A Year in Minor League Baseball from a Girl Who Never Thought She Would Work in Sports

So I decided to hold off on posting this until my experience was literally almost 365 with the Hartford Yard Goats. The 2019 season has officially wrapped up and an entire year of working in Minor League Baseball has been checked off… not by just checking off the boxes though of course. I’ve been trying to find the words to say thank you. —My first season of working in Minor League Baseball and with the Yard Goats HAPPENED.

Let’s start off by saying this is a full-time, year-round job.  It’s not an internship, or a “summer gig” or a “part-time job while [I’m] in high school.” It happens, every day, a lot of hours, a lot of time.

Ok, now here’s a few definitions for context:

baseball base·​ball | \ ˈbās-ˌbȯl (noun, often attributive); a game played with a bat and ball between two teams of nine players each on a large field having four bases that mark the course a runner must take to score.

Minor League Baseball; here, read this.

When I first accepted the job, the first thing that ran through my mind once it processed that I actually said yes, I was like oh my gosh I went to school with so many people that majored in sports management or sports marketing that want this more, or deserve this more, or are more qualified for this. I thought about my friends that I no longer am friends with, that used to hate on me so hard for going to Yankees games with my college boyfriend and his family, and getting mad at me for not caring or knowing anything about the team, or more than the basics of the sport and that I didn’t deserve to go. They would tell me that they deserved to go and I should have stayed home…. WILD RIGHT. But I was me. I was Danielle. Going with the flow, happy wherever I was and embracing my experiences.

Yeah, so now I’m like wow if only I did care more about the sport then, and networking, things may be different. But looking back, I got to where I am because I wasn’t like that, I wasn’t thinking that, I was just there for the enjoyment of the game.. There to laugh, and smile, and have fun around people I loved. Just like the goal that I have now at every game, on every game day at Dunkin’ Donuts Park. If I acted any other way when I went to MLB games, I wouldn’t be here right now, laying on my couch in my own apartment telling you how much my life has changed since those days.

Here’s a picture of me eating a giant bucket of chicken & fries at a Yankees game in 2016 for context:

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I used to work ‘Late Night at the Rock’ in college; hosting events, creating themes & flyers, buying supplies, and advertising. Despite my college friends and roommates making fun of me for working rather than going out, I loved it… which is why I think working at the Yard Goats has worked out so well. I don’t mind the nights and the weekends being taken up by the games. Yes, it’s frustrating at at times to think of all of the other things I could be doing, but you make sacrifices for many reasons. Because just like in college, the events don’t feel like work. It’s creating and executing, repeat. You get 70 chances to be better (70 games in a season), redo the good, edit the bad, learn from mistakes, grow from experiences.

I’ve learned very quickly to develop a strong opinion about myself so that I don’t accidentally start to believe what others say about me, or my choices and decisions. It’s certainly a lifestyle to work in Minor League Baseball. I had NO IDEA any of this even existed, so it always fascinates me when I get emails, or LinkedIn messages saying “you have my dream job, how do I get there?” … and my answer is always simple. Be you. Don’t worry about external things that may make you question if what you’re doing, or the choices you’re making are right for you. Trust yourself, listen to your heart, and follow your head.

I went from a  job where everyone was asking me all the questions and I was the one that had all of the answers, to a job where I had unlimited questions and knew none of the answers. However, I was shown fast that I knew a lot more than I thought I did. Not so much about the sport or industry, but just answers in general. I’d ask my boss questions, unsure of the answer, or just unsure on how to approach it… his answer would be,”Idk, ask the social media manager.” Me. That’s me. I manage the social media. I was put into an environment that was so out of the ordinary for me, but the job itself I knew how to do. Every day it still remains a constant battle between trusting myself, or questioning myself. EVEN WITH THE LITTLEST THINGS.

Here’s the guy, my boss, the one that recruited me to be in this position, that trusted I was capable, more than capable, to fulfill the position and what was needed by the company (yes, working for a baseball team is a company just like any else), usually FaceTiming me asking me why I’m not at my desk (2 examples below):

My goal this year was to remain as present as possible and I stayed committed to that. I learned that being too present is a thing. I’d catch myself so much saying “I can’t breathe” …. Like literally. Meaning that I just would be going going going, thinking, over stimulated, that I’d forget to just take a deep breath and relax. Always with a smile. If you’ve witnessed it, you know LOL.

Q from Instagram: How did you get the job? That’s a conversation for over coffee. Call/DM/Text/Lalala me. But huge shout out to Mike Abramson, the General Manager at The Hartford Yard Goats for the opportunity to be the Promotions & Marketing Manager.

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We ended the season with an 8 day, 9 game homestand. Talk about testing your endurance after already working 50+ games and so many days in a row. Weekends didn’t exist, texts didn’t always get timely responses back, sitting down was rarely a thing. Just talking, smiling, moving- happiness, honestly. I learned where and how to prioritize my time and focus, which I thought I already had a good handle on… but nope.

Q from Instagram: What was your favorite part and what degree do you need? It’s not about the degree, it’s never about the degree (@ people that are in college now, don’t freak out too much about your specific degree, just focus on learning transferable skills and gaining experiences in various things). It’s about your experiences, what you’re capable of, how you handle /carry yourself… and not just that, but sharing universally that you have them. Use social platforms to express yourself. Thank you Western New England University for allowing me to love my classes, my major, and not making me feel like I had to have my life figured out when I graduated. With my open mind and ability to have so much leadership experience throughout my undergraduate years, I was able to manifest this position at The Hartford Yard Goats without even realizing. I always fan-girled the Yard Goats marketing & social approach. Little did I know that by posting about my life experiences on my own personal accounts, could translate into traits that the organization was looking for.

Q from Instagram: Will you be my girlfriend? No. (this was actually sent to me and I LOL’d because there’s actually not time for that either, bye).

Q from Instagram: How is it working in a male dominated organization (at least perceived) as a woman? The biggest challenge is not having a woman in senior leadership. Rather than having internal female mentors, I’ve been lucky enough to be accepted in the MiLB Lift Program! I, along with 60+ other women in Minor League Baseball, was selected to participate in the 2020 Women in Baseball LIFT (Leaders Inspiring Future Talent) Mentorship Program! The program is committed to supporting career advancement and strengthening professional development.

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Home stand (noun); a series of baseball games played at a team’s home field

WHO KNEW! … Anyway, the home stands get long, draining, crazy how back to back to back they are. THEY CAN GET TIRING. Or more like “who am I, what day is it, am I really breathing right now, etc.”  I had the opportunity to do the CT DOT Seat Upgrade at the beginning of every game, which was an incredible experience to interact with fans and learn more about how they journeyed to Dunkin’ Donuts Park (more deets here). At the El Paso Innovation Summit (when I attended in September), it was reminded to all that one home stand is x% of your season. So to say ‘let’s make that change next year,’ or ‘we’ll fix it for next home stand’ could be extremely detrimental to your success. Always having the mentality that tonight is someone’s first game, and could possibly be their last, allows you to try very hard to always work and live in the present. The days get long and tough, but adjustments can be hard but it is possible to make changes, enhancements that day, that minute, as opposed to waiting. You know you have another game, another homestand, another x amount of months, but not everyone does. Someone could have flown from xx, or got the chance to receive free tickets because they couldn’t afford or wouldn’t choose to allocate their money towards a game. So the time is now. It’s a privilege to be in a position to entertain, and if you have the skills, use them fully to enhance experience & make a significant positive impact. A huge takeaway is to remind myself that our target on social really is everyone. We want people that are miles away to have FOMO, those that cannot physically get here to have the same positive feelings as if they were at the park. Pushing all of the little pieces of the theme nights, having the park always “show ready” is important.

Q from Instagram: If you were to change anything within the workplace environment, what would it be? Hm, maybe a daily little pow wow to remind everyone what day, hour it is, who we are, what our names are etc. No but really, something that keeps us grounded and into reality.

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Q from Instagram: What are some (if any) challenges you had to take on? Everything…. lol. No but actually, like everything. Every day is a challenge, and always leaves me in so many mixed emotions. I swear I feel every emotion ever possible at least once a day. So much goes on, planned and unplanned, that you’re forced to adapt very quickly. It really tests every aspect of what you’re capable of. I’ve always heard people say if you can work in Minor League Baseball, you can work anywhere after. And I’m reeaaaaalllly starting to understand why.

Q from Instagram: Do you get to enjoy the sports aspect of the job or are you too busy working the games/events? I’ve never chosen prior to this job to really enjoy the sport and game, so I don’t really miss it really. I’ve watched it growing up, and gone to a few games, but never enough to miss it. But yes, I barely get to see the game happen. I’m behind the scenes making sure we have what we need for the next on-field promotion. And if I have downtime, I’m responding to comments on social media & posting content.

“You want the fan outcome to be ‘I don’t know who won’ that means you’re doing your job right” WHICH WAS AWESOME TO HEAR because even I never knew who won during the season. I’d ask out loud to my goat squad or a front office staff member if they were still around when I was. The goal is for fan entertainment to be key, leaving them with enough to do and be entertained by, whether that means they’re paying attention to the game or not.

Oh yeah, and I also became a mascot mom, managing the mascot crew; frequently bathing & grooming Chompers & Chew Chew. I hosted mascot auditions back in February with little to no expectations. Little did I know that some of the people in this photo were going to be my back bone of this job. From assisting in our creation of our TikTok account videos, wanting to get more involved in the community, always approaching me with new ideas to enhance the fan experience. At first it was really hard. People didn’t show, they didn’t answer emails or phone calls or texts. I had to figure out how they chose to communicate and how I could reach them to be on “their team.” For anyone else that’s ever managed mascots, it’s a different kind of thing. Those you hire are all different ages, abilities, backgrounds- people retired (shout out to Dave), siblings (Dave, yes same Dave as retired Dave & Jack), in high school, in college, not in college, have other part-time jobs, have full time jobs, or you’re their only part-time job.  I’ve since created a new mascot google form that makes things very easy for the person requesting an appearance, and then the person on the backend that has to schedule (me),

You don’t realize how much effort goes into all of this, and the industry. It’s like survivor expect no bugs, no million dollar prize, and everyone within your tribe must win if you want to also win. I’ve literally made notes in my planner next year for the basic things: take a breath, relax your shoulders, because without my full attention and best self, I’m limiting the final outcome.

Things that were a part of the job that I never knew existed:

  • Pulling tarp. Yes, like I mean a giant tarp that lays across the ENTIRE baseball field part, like all around the bases
  • “Team Feed” as in yes, our front office staff gets fed on game days! Woo!
  • Forgetting when and how to drink water regularly, or when your last meal was
  • Not remembering which cup of coffee you’re on
  • LALALALA the list goes on and on

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Ok- let’s talk Game Day.

It’s incredible to be able to work somewhere, and spend so much time where you can see people that you haven’t seen in so long– childhood, high school, college, past jobs, random friends, family, family friends. What’s also incredible is that I rewrote/typed the lineup for all 140+ games this season and still can’t tell you the position numbers.

Here’s what I mean for reference:

What I’m supposed to             Who sends/is supposed to     Me on my parent’s couch
have memorized:                      send me the lineups:             posting an away game lineup:

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Also, here’s a Twitter thread about starting lineups that you won’t want to miss. CLICK HERE.

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I’ve had the opportunity to manage our “Goat Squad,” which is essentially our promotions team that makes everything in-game on-field happen. BEST PART: I’d say ‘We’re happy, were smiling’ as soon as everyone would walk/run onto the field. And they’d instantly laugh, and be forced to naturally fall into a positive state. It’s about the energy and hype you bring that will be reciprocated. Watching this team grow as people, and as game day staff has been the best part. One of my kids went from not wanting to go to college, to applying, getting accepted and choosing to major in sports marketing & entertainment. My heart has never been so full to be able to provide someone a platform where they could be themselves, enjoy their time, and unravel qualities and traits that they never knew existed.

Balancing that and social was certainly a challenge, rather than “failing,” it’s all about problem solving and figuring out how you can delegate tasks to ensure everything gets done. Talking person social vs. work social, it’s a really tough thing to balance. For me, I was very active on my social accounts prior to taking this job. Knowing when to post, what to post on my own became difficult, as some could be posted to the Yard Goats account as opposed to mine. It’s also very easy to get caught up in work, work, work, and not take a step back for yourself.

Riley was the Senior Associate that was under the Promotions Dept. (who has since been promoted to a full-time front office staff member, woo!),  learned how to speak my language. She was finishing my sentences, making sense of my little words or noises, my facial expressions, putting together what we needed to still be done, reminding me of the basic things like ‘have you drank water recently’ and ‘do you have your radio,’ ‘have you charged your phone,’ ‘are you going to change soon we only have a few minutes until gates open.’ “You gotta love the grind and be good at it,” someone at the Innovators Summit told me. And damn, were we good at it.

Q via text: What are you trying to find through this Job? It’s not so much if what I’m trying to find, it’s more of what and who is trying to find me. Every day I’m curious who I’ll cross paths with. People ask what my 2 year, 5 year, 10 year plan is. I have no idea. I don’t have a plan. I’m just giving my all to my current position, while innovating and creating along the way to help make my job easier, while also empowering others to take the lead. It’s about who will the universe bring me in contact with by just trusting myself, doing my thing.

Throughout the season my opinions on situations, and people changed so frequently. It’s such a fast pace environment, and you really get to know people for who they really are. In the moment, it’s easy to get tangled in the ‘now’ and difficult to remove yourself from the bigger picture. Having real life, normal conversations is what keeps us all grounded during the season.

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I’ve gained such a strong respect for the players — the time, commitment, the consistent effort to continue to be better versions of themselves to go after something that they really want. It’s really easy to get lost in the chaos, but trying your best to remain present, while improving is the best you can do. Trying to stay present, while trying to maintain your ‘current life’ is tough. For me, it was, and continues to be really difficult because I live and work only about 10 minutes from my parents and family, where others I work with have a longer commute, bigger distance from family, or moved from out of state to work in Hartford.

For promotions & theme nights, the preparing, behind the scenes, a schedule outside of in-season that doesn’t allow for much of a normal social life. You very quickly notice how easy it is to get caught up in the actual emotions of situations, rather than the actual concrete tasks of the job since you’re emerged fully into your work-life environment.

People used to get mad when people would post to social, and then not answer their texts. This job gave this a whole new meaning for me. Sometimes it’d take me hours, days, weeks to respond to messages. I’d leave them unread until I was able to give my undivided attention to the message. Or sometimes I’d respond back amidst the chaos on a game day, and forget the conversation even happened. Like a drunk text, but instead, extremely painfully sober, over tired and over worked.

I am so grateful for all of the support from my friends (that didn’t need to be reminded that I luv them even though sometimes I wouldn’t text back for days), family, strangers, fans, throughout the season. Blessed to be somewhere I can see people l haven’t seen in so long. Friends from home, growing up, high school, college, past work friends, random friends, family friends, family. They all somehow end up at the ballpark (and everyone you haven’t talked to in years randomly message you asking for free tickets but we won’t go there.)

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I’ve never been told “you’re so happy” so much in my life. I was so happy and going with the flow that I’d have to take a step back and be like woah, yes. Happy… and happy working in sports which is something I never even imagined (as I’m sure half the people I knew growing up are also saying).

 

The game ended and this little boy wanted a player to sign his ball
but they were all gone. So he asked Ricky and I to sign… next best thing!

It’s not always easy and challenges (similar to the one above) always spark up right away where you need to think very fast. You just put your hair up in a pony or bun and handle it. Own who you are and you’ll always WIN. You are good enough. Be proud of yourself. The outcome and journey may not be anything as planned, but it’s a learning process that will allow you to continue to grow.

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Your coworkers turn into such close friends because of the hours you work, and how closely you work together. That talent that I’m surrounded by daily is incredible. Everyone pulls their weight, does their work and is proud of what they produce, and makes it easy to love coming to work each day.

I could go on and on and on and on and on. I may end up continuing to add to this blog over time, but for now, this is it.

It feels really good to take a step back, looking at certain situations that I entertained or let take away from my actual goal or motives for being here. You’re going to outgrow people that secretly (or not so secretly) have been holding you back. This first season is just a chapter, not my whole story in Minor League Baseball. Thank you to so many people that have had such a powerful impact on my experience, journey, and life. ❤

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Thank you Dziadek for always loving me, being proud of my crazy
adventures & supporting me with wherever life would take me. RIP ❤

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