Winter Meetings Recap (Blogs from the Boss)

~Mark Seaman, General Manager

Our Assistant GM, Charlie Downs, and I recently returned from the baseball winter meetings in Indianapolis.  (For what it’s worth I think Indianapolis is a nice city to visit, however I would recommend doing it in the summer).  The winter meetings is an annual event where all of the major league and minor league teams meet for 3 to 4 days to contact all kinds of business. It was a busy 3 days.  People often ask us what we do at the meetings and what goes on while we are there.  I can assure you our experience there is nothing like what you see Peter Gammons reporting about on ESPN.  While you may find the truth boring, I thought I would recap our visit to Indianapolis.

Sunday 12/6
5:25 pm – Flew out of Charlotte
7:10 pm – Landed in Indianapolis and went to our hotel.
8:00 pm – Met up with friends from other teams for dinner.  (To me the best part of the winter meetings is seeing people we have either worked with or met during our time in baseball and spend some time catching up.)

Monday 12/7
7:00 am – Woke up to snow on the ground and 40 mph winds.  This is definitely not Las Vegas (The winter meetings were held in Vegas last year)
8:00 am – We left the hotel for the convention center.  We spent the day attending the Bob Freitas seminar and interviewing potential future Crawdads employees. 
The Freitas seminar is put on by Minor League Baseball (MiLB).  The purpose is to give teams ideas they can use at their respective ballparks to increase the fan experience.  Topics covered include sales & marketing, retail operations, community relations and everything in between.  The speakers typically consist of current minor league team employees.  We always pick up some useful ideas that we are able to implement here in Hickory.  But we are not going to tell you now what gems we found this year, you will have to come to the ballpark in 2010 to find out for yourself!  Between the seminars and the interviews, we spoke with over 20 potential candidates today alone, made for a long day. 

Side note – A division of MiLB, Professional Baseball Employment Opportunities (PBEO) runs the job fair which attracts an excess of 500 job seekers annually.  Mostly young adults right out of college looking to get their start in baseball.  The process works as follows:  Teams post the jobs they have available, job seekers turn in resumes for jobs they are interested in to the PBEO, then the PBEO distributes the resumes to the appropriate team and then the teams decide who they would like to interview.  It is an extremely hectic and nerve-racking 3 days for all parties involved.

8:00 pm – The teams that are owned by Mr. Beaver, Charlotte Knights, New Orleans Zephyrs and the ‘Dads had dinner together and spent time sharing ideas between the teams.

Tuesday 12/8
8:00 am –   We left the hotel for the convention center.  We once again spent the day interviewing potential future Crawdads employees, we conducted in the neighborhood of another 25 or so interviews today.
10:00 am – South Atlantic League GMs meeting.  This is an opportunity for the GMs in the league to get together and discuss numerous league items.  Here are a few items that were on our agenda; pregame timeline for BP and Infield, 2010 All-Star game update (which will be in Greenville), update on the SAL virtual office, presentations for multiple vendors, discussion on the SAL hall of fame.

When we were not interviewing or attending the league meeting we spend time in the trade show.  The trade show is an area where vendors that are trying to sell products to the teams set up.  The vendors represent a wide range of companies.  Anything from stadium equipment, uniforms, entertainment acts, giveaway items, retail items, mascot suits, concessions items fireworks shows and more can be purchased at the trade show.

6:00 pm – We attended the Texas Rangers affiliate reception which they host for all the minor league teams in their farm system.  We had the opportunity to speak with Rangers President Nolan Ryan, GM Jon Daniels, Director of Player Development Scott Servais and a number of other individuals throughout the Rangers front office as well as staff members from the other affiliates.    The Rangers have great people throughout their organization; we enjoyed working with them last year and look forward to the interaction again in 2010.  

Wednesday 12/9
8:00 am – We left the hotel for the convention center.  We spent the day interviewing potential future Crawdads employees and attending the trade show.  (The days start to resemble the movie Ground Hog day, one day just like the next.)
10:00 am – South Atlantic League Owners and Directors meeting.  This is an opportunity for the Owners and Directors in the league to get together and discuss numerous league items.  For example, here are a few items that were on the agenda; BAM/BIRCO update, League president’s report, Trustees report, Committee reports, which there are 7 different committees, discussion of changes to the constitution and bylaws, and about 6-7 other things.
7:00 pm – Gala hosted by MiLB at Lucas Oil Stadium (home of the Colts).  This was a fun event.  They fed us plenty of great food, had a band playing and gave us tours throughout the stadium.  It was a great way to wind down after a long 3 days.

Thursday 12/10
7:45 am – Left the hotel for the airport
10:10 am – Landed in Charlotte
12:00 pm – Back at the ballpark writing this Blog (This is now now, a little space balls reference)

And that concludes our tour from the Hickory Crawdads perspective of the 2009 baseball winter meetings.

We look forward to seeing everyone tomorrow at the Crawdads Christmas Party from 11am – 1pm.  This is a great opportunity to pick up some Crawdads gear to put under the tree or a ticket book as a stocking stuffer, it’s the gift that will give all summer long!

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