Last week, I previewed my new series involving the steps necessary to land a job in baseball, specifically in baseball operations. I highlighted the importance of several steps that are crucial in the process, and now its time to discuss the number one: cultivating sources and connections. Although it isn't impossible, netting your dream job in baseball likely involves the help of several current employees who are familiar with you and your work. Whether you blog, work in media relations or claim some sort of intriguing baseball talent it's important to have recognition from highly regarded folks within the business, or at least ones who can help you achieve your goals in the sport.
When I first started working for the Hudson Valley Renegades last year, my phonebook lacked baseball contacts and my wallet lacked business cards. I wasn't entirely aware of the amount of knowledge I could attain after putting in a seasons worth of work, but at the same time I didn't really know how my work in Hudson Valley would benefit my future, especially if it was primarily limited to media relations. I was working in media relations but was surrounded by scouts and other execs on a daily basis, so i knew that I had to take advantage of that. At the time of my hiring I wasn't completely aware of the amount of exposure I would get from the actual baseball side of things (against the alternative, the minor league business operations).
I didn't end up working with the Renegades for the entire baseball season and instead branched out to the entire New York-Penn League while also spending a majority of my time covering the Eastern League in New Hampshire, but my summer as a whole was successful due to the amount of growth I made within the baseball business. Although my credentials granted me press box and clubhouse access, much of my time at the park spent sitting with my radar gun and notepad behind home plate. With the idea of making contacts in mind, I knew that scouts and other important baseball people were sitting around me, as were players charting pitches.
After becoming comfortable with my surroundings, I began reaching out and acquainting myself with various scouts and baseball writers. I would usually end up asking for a business card or an email address so that I could stay in touch throughout the season. Now, there will always be scouts sitting in the stands and most of them are decent people, but you can't just awkwardly ask for a business card. They might give you their card but unless they know who you are and why you're worth their valuable time they won't bother dealing with you. I remember a long discussion with a scout once turned into a valuable relationship, but only after the scout had interest in my work over at Penn League Report.
As I mentioned, most of these guys are on the road literally every day of the season. If they take a few of the rare free minutes of their day to talk to you on the phone, email you or even read your work online they obviously have interest in helping you reach your goals. However, scouts aren't the only sources you can make while at the park. And not all of your sources are made at the ballpark. If you are either a blogger or someone who writes for some sort of online publication, acquiring a minor league credential (90% of my sources have been made at a minor league park) can be extremely beneficial.
Although they aren't typically connected to organizations, writers (even in the minor leagues) make extremely fine sources. If a writer covers a certain organization for his team-oriented minor league site, he's typically bound to have at least one or two major league executives read his site. Execs are interested in what some bloggers have to say about their prospects, and prospect-junkies obviously spend a lot of time around the ballpark. So whilst sitting in the lonely and quiet press box either before, during or after the game, try to converse with some of the other writers around. They're doing their job and like all of us, need to focus, but feel free to ask them a question or two. Tell them what you're all about and be sure to pick their brain. Don't be annoying but at the same time
, have them know that you're a worthy baseball contact, even if you're young, inexperienced and distant from them in the baseball world.
Scouts don't want to make friends with an empty-handed, lackadaisical kid sitting three-rows back behind the plate. They would rather talk with a professional-looking, motivated aspiring baseball executive at work. Trust me, they know. So if you really are motivated to be someone in this business, show and act it. Sources can obviously be made differently, but I'm writing from experience. Next week we'll discuss how blogging can gear you towards landing a baseball job, and doing so is also a fantastic way to gain contacts. That said, take my advice. If you can, get to the minor league park and net yourself a credential. Don't be afraid to talk to the players, scouts, writers and employees in media relations. If you really want a job in baseball, you can land one. The ball is in your court.