An opportunity presented itself in November 2004. My current boss had accepted a position at a start up baseball team in Arizona. The whole league was a brand new league. I had never been to Arizona and was just told it was hot during the summer, or what people down in Arizona call it, a dry heat.
I went back and forth on the decision. I remember my mother telling me that there were plenty of snakes out there to scare me back here. (I have a HUGE fear of snakes, I will leave it at that.) So after going back and forth, I went for it. So the packing began!
I did not visit Arizona before I moved out there (highly do not recommend that), but I was trusting God was leading me out there for a reason. It was an interesting trip out there. I left on a cold January morning from my parents house and began the drive. I stayed at a lovely Days Inn right off the highway in Oklahoma City. The next stop was Albuquerque, NM where I stayed with a college roommate whom had just moved there a week prior to me. Then, made the final leg of the journey to a town called Surprise, just outside of Phoenix.
We were temporarily based at the stadium where we would play the games. This stadium could seat about double what we could at River City. Games were going to be starting in under 6 months so we were working a LOT of hours to get this team going. We knew going into it that we were not going to be able to sell out every game and our goals were going to have to be different that what our goals were in St. Louis.
The first set of games were great. Decent crowds and a lot of excitement around the team. The team was not great and did not have a lot of chemistry; however, we had some things to build on from a promotional standpoint. Then, the beginning of the end started to happen.
First, they let go our Director of Public Relations because we were not gaining in attendance in 110 degree heat. Our name was out there; however, people wanted to stay inside and understandably so. That happened on a Thursday night, right before our biggest series of the year with Rickey Henderson coming to town. Then, it all collapsed. They fired my bosses the day the series was supposed to start and several other people quit following this. So here I am facing a major life dilemma: Do I quit as well and support my bosses who were also good friends, or do I have stand on my own for the first time in my after school experience? I never felt like I stood alone when it came to my jobs after college. The Rascals job came from my internship I had with them the year before and a job was created for me after college. We all had been good friends and it did not feel like a “normal” job. So after going back and forth, I told the league I would be staying on board.
We finished out the season not well at all. If we had more than on average 75 people watch our games, I would be shocked. We would sell tickets and do group outings; however, it was so hot, people would not pick their tickets up. The most entertaining parts of games was when we would announce the attendance. We had to announce sold tickets and not actual bodies in the ballpark. After the season, the league waited a few months with our team in Surprise, but they ended up folding the team. It was not shocking at all. The league was starting to already make drastic decisions to the years of research in some towns. They wanted me to join a new team in Reno, NV and an existing team in Fullerton, CA, but I wanted out of baseball. That year had wore me down. So I got out of baseball and was going to try and figure out what to do with my life 1500 miles from where I grew up.
I still wonder at times if I regret making the decision I did by staying on with the team. I am thankful I spent the rest of the summer with the team. Not because I was enjoying what I was doing; however, I proved to myself and others that I could do this whole working thing on my own. It was a challenge placed in front of me and it was the beginning of me growing up.
Next job: So, two days gets me two weeks.