Another question I was asked a lot in the reader survey is what it was like to work for a professional baseball team. I started to respond in yesterday’s post but my answer was so long I figured it would make more sense to write about it separately!
In 2005 I left my job in New York City and moved back to Los Angeles. I had a few offers for jobs at record labels, but I wanted to try something new. I thought about companies I’d like to work for, and started googling their job openings. The Dodgers were starting a new Inside Sales department, so I applied, interviewed, and was hired. It was entry-level (minimum wage + commission) and my previous job had been manager level…but I wanted something different and starting a new line of work meant starting over.
Arriving at work on my first day was so cool. The offices are built into the stadium, a place I’d gone to watch games my entire life. I stood outside the giant “Dodger Stadium” sign and practically had to pinch myself. I couldn’t believe I worked there. That feeling never really went away.
My first several months were in the Inside Sales department, which was a real hustle. We basically made cold calls all day, then walked the stadium during evening games looking to make contacts and sales. I made 100 calls a day and near the end of the season, I was promoted to full-time (salaried, better commission) sales executive. That’s when all the real perks kicked in.
We got everything you would expect – merchandise discounts, free food (somehow, I am not sick of Dodger Dogs), and four tickets to every game. If the team made it to the playoffs, we got two tickets to the games, plus access to buy more. We got to use the team’s gym and we could run laps around the field on the warning track. We also had fun parties where we’d picnic or play softball on the field. My coworkers and I always took advantage of that by sitting in the dugouts and sliding on the grass (they never let us stand on the mound, EVER).
Because we were employees, we had access to stuff that “outsiders” didn’t. One year we were all gifted a set of Dodger Stadium chairs that were selling for $250. One of my coworkers didn’t want his, so he gave them to me! Another one of my coworkers got married at home plate, with their reception in the exclusive Dugout Club. Mike and I had our engagement photos taken at the stadium on a day when the team was out of town (photos by Next Exit Photography).
And yes, we met lots of players. The rookies often walked through the offices to say hi to the front office staff. Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw came up when I was with the team and they both walked through to meet all of us. When we had a big signing, the new player would usually tour the offices with the traveling secretary. Nomar Garciaparra was so excited to be in his hometown of Los Angeles that he shook every single hand in the front office. The coaching staff came through often. I met Joe Torre and Don Mattingly (when he was a coach) several times, which was a real thrill. It was a huge morale boost when anyone from the team came into our offices.
But nothing made my heart race like meeting the old-timers that I (and my parents) had grown up watching. Don Newcombe, Sweet Lou Johnson, Ron Cey, Fernando Valenzuela, even Sandy Koufax, would come to the stadium and visit with us. Some of them would even pull up a chair in our office suite and tell story after story. The legend Tommy Lasorda became a real friend, even visiting Maddie in the NICU.
If the team was in town, we would work 13-hour days multiple days in a row. It was still 13 hours at a baseball stadium so it wasn’t anything to complain about, but the longer hours were difficult once I had Maddie at home. I will always be so incredibly thankful for how amazing everyone was when I was on bed rest and Maddie was in the hospital. HR always insisted I take care of my family and not worry about work at all.
I was laid off when the team majorly overhauled the sales department. I had a feeling it was coming so I was prepared but disappointed. Looking back, however, it was very fortuitous timing, as it allowed me to be at home for Maddie’s last six months of life.
I miss working there at the beginning of the season and the end, especially when the team is in the playoffs like they are this year. I have several friends who still work in the front office so I feel connected to the team through them (and as a fan, too). I’m so glad I cold-applied for a job with the Dodgers, as working there was one of the best experiences of my life.