here it comes!
The Opening Session has followed the same format in each year that I’ve attended — Randy Wehofer (of Iowa Cubs fame and fortune), serving as emcee, announces the full slate of league executive of the year awards and this then transitions to the main event: Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner’s speech. This always serves as a Minor League “state of the union” of sorts, during which O’Conner touches upon the past year’s triumphs and trials before looking toward the future.
This year I was VERY intrigued by what O’Conner had to say, as he introduced an ambitious new industry-wide initiative entitled “Project Brand.”
I ended up writing a feature about Project Brand the following week, so please check that out if you’re desirous of more info. But, in a nutshell, this initiative is an attempt to market Minor League Baseball in a top-down, all-inclusive way. Essentially, it involves telling the story of Minor League Baseball in a manner that will be attractive to national sponsors and fans alike.
This resonated with me because, on a micro level, this is the story that I’ve been trying to tell through my work on MiLB.com and this blog. My content adheres to this emerging industry-wide vision and should complement it nicely. (To paraphrase a set of Coolio lyrics that have always been very important to me: There ain’t no interest like self-interest, because self interest don’t stop!)
After skipping the Awards Luncheon (for, among other reasons, my lack of anyone to sit with. I’m a lone wolf at these events, and somewhat envious of the the fact that many of the other people there roll deep with their team and league colleagues) I reconvened with all of the industry heads for the “roundtable” portion of the Freitas Seminar. There are 15 round tables and they all take place concurrently, with each presenter doing three half hour presentations.
Meanwhile, most of the media hordes were camped out in their private ballroom. Oversaturation!
But you can’t blame the media for showing up in droves. Who wouldn’t want to spend their time amidst such an idyllic environment? And I’ve got to give a quick tip of the hat to the Opryland here — the customer service within that place is impeccable. It’s easy to get lost, but employees (no matter what their specific job) always went out of there way to provide any assistance that they could. I imagine that Minor League Baseball employees, themselves in an industry so focused on customer service, were particularly cognizant of this as well.
Of course, a big part of the Winter Meetings experience is the nighttime socializing. On Monday I fell prey to a problem that has been exacerbated by my new(ish) gluten-free reality — I can’t drink beer (and seemingly EVERYONE is drinking beer) so instead I went with whisky. But, of course, one beer does not equal one whisky and I lended up paying the price for my cavalier attitude in this regard.
But what can you do? Tuesday morning was a bit rough, but I had my first round of Job Seeker Journals to post. (Doing that sort of thing is a bit more work than people may assume. Adding titles, tags, links, photos and doing some basic editing takes time!) Next on the agenda was that a stop at the mecca of baseball-themed consumer goods and services that is the Trade Show.
On display: one of the many new looks of the Reading Fightin’ Phils.
And speaking of new uniforms, here’s a peak at what the Eugene Emeralds will be sporting.
This sign, it was inaccurate!
And — hey! It’s my old friends at Lynn University. Each year, students in professor Ted Curtis’ sports management program set up a booth at the Trade Show. In addition to spreading the word about the learning experiences on offer within their idyllic Sunshine State environs, they listen to impromptu lectures from various individuals within the baseball biz whom Curtis had asked to stop by.
One such individual was me. Contrary to the picture, my audience was slightly larger than one.
Toward the end of my spiel, I thanked Professor Curtis for continually asking me to take part in this. His invite back in 2007 was one of the reasons I first decided to attend the Winter Meetings. My thinking at the time was “If someone I’ve never met before wants me to speak, then I’ve got to go!” It served as a validation of sorts, a reminder that what I was doing was slowly starting to build an audience. (Put the emphasis on “slowly” in that previous sentence.)
But anyway — I ended up doing a story for MiLB.com on Trade Show first-timer Ben “The Utility Man” Youngerman, who’s gotten several mentions on this blog in the past. What can I say? I like his scrappy spirit and willingness to do whatever it takes to become a touring ballpark performer. This is not an easy industry to break into.
All in all it was an enjoyable time at the Trade Show, even if I didn’t walk out of there $500 richer like Wisconsin Timber Rattlers graphic designer Ann Mollica.
Mollica, who disavowed the legacy of fellow Wisconsinite Joe McCarthy by dividing this bounty equally amongst her co-workers, had won a raffle sponsored by the Skillville Group (home of the Zooperstars!, Myron Noodleman and Breakin’ B-Boy McCoy amongst others). Skillville are definitely the cool kids of the Trade Show — their advertising was featured on the back of the Winter Meetings badges, and their jumbo-sized booth manned by a squadron of employees in bright orange shirts had a prominent location close to the Trade Show entrance. They are very good at what they do, and well-known for it. The New York Yankees of Minor League Baseball touring performers?
On Tuesday evening I interviewed Winter Meetings logo designer Dan Simon (of Studio Simon) on the top floor of the Opryland, the two of us sitting just outside of a party held by the Chicago Cubs for their Minor League affiliates (every Major League club stages such an event during the Winter Meetings). That interview ran on the blog earlier this week, as did one I conducted the following morning with Sean Kane of Painted Glove Collectibles. Another interview that took place on Wednesday was with Ryan Kiel, a 25-year-old former Minor League pitcher now trying to break into the game on the business side. I later wrote an MiLB.com feature on Kiel, who, as it turns out, was hired as the general manager of the Appy League Pulaski Mariners (the same team for whom he began his pitching career, in 2010). This is a very interesting career arc!
Early in the afternoon I went back to the Trade Show to tie up a couple of loose ends — including a visit to the Australian Airbrushed Tattoos booth in order to get a temporary tattoo of a Minor League team (this is something that, two days before, I had promised I would do). The guys manning the booth had dozens of logos to choose from, and after some vacillating I went with the Timber Rattlers. I’ve always liked their logo, and figured I’d represent Wisconsin since I keep meaning to visit there in a professional context and thus far have been unable to do so. Also, I thought one their staff members might slip me a bit of the raffle winnings in exchange for the free promo I was giving them. (It was not to be, but please remember that I am always open to bribery.)
So there you go — I got a temporary tattoo. It lasted for the better part of a week, and I grew to like it because it made me feel tough.
With things winding down, I strolled through the PBEO Job Fair area. These photos, like most that I took, aren’t very exciting. But perhaps they will help contextualize the series of Job Seeker Journals that have run on this blog.
The final order of business for me was simply to attend the Gala, a three hour party (food and drinks included) attended by virtually every Minor League Baseball employee at the Winter Meetings. As such, it marks my last chance to network, and by “network” I mean slowly walk around the premises in a circle and see who talks to me.
I have no pictures from the Gala, which this year was held at a nearby Dave and Busters, but I do have an anecdote: I’ve been following a gluten-free diet since June, and the Gala marked the first time I had ever been in a situation with literally NO options. Every single item on offer was breaded and fried, and I felt like a real chump standing there with an empty plate and not knowing what to do. Eventually an MLBAM colleague of mine who is also gluten-free asked to talk to a manager about the situation, and the manager, well meaning but totally clueless, offered to go to a nearby Subway to get us dinner. That’s kinda like inviting someone with a seafood allergy to Red Lobster but we let it slide, and eventually they brought us soup and salad for the kitchen. Good enough! I was more interested in the open bar anyway.
Also good enough was my Winter Meetings experience in general. I flew back to NYC the following day, and soon managed to get a severe case of food poisoning courtesy of a local taco truck that I often frequent (I still love you, taco truck.) But before all of that happened, I got in a little QT with perhaps the most reliable individual in my life. She could stand to lose a few pounds, perhaps, but I suppose that’s true for most of us.
If I didn’t see you this year in Nashville — well, here’s to Orlando in 2013!
To all who read this particularly self-indulgent entry: Happy Holidays, and thanks so much for sticking with me.
Now that it’s all said and done, Linda Le offers a poolside perspective on what the experience meant to her and fills us in on her still uncertain plans for 2013. Follow Linda on Twitter @MsLinda_Le, and read her other entries here:
Winter Meetings 2012: Final Thoughts
As I write my final thoughts on the Winter Meetings, I’m actually lounging poolside in the Dominican Republic. Some may call it a family trip but I like to label it a scouting trip for the next Jose Bautista or Jose Reyes.
Attending the Winter Meetings for the first time was a very exciting experience. While I was there to attend the Job Fair there were other various aspects to enjoy and experience, which included connecting with other job seekers as well as baseball executives.
Going into Nashville I knew I might run into a couple of challenges. One factor being that I did not have a great wealth of baseball knowledge under my belt compared to the other job seekers. I grew up watching baseball with my brother and father but I can’t recall every stat there is to know. If I could do that then I would have specifically pursued a career in baseball scouting or become an analyst. Taking part in the Business of Baseball Workshop on the first day helped me realize there’s more of a need to focus on the business side of baseball than it is to just be a fan of the sport.
The second challenge I thought I would encounter is the fact that I was a female trying to break into an industry made up mostly of men. During the Winter Meetings, I did feel like a unicorn being only one of the few women attending but that quickly turned into something I embraced as I felt that people would see me as someone that was easy to approach and talk to – case in point, every night at the Opryland drinking at one of the bars in the resort. Oh how liquid courage seems so appropriate at a place where the ratio of men to women is close to 100 to 1.
As a follow-up from my last post where an offer was extended to me, compensation and housing was still being negotiated. The GM has since indicated that housing could not be secured at the start of the internship, which at that point was the only compensation available. I have since declined that opportunity but the GM had indicated of course that if anything changes then we would reconnect again.
After returning home from the Winter Meetings in Nashville I was contacted by another Minor League team in regards to a Community Relations internship. I am currently still in talks to see what may come out of this encounter.
Overall I view my time spent in Nashville as only a positive experience and I will be definitely attending in Orlando in 2013. I believe that anyone looking to break into the world of professional baseball should consider attending the Winter Meetings. I’ve met many people who have been attending for several years, even a couple of people who have been going for as long as I’ve been alive (I’m in my twenties). Even if you walk away with no offers, you will still leave with great memories of meeting new people and of course staying connected can ultimately lead to great career prospects.
See you in Orlando!
Thanks to Linda for sharing her perspective throughout the process. Here’s hoping we’ll be seeing her at a Minor League ballpark in 2013.
Now that it’s all said and done, Chris Miller offers his views on the trials and triumphs of the Winter Meetings Job Seeking experience. And — no spoilers! — he lets us know where he’ll be working during the 2013 season. Follow Chris on Twitter @Cmill004, and read his other entries here:
When I signed up for the Winter Meetings in Nashville this year, I really only had one thing set in stone: I was pretty excited. Another than that I really was uncertain of what to except — who I was going to meet, what job opportunities where available and so forth.
After spending four nights in the city and logging several hundreds of miles on my car, the one thing I can take away from the Winter Meetings is that it is an experience. Obviously that’s an extremely vague description if someone is getting information about it for the first time. You can use any type of similar adjective you want and it would probably work.
The event was beneficial for several reasons. I got to see a big city (and hotel) I had never been to. I talked to some baseball and media personnel (during one walk across the hotel I passed Bruce Bochy, Charlie Manuel, Joe Maddon, Joe Girardi and Tony La Russa). I caught up with people in the industry I hadn’t seen in a while. All of these are great things, but obviously I was there to land a job, not to eavesdrop on Craig Counsell about how his back is holding up. That’s where I am somewhat disappointed.
Having worked in baseball three seasons so I felt I had a decent chance of getting an interview or two. Did I expect to become the general manager of a team? Absolutely not. I realized how many people were going to be at the event, and I knew there were going to be a lot of smart men and women trying to get a few jobs in the industry. Did I think I would get an interview with a team? There was almost no doubt in my mind I would.
I was somewhat selective when it came to applying for jobs. I put my resume in for just 12 jobs during my time at the Job Fair (I saw people slaving away at the work room filling out 20-30 at a time). Out of the 12 I applied for one team posted times for interviews. One. That was the most frustrating thing to me. Not that I was being turned down for jobs after long talks with multiple members of a front office for a person who was better suited for the job than me. No, I wasn’t even given the opportunity to talk to anybody, to attempt to sell myself to them. That whole process left me pretty stunned.
The whole trip involving jobs wasn’t a loss though. I had three interviews that I had scheduled in advance of the Job Fair where I met for jobs for the upcoming season. All three went fairly good, and I met with one particular team multiple times to meet more members of the front office. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was offered two positions and had to make my decision within a time frame. Without a doubt the decision I made was the hardest I’ve ever had to make. Both were incredibly opportunities, and I couldn’t go wrong with either decision. With that being said, I’m happy to say I’ll be joining the Indianapolis Indians as a Marketing Assistant starting in January.
If someone who had never been to the PBEO Job Fair before asked me if it was worth his or her time (and money), I would definitely suggest going. Obviously they can’t guarantee you employment, but it puts you in the best situation to be able to land a job in baseball. The people you meet could someday help you get a job down the road. For a pure baseball fan as well, it’s almost heaven with players, coaches and media all confined to one particular area. My advice I would offer would be if you really want baseball to be your career, it will happen. It won’t happen overnight, and maybe not even after four or five years of seasonal work. But if you put in hard work, you’ll be lucky enough to be one of the few who travel to the ballpark everyday for their job.
Thanks to Chris for sharing his experiences, and good luck in Indy!
Going into this year’s Winter Meetings, I had never met Sean Kane or heard of his company Painted Glove Collectibles. But Mr. Kane got in touch with me just prior to things kicking off in Nashville, saying that he’d love the opportunity to show me his baseball paintings. Of course, I was happy to oblige.
We met just outside of the Trade Show, where Sean laid out his unique (and extremely well done) baseball artwork atop a brick wall while a I quizzed him about how he came to pursue this particular line of work, the tricks of the trade, and what brought him to Nashville in the first place.
Ben’s Biz (aka “Guy referring to himself in the third person”): So, how did this whole ‘painting on gloves’ thing come about?
Sean Kane: I’m a lifelong baseball fan who grew up in Chicago. I went to both parks growing up but am probably more of a Cubs fan. I’m also a professional artist, and have been an illustrator for 18 years for various publications.
This was always something percolating in the background — I was always going to baseball games, and always interested in gloves and stadiums. I was looking for a way to overlap these loves, and hit upon the idea of painting baseball gloves about 10 years ago….The first gloves I designed were more cartoony and decorative, but over the years it’s evolved to a finer portraiture, trying to tie in the history of the game and those other layers.
Ben’s Biz: Where do you get the gloves, and what sort of paint do you use?
Sean Kane: The internet is a good source for a lot of this stuff. There are guys who deal in antique gloves, so I look through their offerings and try to find something that will work. Older gloves have more surface space and fewer seams to them, providing more of a canvas to work on….I try to avoid signature models, because then I’d have to paint that person on it. Although I am looking for a Yogi Berra catcher’s model because I have a design worked out featuring Yogi and his quotes and I think that would be a fun future project.
I use acrylic paints, because they work really well with the leather. Those old gloves, even if they’ve been abandoned and found in a box at Salvation Army, they’ve got a great feel to them and take the acrylic paint really well. And that’s about it — really, really small brushes round out the art supplies as far as that goes.
Ben’s Biz: How do you go about selling the Painted Gloves, and who buys them?
Sean Kane: I mostly market them online through my website, as well as art shows [Sean’s gloves will be exhibited at Bergino Baseball Clubhouse in NYC next year]. They’re not inexpensive, more for the discerning baseball fan, although the market I imagine might include teaming up with organizations that want to thank their Legacy Box club members or corporate sponsors. Or maybe through a Hall of Fame that wants to do something special for its inductees.
It’s about 50-50, [regarding] gloves people ask me to design versus the ones I do on my own. I’m looking at doing one of Koufax, as well as Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente, and part of that is dictated by what I know people like. I’m also interested in expanding the concept, to work with current or past players who might want to feature the highlights of their career on one of their old gloves.
Growing up a Cubs fan, I’d love to do a Ron Santo glove one day. That’s the key one. And as far as a current player I’d love to do an Ichiro — I lived in Seattle during his time there and really came to appreciate his approach. He reveres his gloves and I can’t imagine that he’d let me paint one, but you never know.
Ben’s Biz: So what prompted you to travel to the Winter Meetings?
Sean Kane: I wanted to check out the Trade Show to see if it would be a viable exhibition space for myself; maybe I’ll exhibit in Orlando [at the Winter Meetings] next year. I also wanted to meet people in person, to show these gloves to individuals who I’ve met online who are in the business. It’s one thing to see something online, but completely different to hold a 70-year-old glove that someone’s painted.
Thanks to Sean for getting in touch — one of these days I may commission him to do a glove commemorating my 1992 season with the Wissahickon Middle School seventh grade baseball team. I started every game, but only went 1-for-3 on the season because I walked in all of my other plate appearances. I was like the Eddie Gaedel of suburban Philadelphia.
Prior to the Winter Meetings, I made it be known that I would be willing to conduct an “instant interview” with any attendee interested in doing one. A whopping two people ended up taking me up on it, the first of whom shall be featured today: Dan Simon.
While you may not recognize his name, Simon’s work is familiar to anyone with even a passing interest in Minor League Baseball. He’s the man behind Studio Simon, the Louisville-based design firm responsible for dozens of logos throughout the MiLB landscape (including recent efforts such as the Erie SeaWolves and Aberdeen IronBirds.) He’s also the man behind this, the official logo of the Winter Meetings themselves:
In this brief Q and A, Dan sheds a little light on the history of the Winter Meetings logo and the philosophies and strategies that guide the process.
Ben’s Biz (aka: “The Guy Typing This”): How long have you been designing the Winter Meetings logo?
Dan Simon: The first one was 2003, New Orleans. The reason for it was because Brian Earle, who at the time was director of licensing for Minor League Baseball, saw that [offseason] events like the NFL Draft and, later, the Combine, were now branded. Similarly, Brian wanted to brand the Winter Meetings as what they are: one of the biggest, if not the biggest, offseason events in all of sports.
And it wasn’t just about what the Winter Meetings were, but what they should be. We certainly can’t take all of the credit for it, but the growth of the Meetings to where they are today started to happen when they were branded as an important event. That was Brian’s vision, and that was the result.
Ben’s Biz: So what are the key elements of a good Winter Meetings logo?
Dan Simon: I had already done two Super Bowl logos — XXXVI in New Orleans and XXXVII in San Diego. Both of those events were branded to be city-specific and we wanted to brand the Winter Meetings similarly. People are coming from all over the United States, to this one place, and we wanted the identity to reflect the destination. The first one we did, in New Orleans, had a jazz musician in it. 2004, in Anaheim, represented southern California’s car culture and Dallas 2005 had steer horns and barbed wire.
In the future, maybe we won’t be site specific. We’ve already done two in Orlando [site of the 2013 Meetings], so maybe we’ve already covered the appropriate visual references…Now we may be looking to do a logo that is more about baseball and the Winter Meetings than it is the destination. I don’t know if we’ll necessarily go that way, but it’s something that we’ve discussed.
Ben’s Biz: What was the thought process behind this year’s logo?
Dan Simon: Nashville is the Music City, of course, and 2007’s logo had a music theme as well….There are other things about Nashville, but that’s what people really know about it and so we wanted to re-visit that theme.
There’s also the Trade Show and Job Fair. Those are secondary logos, the children of the Winter Meetings logo, which is the main logo. They’re not meant to look exactly alike, but the Trade Show and Job Fair should look like they were born out of the primary Winter Meetings logo. We used a record-containing shape for the Trade Show and a guitar pick for the Job Fair, so it’s all music related. But it all starts with the jukebox.
The primary logo and its two “children”:
Thanks, Dan, for taking the time to speak with me. If you’d like to share something related to your experiences within the world of Minor League Baseball, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. (Seriously — if you hesitate I will be offended.)
Now that it’s all said and done, Clint Belau (now gainfully employed by the Birmingham Barons) offers his final thoughts on the whole endeavor. Follow Clint on Twitter @clintbelau, and read his other entries here:
THE VALUE OF THE EXPERIENCE
Now that I’m a few days separated from the whirlwind that was the Winter Meetings, I feel comfortable stating that I’ve officially come down from the high, and can state my opinion of the experience in 100% honesty. So get ready folks, I’m not pulling any punches. (Not that I have any punches to throw, but rest assured, if I did, I would throw them…cause this here is real!)
As someone who’s just beginning my journey in this industry, the single most notable observation to point out is just how much everyone seems to extend their figurative hand. Obviously, this is a statement that has the potential to change in the future, but based on first impression alone, it really seems to stand out. From the speakers at our workshop, to the occasional visitor in the work room, to the general conversations in the hallway, anyone who is a veteran in the industry seems to make themselves more than available to give advice and share their story. It’s a matter of approaching them, which as someone trying to break in, is not always as easy as it would seem. Just walking up and saying hi to someone who you watch on tv every day, or who’s articles you read on a consistent basis, or who you follow on Twitter and reply to, then nervously wait for the day when they reply back to you, is no small feat. Especially during a week where you fully realize how busy they might be, professionally keeping track of all of the action. However, if you can get over that initial fear, these are some of the nicest, most down to Earth people you’ll ever find. The idea that I’m joining an industry full of people like this is incredibly exciting.
Admittedly, I came to the Winter Meetings looking at this a little more through the eyes of a lifetime baseball obsessor, rather than through the eyes of a first time job seeker. When you’ve spent 30 years studying every stat, watching as many games as humanly possible, and constantly researching any off season action you can, it’s impossible to suppress that part of your being. That portion of my brain had perhaps the best week of its life. The other part of my brain, the part that was anxious to begin a new career, hopeful of what was to come, yet fearful of it being a total failure, was pleasantly surprised. This wasn’t the rat race one might have anticipated. More so, it seemed to be a gathering of friends, new and old, working towards a common goal. While the actual opportunities that were available via the job fair might have been a bit exaggerated, the opportunities that you could potentially create for yourself seemed infinite. It’s all a matter of putting yourself in the right position. And the Winter Meetings certainly seem to be that right position.
Now there is still that underlying element to this whole story, which is my age (35). In my personal experience, age seems to be far less important than enthusiasm. Sure, I’m coming at this from a bit of a different angle than most, but everyone has a different path. And in an arena such as this, it’s about turning your potential negatives into a positive. You have to figure out what separates you from the rest, and accentuate that. Personally, having a mixed bag of tricks experience-wise is most likely mine. My path to this point has given me the opportunity to amass a variety of skills (read: pursuing a career in stand up/music did not pay the bills, so I’ve been forced to have a lot of “normal” jobs). To be able to now apply that set of skills towards contributing to an organization’s success is incredibly exciting.
I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating: I believe life is about experiences. I also believe that the experience of a ballpark can create a very unique impact on people’s lives. To dedicate myself to helping create that potential impact on a daily basis, is something that simply saying I’m looking forward to, is not nearly enough. This is the one game I love, and for my life to be dedicated to providing fans the opportunity to enjoy it as much as I have, is what the term “rewarding career” is all about. This isn’t a career I’m pursuing because I think it’s cool, or because I want to hang out with players and have front row seats to games. This is a career I am pursuing because it is the one way that I feel I can truly help impact the lives of others in a positive manner. Alright — unsolicited, overly dramatic monologue about my inner feelings concluded.
The reason for this article was to document our experience at the Winter Meetings, and more so, the PBEO Job Fair, as a first time job seeker. After gaining some distance from the experience, my feelings have not changed. If you are looking to break into the industry, this is an event that you simply must attend. It was in incredible networking opportunity, and the job fair did provide a plethora of potential jobs. It was a fantastic way to hone interview skills, get your name out there, and develop a network within the industry. It is an experience that will be paramount to my success.
Stay tuned for the final thoughts — and, more importantly, the final job decisions, of the other three job seekers.
Throughout this year’s Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to keep a journal chronicling their employment seeking experiences. (Meet them all HERE). In this installment, Linda Le networks throughout the vast expanses of the Opryland before sharing some hard-earned wisdom.
Linda Le archives:
12/5/12: GOODBYE MUSIC CITY!
There was a calmness in the Gaylord Opryland Convention Centre as the PBEO job fair was nearing to a close on Wednesday afternoon. Most job seekers were packing up and heading home if they had not done so already.
My day actually started with finishing up my journal entry from the day before (better late than never right Ben?) I then decided to reach out to Bill Wanless, VP of Public Relations with the Pawtucket Red Sox to have lunch that afternoon. I had met Wanless and other members of the Pawtucket Red Sox front office staff the drunken night before. I like to think I had a power lunch with Wanless where we discussed and strategized about revamping the current PR practices for the PawSox but Wanless might say otherwise. He might just recall me conversing in a Bostonian accent if anything.
Wanless provided great insight in regards to his career in professional baseball. He started with the organization as an intern and is now responsible for all aspects of public relations amongst other things as well. It was a great opportunity to sit down with him and get his perspective on working in Minor League baseball especially considering he started out as an intern. We also discussed the need for more women within the industry and that there wasn’t a healthy representation at the moment.
From my previous journal entry I had indicated that I had an interview lined up with the GM for a Minor League team. The role itself was for Promotions and Merchandising with an affiliate of the Blue Jays. The interview was as casual as can be; we met in the middle, or what I thought was the middle of the Orpyland Resort (this place has its own zip code) and discussed the role further while crowds of tour groups passed by. At one point we gave directions to an elderly woman who didn’t know her way around, but then again who did?
The interview resulted in the GM extending an offer to me but compensation still had to be finalized in the next few days. I was pleased to hear that our ten minute conversation turned into an offer – oh how quick things can happen in the business of baseball. At this point nothing has been confirmed in regards to an acceptance.
Overall my time spent at the Winter Meetings was a great experience and I’m glad I made the decision to come to Nashville. From the fellow job seekers I’ve met to the great connections to baseball executives, it’s been nothing but productive and rewarding.
To sum up my time spent here in Nashville, the following are some key factors I’ve learned at the Winter Meetings:
— Network as much as you can; this can lead to your next great career
— Be open to any opportunity in professional baseball as moving to one role to another can happen within a short period of time
— I’m starting to enjoy listening to country music
— Being one of the few females at the Winter Meetings I learned that drinks are free
— I’ve been eating the wrong kind of chowder – courtesy of Joe McDonald from ESPN Boston; thanks Joe!
— Be honest and be yourself – being honest with your intentions prevents being disappointed
Thanks to Linda for her journaling contributions throughout the Meetings. Perhaps there will be more…
Throughout this year’s Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair agreed to keep a journal chronicling their employment seeking experiences. (Meet them all HERE). In this installment, Eric Schmitz offers a refreshingly honest assessment of his final day at the Job Fair.
Erik Schmitz archives:
12/5/12 — GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Wednesday was a very interesting day. I had brilliantly decided to stay up and write my journal entry after I got back from the bar and before I went to bed, so I slept through my first alarm and scrambled to get over to Opryland. I had an 8:30 follow-up interview with the team I had met with Monday, which had been scheduled by a late phone call Tuesday evening I received while at The Falls. [one of the Gaylord Opryland’s many drinking spots]
Over the course of later Monday and Tuesday, I had sold myself on this position being the one that had the strongest scores in both likelihood of being selected and being the best opportunity. So it was on my mind most of the day Tuesday, and whereas in past Job Fairs, when I had multitudes of interviews to distract me, it wasn’t so much the case this time around.
Rushing over to Opryland, I neglected to remember that it helps to relax and remember that you did good in the first interview, so my mind wasn’t in the best place. Needless to say, I wasn’t impressive, and when you realize that yourself, you know that’s not good. In contrast with the initial sit down, which was great but very casual, this seemed like a real, super-serious job interview, and I was definitely caught off guard. So after a good 20 minutes of not doing much to solidify my candidacy, the interview was over. I walked away thinking Earnest Byner would be the only one who could truly appreciate what just happened.
With the posting rooms just opening for the day, I walked up to check the boards to see what else was happening. On Wednesday, there was officially one position posted. I walked through the interview posting room, and it was bare like I’ve never seen it. Anyone that was only there for the Job Fair could’ve bounced Tuesday night and would’ve been fine. Comparing the three days of this year’s job fair to past job fairs, I think this might have been the least active of them all. Many of the positions I put resumes in for, well, without evidence to back it up, probably the majority of what I put in for were never even posted for interviews.
Sure, I know the teams attending are busy, they’re there for business, and that maybe they don’t have enough people there to do interviews and attend the necessary functions. The job seekers showing up put a lot of money into coming from all over for this, knowing they can interview face-to-face for the chance to pursue their career, and I feel like the amount of opportunities to do so this year was disappointing. If teams want to interview over the phone and judge on a person’s voice, great, but maybe I just don’t see how these organizations wouldn’t jump at the chance to sit at a table with the people they need to pick from.
Because of the lack of activity, I spent a good amount of time of sitting in the workroom chatting with people and wandering around the Trade Show. After a few hours of that, I walked over to meet some of the Sounds staff who had already went to Opry Mills for lunch. I ended up running into Sounds GM Brad Tammen halfway there, and as we walked, he asked me about how things were going and I told him about what I had going. He had some very valuable advice about how to handle my choices, and I’m continually appreciative of how the network of people you work with in Minor League Baseball will continue to help you out after you move on.
Other than sporadically checking the posting rooms (mostly not even walking in, just asking and being told that nothing else was posted) I did a bit of wandering before I decided to just head back to the hotel and take a nap. The way the day started and the inactivity after that wasn’t exactly encouraging. But while the afternoon was dull, the night wouldn’t be the same.
Thanks to an unnamed friend who wasn’t going to be around for the Gala, I was able to score a ticket to maybe the highlight of the week’s agenda. This year, they had it at Dave & Buster’s over at Opry Mills, and it was fantastic. The baseball world had their run of the place, and there’s no job seeker tag or staff tag separating everyone (unless you were wearing one, and I know better than that). Free food, free drinks and free games. Having met so many people through Winter Meetings, working in baseball, whatever… it’s great to just hang out and have fun in an environment like that. I’d say the $75 might be more than I’d ever be willing to shell out to attend, but having a ticket, it’s a no-brainer to go. It was a great time up until they pulled the plug (literally) on it at 10.
With a nice head start and the rest of the night ahead, with nothing awaiting Thursday morning, I headed downtown with Kevin and Leon (previously mentioned in this journal series) and a few guys from the Arkansas Travelers. One of my friends here in Nashville, Alyssa Foote, was at the Trade Show with Cymplify, a merchandise company (check them out, people!) and they had a VIP party at a bar down on 2nd Street. The place was packed with baseball executives of all levels, and they had a live performance by Keith Anderson, which was fantastic. It was a great way to wrap up a crazy few days.
Over four days, I met some great people and did what I could to make my way in the industry. There’s still an offer on the table, and hopefully more to come. Now, it’s just waiting for something to happen.
My sincere thanks to Eric for providing us with this account of his Winter Meetings experience, and stay tuned for a final update…