Thoughts on Missing Working in Baseball

Orioles friends from our reunion a few years ago.

It’s a question I get asked a lot.

“Do you miss working in baseball?”

Students ask me this often; then they ask what it was like to work in baseball, in sports, for a Major League baseball team.

I have often blogged about how working in baseball changed my life in so many ways. I became a serious student when I got my job with the Orioles as a sophomore in college. I learned how to budget my time and work long hours. I loved every minute of it. I even roped my best friend and college roommate into working there during my second year when I supervised a small staff and someone quit before Opening Day. She was supposed to be a fill-in and ended up staying the entire season…and then some. I grew up there and stayed for 13 total seasons. My best friends are from there. I met my husband there. I learned valuable skills that I now teach my students. I learned about the game, its history, and its pomp and circumstance—all of which I treasure.

Then I wrote a fictional novel about working in baseball entitled Baseball Girl, summoning my recollections and stories about working in the game.

On Friday night, I had the wonderful opportunity to spend time with my mentor and dear friend, Dr. Charles Steinberg, in Boston. Our students and faculty were in town for a communication convention, and Charles, who now works for the Red Sox and Pawtucket Paw Sox, took us out to dinner. It’s funny how things come around full circle—I learned so much of what I know from Charles and Julie Wagner, and both are still my dear friends and mentors. Both Charles and Julie also wrote a case study for a textbook my colleagues and I wrote about event planning. Sitting at that table with Charles made me realize a couple of things: (1) how thankful I am that I had the job I had for all those years and that it helps me in my current job today, and (2) that strong friendships sustain themselves even when you don’t see each other as often as you would like.

Charles and me from Saturday night in Boston at Pico Niccolo.

Today is Opening Day, and I will not be there at Camden Yards to celebrate its 25th season at the ballpark. I have to teach my classes.

I was there on Opening Day 1992 when Camden Yards took center stage, and I helped coordinate the opening ceremonies. I value all of my time there—first as assistant director of community relations and then as director of publishing. For fun, and at Charles’s request, I even spent time as the ballpark deejay for a while, spinning tunes and getting the crowd fired up.

So the question remains: “Do you miss working in baseball?”

On days like today, with a fresh season upon us, a new team, and a clean slate with 162 games to go and a chance to win a World Series ring as a member of the front office, the answer is simply…

Yes.

Sometimes I do.

Good friends…

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of the newly releasedInn SignificantBaseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree.  Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.  To visit Stephanie’s Amazon Author page and see her books, click here.

Back at Camden Yards, Pangs of Nostalgia and Thankfulness

Camden Yards*

This morning I took a ride to Camden Yards. It was surreal—like going back in time to the commute I did for many years from 1992 through 1998 when I was a full-time employee of the ballclub. (Prior to that, beginning in 1985, I commuted to old Memorial Stadium). I had to pick up something from our friend Mark at the Orioles offices for my son’s birthday. On my drive in, as I am often capable of doing, I became nostalgic remembering old times. I also got to thinking about how that job of working for the Orioles completely transformed my life. And I don’t write that lightly. It seriously did transform my life as I’ve written about several times before here on the blog.

What it also did was to inform my current job—that of professor of business communication at Stevenson University. Being able to talk about my experiences working in several different departments, including public relations, community relations, publishing, and Orioles productions gave me such a foundation of knowledge, that today, when I am in the classroom, I still use work experiences to illustrate points we learn in the textbooks we read. That added working knowledge I bring to the table helps me be a better teacher. Additionally, since I love to tell stories, it also gives me a lot of fodder; and trust me, I don’t hold back. Sharing the good experiences along with the bad helps my students understand concepts and theories they are studying. And finally, that job working in baseball also helped inform my writing of Baseball Girl, the fictional novel I published last year about life working in professional baseball, which of course, was loosely based on my own life and experiences working in the sport.

My year working for The Baltimore Sun was not an easy one, but I certainly learned a lot from it. The two years following that when I owned and operated my own consulting business taught me even more about responsibility and ownership and making the client happy. And many of those clients I worked with because I had connections to them from my days at the Orioles.

I don’t know if it’s because there’s been a lot of turmoil in the world and country lately or because I see a lot of vitriolic hate and vehement opinions on world and political events on Facebook (of which I will take no part in; you will never see me talk politics either here on the blog or on my Facebook page, because, truthfully, no one wants my opinion, and likewise, I don’t care to hear anyone else’s either), but I woke up feeling nothing but thankful this morning. I’ve been very fortunate in my life. I’ve worked hard to make a difference in each career in which I’ve had the opportunity to engage. My work experiences have helped inform my teaching, and I’ll forever be grateful for those teachable moments that help me provide my own teachable moments to our wonderful students.

And that’s today’s bit of Monday Morning Nostalgia, brought to you by a sentimental, sappy fool. 🙂

xx |

signatureStephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice.

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Writing the Follow-Up to “Beneath the Mimosa Tree”

Photo Credit: Jennifer Jeffrey

Last weekend when I was in Miami and “Beneath the Mimosa Tree” won a bronze for contemporary romance fiction in the Readers Favorite contest, I was in a bit of shock. I couldn’t believe it. Contemporary Romance. Bronze Medal. It was my first book, but it was a long, long time in the making. I felt a little bit like Jeannette Walls when she admitted she wrote the first draft of “The Glass Castle” twenty years ago. The same holds true for me. I drafted “Beneath the Mimosa Tree” as a short story prior to it becoming a novel. However, all I kept thinking to myself was: I’ve got a lot of work to do when I get home.

I’m working diligently on the follow-up to “Beneath the Mimosa Tree.” I’ve been cooking on it during National Novel Writing month. The novel is about a girl who works in baseball.

No, she’s not me.

Yes, she’s pieces of my friends and me, of those of us women who also worked in baseball.

But no, it’s not my story.

However, it will have “things” in it that I experienced in that world of sports and players and publicity.

Anyway, back to the notion of contemporary romance: This book keeps leaning in the same direction as “Beneath the Mimosa Tree.” It appears I cannot get away from stories of love, loss, and growth. Therefore, the new novel is progressing along those lines.

I am writing a tough part right now—developing a character who is simultaneously likeable and unlikeable. We draw inspiration from those we know or have known in our lifetimes when we write characters. We can’t help it. Good writers write what they KNOW, and so I’m in the mad throws of developing this particular character. He is not an easy one to draw.

There will be challenges with this novel that I did not face with “Beneath the Mimosa Tree.” My main character has a lot of depth—and issues. She is gullible and guarded. She is optimistic, yet full of fear. She makes poignant observations yet cannot see what’s before her.

I’m looking forward to some time between semesters to do a little more writing on this thing—this follow up to my first novel—and we shall see how it develops.

Only a hopeless romantic really knows…where it will go.