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Working from Home journals: Making adjustments

Baseball is a game of adjustments. These days, there are a lot of adjustments to be made. Instead of preparing for an imminent Opening Night, many Minor League Baseball team employees are now working from home. They’re staying indoors, washing their hands and, to the extent possible, going about business as

Baseball is a game of adjustments. These days, there are a lot of adjustments to be made. 
Instead of preparing for an imminent Opening Night, many Minor League Baseball team employees are now working from home. They’re staying indoors, washing their hands and, to the extent possible, going about business as usual during these very unusual times. In this, the first installment of the “Working From Home” journals, seven individuals from the world of Minor League Baseball fill us in on what they’ve been up to.  

Jamie Toole
General Manager, Jupiter Hammerheads
22nd year in MiLB (third with the Hammerheads)

I serve as the general manager for the Jupiter Hammerheads in the Florida State League. Our facility, Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, also hosts Major League Spring Training for the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals. With Major League Spring Training suspended and our Hammerheads’ season delayed, our staff has been working remotely.
Our staff stays connected via twice-a-week conference calls, departmental video calls, traditional calls and email. We have found the additional time on our hands to be rewarding, in that we are able to tackle more long-term strategic planning projects. These projects include an overhaul of our corporate partnership inventory and pricing structure, as well as detailed research of all other MiLB clubs. We have assigned each member of our revenue generation department a MiLB league to research. Their mission is to research the individual clubs within their assigned league for best practice information. We are interested in learning what teams are doing with their ticket package plans, what they offer from a sponsorship or corporate partnership prospective, their promotional activities, their social media engagement and various other aspects of their operation. We cannot send the entire staff to the annual Minor League Baseball Innovators Summit [formerly called the Promotional Seminar], so in a way we are bringing the Innovators Summit to us.
As we join businesses around the country in navigating this unprecedented time, we are focusing on staying positive and making our operation better. Baseball’s return will be more meaningful than ever in 2020 and we are excited to host fans at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium just as soon as it is safe to do so. Go Hammerheads!  

Steven Elovich
VP of Corporate Partnerships for the Salem Red Sox
13th year in MiLB (all with the Salem Red Sox)

For the first time in 13 years I find myself being stressed about Opening Day for an unfamiliar reason. I used to just be anxious about the start of the season. Then I took over tickets and the pressures that come with readying season tickets and opening a box office for the first game. Now that I’m settled into my corporate role I don’t usually worry about Opening Day, but this year that’s changed with the uncertainty of when Opening Day will come.
Right now, instead of being at work in the mornings, I am pouring chocolate milk into a sippy cup and watching Blippi videos. Working at home with my wife and our 3-year-old is certainly a change I’ve had to adapt to. For the foreseeable future my wife and I will be working from home and have divided our day (8 a.m. – 5 p.m.) into dedicated work blocks where one of us works and the other watches our son. The one “working” has it considerably easier and we now know why childcare is so expensive.  
My biggest challenge so far has been reigning myself in and making myself focus when it’s my time to work.  All-in-all things are going well and clients and fans are being extremely patient and understanding.  But the best thing to come from all of this? We’ve had plenty of time for backyard tee-ball every day; so, I’m still getting my share of baseball.
Emily Wydo
Manager of Marketing and Promotions, Salem Red Sox
Rookie season in MiLB (spent 2019 working for the Minnesota Twins)  

Three months ago I picked up my life in Minnesota, chasing a dream, and moved to Salem, Virginia for my first full-time role in baseball. I never would have guessed, only two weeks away from our Opening Day, that I would be sitting at my kitchen table working from home.
I got my start in baseball last season, with the Minnesota Twins, and it’s fair to say I had the time of my life. I fell in love with baseball more than ever before, and now have the long-term goal to be the President of my home-town team. Moving across the country to further my career in baseball was a no-brainer, but this? This was definitely not in my plans.
I wake up, make a cup of coffee, take my vitamins, drink an Emergen-C, sit down and eventually focus my efforts and attention to our social media. I’ve had to stifle my creativity in some ways, but the silver lining is now I have time to use it elsewhere. Right now, I am sad that baseball will have to wait, but when I look back on this time, I know I’ll be thankful for the change in routine and the new skills I’ve gained as a result.
I chose to pursue a career in sports, specifically in baseball, because I love the fans. And if right now social media is how I can entertain and bring hope to others, then so be it. I may be unable to plan my game days and I may be unable to produce a show in a ballpark, but my motto is still the same: Leave everything and everyone I touch better than when I found them. 
We’ve all been asked to pivot and change our strategy but the core of who we are as baseball people remains the same. For now, I’ll hold on to that. Hang in there, folks, and wash yer hands.  
Nate Kurant
Director of Promotions, Charleston RiverDogs
9th year in MiLB, heading into fifth season in Charleston

My routine has remained similar, but the work attire has been more casual. We’ve had many virtual meetings with our team, and we’ve done a good job of working together while apart. Also, my wife and I have enjoyed spending so much time together (although we continue to interrupt our dog’s eight-hour daily nap).
For the creatives across MiLB, this is a really exciting challenge. There are no ‘best practices’ and there is no ‘standard.’ We are identifying, deciding and executing as best we can while remaining flexible to the ever-changing scenarios. There’s no book on something like this, though I’m sure there will be after this is all done. This will be a class in every sports marketing program from now on.
I’ve talked to many teams who are working on at least three different calendars. Creating one is hard enough; creating multiples in March is unprecedented. However, most everyone I’ve talked to is taking it in stride, which tends to be the way this role handles most things. Very rarely do things go exactly to plan, so we thrive adjusting on the fly to make things work.
As we all navigate through this together, every sponsor and performer has been incredible to work with. Our departments internally are communicating non-stop to attempt to rebuild the promo calendar and fit everything in. We will be creative in entirely new ways this season, which will force us to try new ideas and concepts. The smart teams will use this season to learn and grow. It’s a really exciting time to be in baseball.

Sarah Kendall
Marketing, Community Relations and Promotions intern for the Fort Wayne TinCaps
Years working in MiLB: 1.5 (two months with the TinCaps)

So I’m in an interesting situation with everything going on. I started with the TinCaps on February 3, 2020 and was just over a month into this role when it was announced that our season was on hold. It’s a little difficult to have structure, as my role involves being out in the community and preparing for games.

Nonetheless, I observe our 9-5 normal office hours. On Mondays and Thursdays, our marketing department does a group conference call. When there are times where I don’t quite know what to do project-wise, I’ve started expanding my knowledge when it comes to Adobe products, and I am also taking some free online classes to improve other skills that would be helpful professionally. Some of the classes include “Math Behind Moneyball,” “The Science of Well Being” and “Sport and Society.” This was a suggestion from our team president, to work on self-improvement both professionally and personally. My favorite thing I’ve gotten to do so far is making over 110 phone jersey wallpapers for Wallpaper Wednesday, since design work doesn’t technically fall in my line of work. Honestly, it’s been hard staying home. I miss seeing a baseball field every day. But I know this is for the best. I just keep looking forward to our upcoming season, remembering this quote from Field of Dreams: “This game is a part of our past. It reminds us all that once was good, and that could be again.”
Sam Levitt
Broadcaster, Amarillo Sod Poodles
Years working in MiLB: 3 (and another 3 in independent baseball) 
Years with the Sod Poodles: 1

If you know me, you know that I’m not a “stay at home” person … especially during baseball season. During this time of year, I’m usually in one of three places: the ballpark, a hotel or a coffee shop. So, being in my apartment for most of the day is quite a different experience for me! Plus, I notoriously don’t have much furniture in my apartment…so I’m doing a lot of sitting in my living room beach chair! I’m trying to stay positive during these challenging times and keep the same mindset I usually have: Work hard, have fun, and be grateful. 
For the last week or so, I’ve been working a lot on our live “Sodcast” shows for the Sod Poodles’ Facebook and Twitter accounts. Our goal with this show is to provide some entertainment to our wonderful fans and talk some baseball, trying our best to provide a sense of normalcy and a little distraction to the news. Shout out to our video production director Joe Corbisiero, who’s done a ton of work lately on helping us produce some high-quality content. We’re working on a number of different content ideas for the team’s social platforms. 

From a personal standpoint, I’m focusing on getting into a better routine with my day-to-day schedule while being in my apartment: Getting up earlier, making sure I meditate, doing some exercise and learning. I’m going to be spending some time on personal projects that have been in my head for years, while also trying to learn something new from a documentary or TV show that I’ve never seen before (whether it be sports related or not). 
Stay safe, everybody. We’re all in this together. 

Casey Sawyer
Marketing Manager, Hillsboro Hops
Eight years in Minor League Baseball (all with Hillsboro)

Christian Slater voice: “So, you’re working from home after a worldwide pandemic has struck. You’re probably filled with many questions. Well, here at home, we have all the answers you could need.”
Hey all! That was an Office reference from when Sabre took over Dunder-Mifflin. I hope that you caught that, and I don’t look like an idiot. The days are blending together and I thought this would be a good way to start my entry. Nice.
I have been full-time in the Hops’ Marketing Manager role for almost two years, and was the team’s Clubhouse Manager before that.
We began having the ability to work from home on Monday, March 16. The first few days were a little bit of an adjustment. Knowing what programs I had on my desktop at home vs. the office, and realizing that this was going to be harder than it sounds. One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give is to keep your day structured as similar as you can to a normal in-office day. Wake up at the same time, begin working at the same time, take lunch around the same time etc. If you don’t have structure, it is really tough to remain productive and do what you need to do.
As most teams have done, we use video conferences multiple times a week to maintain some semblance of regularity. I’ve found myself talking out loud to hear my concepts and see how they sound outside of my head. Normally, I would walk over and talk to my coworkers.
We are going to get through this. We’re in this industry because we are strong, brave and dedicated to providing our communities, fans, players and staff the best possible experience we can..

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben’s Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.

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