There and Back Again, A Fan’s Tale

This is a brief story, but one that means a great deal to me.

When I was a kid, there was a baseball card shop in my hometown that I would frequent with my mother. I wasn’t spoiled necessarily, but I was able to earn packs of baseball cards with tasks such as taking out the trash or vacuuming the living room. The store was called “Rain City Sports Cards” but for 9-year-old Max, it may as well have been called heaven.

The Honus Wagner T-206 card is incredibly rare and even more valuable, selling for upwards of $2 million.

The Honus Wagner T-206 card is incredibly rare and even more valuable, selling for upwards of $2 million.

The owner of the store was an awesome guy named Jim Beattie. He could see my fascination with baseball cards and anything baseball related, and he would always go out of his way to give me a great experience when I would come into the store. One of the things that I remember is that he would let me open a sample pack for the new boxes of cards that he would receive. This was the pack that was displayed with the cards so that customers could see what the cards looked like. Every time I went in there, Jim would make my day. Eventually, I had thousands of baseball cards. Some average, some rare, but all of them fascinating.

And then I experienced tragedy for the first time.

I just remember getting home from school one day, and being greeted by my mother, who had a very solemn look on her face. She took me to the living room and sat down on the couch with me, and she told me the news. Jim had passed away in a car crash on a road near where we lived. I’ve never cried harder. I’ve lost loved ones. I’ve lost pets. I’ve lost championships. But for some reason, I cried harder than I ever have, still to this day.

The reason that I thought to share this story from my life is because of a voicemail that I received the other day. It was a call from an ex-big leaguer who I had called about an event that we were putting on. His name was Jim Beattie.

Baseball has taken me on quite a journey in my life thus far. First I was an innocent little leaguer just playing in the dirt. Then the Seattle Mariners won 116 games in 2001 when my father and I had a 16-game plan. Then I wasn’t given a fair shot by my little league coach when I was only 12 years old. Then I won two state championships during summer baseball in high school. Then I batted .400 in Fall tryouts at my university and got cut. And now I am working for the MLBPAA. It has all taken me to here. The ups and downs have been interesting to say the least, but there is no question in my mind that this is exactly where I am supposed to be. And I would like to believe that maybe that wasn’t an ex-big leaguer, but my old buddy Jim, giving me a call to remind me why I love this game so much.

One Degree of Separation

Boy, have I been busy. Never before have I faced such an organizational challenge as here at the MLBPAA. Things are really vamping up, as we have numerous Alumni Days, Clinics and Golf Tournaments coming up, as well as the Heart and Hustle Award Presentations on the horizon. I am enjoying every moment here, but that is not to say that it has been easy.

It has been just over a month since I started as an intern here at the MLBPAA, and in that short month I have felt myself grow and mature more than I ever have in one month. Now that I have entered the professional world as a college graduate, the stakes for everything that I do are a bit higher. However, that has not intimidated me, rather it has motivated me to see what I am capable of. I know that I still have an immense amount to learn, but thus far I am very pleased with myself for the way that I have handled my workload.

Sandy Koufax retired Chris Krug for the first out of the ninth inning during his perfect game on September 9, 1965.

(AP) Sandy Koufax retired Chris Krug for the first out of the ninth inning during his perfect game on September 9, 1965.

Although I have enjoyed just about everything I have done so far here, there is one assignment that stands out above the others. In our newsletters, we feature stories about former players called “Where Are They Now?” that showcase the post-baseball lives of former big leaguers. Coming up in our summer newsletter will be a feature on Everett “Chris” Krug, the opposing catcher during Sandy Koufax’s legendary perfect game. Krug made a throwing error to third base that resulted in the only run of the game that night, but that was not the biggest impact that Krug had on the game of baseball.

After retiring from the game, Krug started a company called “Athletic Turfs, Inc.” and began building fields and laying turf for local ballparks. Eventually, Krug and his company began working on college fields like Tony Gwynn Stadium at San Diego State University, and then graduated on to big league stadiums such as Angels Stadium of Anaheim, and Dodgers Stadium. However, Krug and Athletic Turfs, Inc.’s crowning achievement was a fictional field. Ever seen Field of Dreams? Yep, Chris Krug built that field.

Being a lifelong baseball fan, it was a surreal and humbling experience to spend thirty minutes on the phone with Chris. He shared stories about working on the field with Kevin Costner, speaking about how the two stars had a mutual respect for each other. He shared a fascinating anecdote about a time when he was watching batting practice with Ernie Banks. Ernie Banks!! To hear somebody casually chat about an immortal legend like Banks was something else.

There was a moment during that conversation when I realized the magnitude of exactly who I was talking to. This was a man who had seen things that I have only dreamed about. A man who has shared hotel rooms with legends that I used to hit home runs with in video games. This was a man who had lived the dream, and who found a way to continue to live that dream for his entire life. And if you ask me, that is about as special as it gets.

Max Carter

Dreams Do Come True

Since I was in a diaper, I have been fascinated by the game of baseball. From the intricacies of the rules, to the personalities of the players, to the energized chatter of 40,000 on a Friday night. As a player and as a fan, I have grown to develop a deep love and appreciation for baseball. I only dreamed that one day I could become more than a fan, and several years ago, as is the case for all but a small handful of lucky individuals, my career as a player came to an end.

The first year of my life without playing the game of baseball was definitely a challenge. No longer did I have hours of my day committed to America’s Pastime, and I had to find different ways to fill that time. It was difficult at first, but eventually I dipped my feet into enough new ponds that I was happily busy once again. That said, the absence of baseball in my life still left a void that could not be filled.

Fast forward to my senior year at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, as I was beginning to look towards the future and potential job prospects. One thing that I knew for sure was that I would not be working at a job that I did not enjoy. Knowing myself, I would never be able to give 100 percent in a situation like that. That said, I also needed to find a job. I had reached out to a few MLB related opportunities, one with the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY and one here, with the MLBPAA. I had sent those applications in sometime in January, and didn’t think much about them after the fact, as I was focused on completing my final semester of college and dealing with all that comes with graduation.

My father and I on the Ambiente Course at Camelback Golf Club in Scottsdale, AZ.

My father and I on the Ambiente Course at Camelback Golf Club in Scottsdale, AZ.

It was March 24, a few days after my 22nd birthday and the final day of a golf vacation that my father and I were on in Arizona. We were getting ready to tee off for the pinnacle of our trip — a round on the Ambiente Course at Camelback Golf Club in Scottsdale — when I received an unexpected email from Nikki here at the MLBPAA. The email informed me that the MLBPAA was interested in interviewing me for an internship, and I quickly replied that I would be elated to.

A couple of interviews later, I learned that I had received the internship, and I can honestly say that was one of the most victorious feelings of my life. It is a dream of most college graduates to apply their degree towards something that they are not only knowledgeable about, but passionate about as well. I am extremely grateful to have been given an opportunity to work in a field that I love so deeply, let alone right out of college. It has all seemed so natural, from the initial phone call, to the road trip to Colorado, to the first full week in the office. Regardless of where I end up come September, I feel that I belong here. I feel that I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now.

Of course, most college grads are just peachy to receive any kind of job or internship offer immediately following college. I would have been. But rather than being in a position where I am just showing up every day to do my job, I now have been given the opportunity to show up every day in a place that gives me energy, and that stokes the embers of my passion for the game of baseball.

I could be making phone calls to Joe Shmoe about his insurance claim. Instead, I am calling Mike Mussina about attending an event as an honored guest. I could be driving across the country to attend a conference full of stiff, boring people in suits talking about things that I hardly understand. Instead, I am helping organize events all over the country and the world, where my childhood heroes are attending to make a difference in their communities. I could be hanging out at home in Woodinville, Washington working on my golf game and trying to find some jobs to pass the time. Instead, I am applying the communication skills that I learned at Whitworth, and the 22 years of baseball knowledge that I have organically compiled, in order to contribute to Major League Baseball, as well as the game of baseball all around the world.

One of my favorite spots in one of my favorite places, Safeco Field.

One of my favorite spots in one of my favorite places, Safeco Field.

If you would have told freshman or sophomore me that this is what I would be doing after graduation, I would have said something like “Yeah, that would sure be a dream come true”. Well, after a lot of hard work, positive thinking and a little help from some friends, here I am. 10 years ago I was a little kid playing in the dirt, hoping that one day, when I would become a big old scary adult and have to enter the big old scary adult world, that baseball would still be prominent in my life somehow. There is something about this sport — the kid’s game — that fuels the inner-child and the dreamer in everybody who’s life is touched in any way by the game of baseball.

All of that said, my work has only just begun. I have so much more to learn and do, and only God knows where I will be in a few months, or in a year, or in five years. But it seems that thus far, I have been guided to this place. Every assignment I receive here gives me a new boost of life, as I get to dip my hand ever further into the industry of the game that has given me so much joy. From a little kid in The Kingdome cheering on Ken Griffey, Jr. with his dad, to a starter on the varsity team in high school, to an intern with the MLBPAA, this is a long journey that is not even close to it’s end. I don’t know what that end will be, but thus far the journey is off to a fantastic start, and I am confident that whatever the future holds, it is going to be awesome.

Max Carter

Embracing Change

My first week in Colorado Springs was lonely because I hadn’t made any friends outside of work, yet. As I lay in my bed on a sunny Friday evening I decided to go out by my apartment complex pool. I saw there were a few people enjoying the beautiful evening as well, but I didn’t want to be the creepy new girl that awkwardly scopes out the area for new friends. Fortunately, it turned out to be a much easier process in meeting people. As I was laying by the pool, little conversations started to arouse among everyone. A guy named Dre asked where I was from. As soon as I replied, “Illinois”, the cute little brunette next to me said, “No way! Me too!”

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My apartment complex.

We started talking about what part of Illinois we were from, where we went to school and how we both ended up in Colorado Springs. Interestingly enough, she was from only 45 minutes away from my hometown. Sometimes it really does feel like such a small world. Both of our outgoing and fun personalities allowed us to automatically connect. She later introduced me to some of her friends and they spent Friday night showing me around downtown Colorado Springs and some of the fun areas. The rest of the weekend included my new group of friends laying by the pool and grilling out. A weekend I thought was going to be lonely ended up being a blast before my first full week of work, which made me extremely happy.

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My new friend, Ally.

I was excited waking up early Monday morning knowing that it was my first full week with the MLBPAA. So far, this week has been full of many different tasks and learning experiences. I learned how to write a press release, post to social media, fill out stat sheets, make phone calls for lapsed memberships, and some different basic intern tasks such as; sorting files, the mail and opening the return letters from different members. Learning different tasks such as these will better prepare me for a job after college.

Unfortunately, even though I love the game of baseball, I do not have much knowledge on the subject of baseball. Sitting in on meetings and trying to follow the conversations on different players can be difficult at times. I would like to be able to provide input and have an opinion on some topics during meetings. In order to do this, I borrowed a few books from Geoff Hixson, the Chief Operating Officer, and Nikki Warner, the Director of Communications of the MLBPAA. These books have information on recent baseball players as well as some of the best baseball players in history.

My plan is to study at least three players a night all summer in order to familiarize myself with different players. I am hoping after a few weeks of studying, my baseball knowledge will help me become an active participant in baseball discussions around the office and in meetings. Although I don’t know much on the subject, I find it motivating to work harder to learn more in order to help make a difference at the MLBPAA. Overall, my first full week in Colorado has been enjoyable both in and out of the office.

 

 

My Adventure to Colorado Springs

My road trip to Colorado Springs with my Dad was a long 14 hours full of little to no scenery. Our drive consisted of traveling through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado. We took mostly back roads and had the opportunity to take in the uneventful scenery of corn and farmlands before entering the beautiful state of Colorado. My Dad and I decided to make the best of it and jam out to country tunes, laugh about old memories and talk about my excitement to work with the Major League Baseball Player Alumni Association (MLBPAA). Unfortunately, after the long road trip, my initial move-in situation was much worse.

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The Lodges of Colorado Springs.

I walked into an apartment that I had agreed to live in after only hearing by word of mouth that it was livable. It ended up being a basement apartment of a dirty, extremely small townhouse. I would have been renting off of a girl that I had nothing in common with, so I decided to move to The Lodges of Colorado Springs instead. The atmosphere of The Lodges is surrounded with college students, outgoing and kind people, beach volleyball tournaments, a pool and a workout facility. I became even more excited to start my internship after feeling comfortable and happy with my living conditions for the rest of the summer.

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My Dad and me at the Seven Falls.

Before my Dad had to make his way back to Illinois, we decided to take an adventure. We enjoyed a nice dinner at The Broadmoor and took their shuttle to the Seven Falls after. We walked the trail together and climbed all of the stairs while stopping to take a picture every few steps. Upon arriving to the top of the stairs we were panting like a couple dogs and our legs were shaking, but it was worth every struggle. The beautiful scenery was nothing like the flat lands we were surrounded with on our way to Colorado. I was always a very sheltered child in Illinois and I had never seen the mountains before, so it was breathtaking. I realized I would love to live in Colorado and was ready to excel during my internship and enjoy the few short months I had in the state.

On my first day at the MLBPAA I was very nervous, but after being introduced to every employee I felt welcomed and more relaxed. Throughout the day I had different meetings and had the chance to hear all of the different jobs every employee performs through the profit and non-profit side of the MLBPAA. I found it very intriguing and it gave me a better understanding of how the company handles its logistics. Not only did I get more insight on the organization, but I also felt I got to know some of the employees better.

This summer I will also be working with another intern, Maxwell Carter, who just graduated college. Maxwell was a Communication Studies major and will also be someone I can learn from this summer through the different tasks we are given. We decided during the first day on the job that we will divide up the work we are given equally and help each other through any confusions we run into. Luckily, it seems we have some different interests and strengths, so we will be able to acquire different skills from each other as well.

The atmosphere of the MLBPAA is extremely open, friendly, and helpful. I am eager to be working with such a great group of people because I think I will be learning from several different role models while having an amazing experience. Being so far away from home can be difficult for me at times, especially because I didn’t know a single person when I first moved in. Starting to work for the MLBPAA with such a kind and open group of people has made me feel more comfortable with being far away from my family. I am a very outgoing individual and I think this step in furthering my career and growing as a person is important for me. It has always been important to me to work in a friendly and fun environment, so I look forward to the rest of the summer with everyone at the MLBPAA.

 

The Road Less Travelled

As I said my goodbyes to my family in Woodinville, Washington on Friday May 27, there was no doubt in my mind that my life was about to change in a way that I had never experienced before. I also knew that my girlfriend Lauren and I would be facing challenges together that would necessitate major growth, both personally and as a couple. That said, nothing could have prepared us for the prologue to this crazy story that we call ‘life’.

I suppose when you begin a road trip four hours later than planned, you are already fighting an uphill battle. To get to Colorado Springs, we took an adventurous route, rather than the quick jolt across I-90. Our journey would take us from Woodinville to Spokane, Washington, then another stop in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho before hitting a nine hour stretch that would take us to Livingston, Montana. The plan was to get in to Livingston around 10 pm on Friday night, as we would depart in the morning for the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Well, that didn’t exactly work out, as we arrived at the hotel sometime after 4 am, only to discover that my card had been charged as a “no-show”, requiring us to pay again in order to get a room. It was certainly not an ideal situation to deal with after spending over 15 hours on the road.

Grand Teton

Stunning view of the jagged Grand Tetons.

That said, we got to bed eventually and woke up the next morning with renewed spirits, ready to see the vast beauty that is Yellowstone. We entered the park around 3 pm, and what started as a rainy, cloudy day slowly morphed into a gorgeous, mostly-sunny day filled with geyser viewing and stunning panoramas of snow-covered mountains. We made many of the classic stops, seeing Mammoth Hot Springs, Old Faithful and stopping for countless breathtaking photo opportunities. We even got up close and personal with a big old bison. Eventually, we exited Yellowstone and entered Grand Teton National Park, as we continued to head south until we hit I-80. After enjoying the raw beauty of two of the world’s most prominent national parks, things went a bit south again (no pun intended). After leaving Jackson Hole following a delicious dinner, Max decided to take an incorrect exit and cost us about an hour of driving time. In addition, Max accidentally put us on Wyoming state highway 189, which winds through the Wind River Range, a mountain highway riddled with deer and big-game crossing signs. Somehow, despite Max’s blunders, we survived.

Finally, at about 1 am, Lauren and I decided to pull over in a lovely little town of 313 people to sleep in our car for an hour or two. Needless to say, sleeping in the driver’s seat of my car at the witching hour in the middle of Wyoming was a new low for both of us. It was an intense, emotional road trip, but after waking from our nap, we managed to roll into Fort Collins at about 7 am on Sunday morning, where my good buddy welcomed us and gave us a bed to rest our weary bones. That was certainly one of those times when I realized just how grateful I am to have great friends, especially here in Colorado. After 30-plus hours of driving, we had finally made it to the home of the Rockies.

I wanted to share this experience because it was an incredible time of growth for both myself and for Lauren. Never before had we been placed together in a confined space like that, let alone in a perilous situation in which we were both exhausted and emotional. The trip certainly tested our collective patience, and it absolutely prepared us for the challenges that we will be facing in the future. In addition, that challenge prepared me with a level of patience and tenacity that I will be able to draw on as I face challenges in the work place.

Old Faithful

Lauren and I, feat. Old Faithful.

Moving out of Washington State has not been a problem for me. I am an adventurous soul, and I prepared myself for leaving my family when I studied in New Zealand last spring for four and a half months. However, what nobody can ever be properly prepared for are the difficulties and numerous tedious details that are required of a “real adult”. I still very much feel that I am what I like to call a “miniature adult”, but I also feel like I have grown and matured in a very tangible way over the last week or two. As I enter this phase of my life that is completely foreign to me, all that I can hope to do is drive straight, and get to where I am going as fast and as safely as possible. I certainly understand that there will be bumps in the road, and I will just have to face them as they come. As long as my wheels don’t fall off when I hit those bumps, I will just keep driving until I reach my destination.

Max Carter

For the final time..

Hey everyone!

It is with deepest sadness that I say my time as an intern for the MLBPAA has come to an end. I feel so blessed to have had this opportunity to intern here. These past few months have taught me so much about myself, as an individual as well as a young professional. Being able to learn from every department has showed me sides of the industry that I didn’t know existed and to say I learned greatly is an understatement. There is so much heart within this organization and the people who make up this organization!

Thank you all for following my journey these past four months. And to those who have an interest in MLBPAA, with everything in me, I recommend seeking out and applying for an internship here. It is such a fantastic organization, and there is no place that can offer you what the MLBPAA can.

And with closing thoughts, here is a photo of how BEAUTIFUL Colorado is right now.FullSizeRender

For the last time, Ciao!

Danielle

Springin’ around the office!

Hola,

Spring is finally arriving in terms of weather, and it’s so beautiful right now. Grass is green, trees are full of color, and it’s beautiful! It’s hard to believe my time here is coming to an end, I feel as if I just wrote my first blog. Time flies when you’re having fun, right? This past weekend, I experienced something I hadn’t done yet: I was a part of an LFY Clinic I traveled with Devon to San Diego to attend the clinic that was held in conjunction with the Padres at Petco Park. It was so rewarding to be able to see first-hand, this event come to life. I knew the aspects that these clinics were made of, but being able to be there was very cool. Special Events is so intriguing to me and I’m thankful I was a part of at least one. The day pretty much went like this: Arrive at stadium, set up the stations on the field, greet the Alumni in attendance, begin the registration process for all the children, begin the clinic and for the next two hours, watch the kids enjoy being taught by these professionals. The Alumni were just as excited as the kids, which was also rewarding to see.

This week thus far, I have been working with Rachel in beginning organization of the Heart and Hustle Award media lists via Cision. I learned a new skill on Cision, which I’m thankful for, because in the Communications world, Cision is a very vital component. There are so many different tools to use on Cision, and learning new ones will definitely help me in my future.

Tata for now!

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New Week, New Opportunities

 

Hey guys,
This past week and a half has been nothing short of another great week in the office! Kaitlyn and I have worked rather hard on securing more member benefits for our Wives’ program. This process has entailed finding companies, reaching out and contacting them and offering the potential to work together as an affiliate with the MLBPAA. Thus far, we have secured eight new benefits, and it has been so exciting. Having conference calls with each company, and then taking the next steps towards adding them to our program has been a great experience, as well as very rewarding to be able to say I was a part of bettering this program. The Communications department is beginning organization and planning of the Heart and Hustle Award which is awarded to one active player per Major League team who demonstrates passion for the game of baseball and embodies the values and traditions of the game. From creating the committees that vote per team, to organizing the distribution of the ballots, there is definitely a great deal of organization and planning that goes into this fabulous award. Although this award is presented throughout the season and requires a great amount of work through that time, being able to assist and be involved in any way possible thus far has been, and will continue to be, something I greatly enjoy learning.

Moving on to hockey, I say this reluctantly and with a heavy heart, but my Kings did not advance to the second round. The Sharks (somehow) beat us and Kaitlyn is thrilled. I, on the other hand, am not. I won’t say much about this because I’m still very bitter, so I’m just going to leave it with: We’ll get them next time.

P.S. It’s April 29th, and it’s still snowing. Just let that sink in.

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Winter Weather, Spring Baseball

Hi all,

Well, the event that I previously wrote about is underway. The Swing With the Legends Golf Classic in Houston, which benefits Tony’s Prostate Cancer Research, has been postponed due to trying weather and will be rescheduled to May. However, I can confidently say that I have learned a lot in the event planning aspect of it. It was great experience to work with Geoff, and I’m very thankful I was able to do so. I achieved a whole new set of organizational skills, and it was very fun to be a part of. The next one is the Swing With the Legends in Belgrade Lakes, Maine which will take place in August. In addition to daily office tasks, I have started reconstruction on the MLBPAA Intern Binder. This is essentially an intern’s best friend in the fact that it provides them references, answers to possible questions, and just basic need-to-know information about the office. I referred to this binder a great deal, especially in the beginning of my internship, just so I could be up-to-date with knowledge on some office functionalities.

Well hockey fans, playoffs have begun. My LA Kings (Go Kings Go) are playing the SJ Sharks for the first round. It’s a rather exciting time for me because Kaitlyn is from Northern California and happens to be a Sharks fan, so there is some friendly office rivalry that is going on. The Kings haven’t had the best start to this series, but I trust in the fact that they can pull through and beat the Sharks, just as they have in the past. I will make sure to let you know what happens in the coming weeks; I think my Kings will be able to pull through this series and on to round two. Stay tuned!!

Ah, weather! We have been blessed (or cursed, in my opinion) with more cold fronts moving into the Springs. I have heard that March and April are considerably the snowiest months of the year. I made it through March, with only one little mishap, and I was hoping for a better, warmer April. So far, we’ve had two snow systems in April, the most recent one producing 8.5 inches of snow where I live. It could have been worse though, some areas of Colorado got up to 20 inches.

Thanks for reading, check back next week!

Danielle

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