By Scott Langdon
Canadian Baseball Network
A passion for the game of baseball is essential to work in the industry says Ellen Harrigan, Director Baseball Administration, Los Angeles Dodgers.
Harrigan, a native of the Toronto area, began her career with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1981 as an administrative aide in player development, a position she held for eight years. Harrigan was one of fewer than 10 women who have reached the level of director in baseball operations in the major leagues when she was promoted to her current role in 2008. And she took time to offer sage advice for people seeking a career in baseball.
“Experience working in any sports or sports-related field is a definite asset, whether it’s time spent working with your college sports office or team, recreational sport or time as a member of any team sport,” Harrigan said. “Prepare yourself, learn as much as you can about the area of sport that you want to enter. If it’s baseball operations, read the basic agreement and the rules and regulations. Learn about statistics and analytics. But there is so much more than baseball operations.
Harrigan suggests people stick with their strengths:
“If you’re good with marketing, then study sports markets. If mathematics is your thing, then look at a finance or analytics department for an opportunity. Sports medicine is another huge area of growth for sports teams,” Harrigan said. “Identify what you are good at and look to your sports team to see where you fit and can make a career. Don’t stop learning once you get your foot in the door. Ask good questions, identify a mentor, work harder than the next guy. Be first in and last out. But, most of all, enjoy what you’re doing.”
Harrigan was asked is she could imagine the career she has when she started with the Blue Jays as an 18-year-old administrative assistant in the baseball operations department.
“As an eighteen-year-old kid I never imagined spending my career in with three major league teams and one minor league team. It has been an incredible journey and I’m enjoying it as much today as I did way back then. Every season is anticipated with excitement and hope, believing this is the year that will bring us to the World Series,” Harrigan explained.
Based on the advice of Harrigan and others working in the baseball industry, here are some places to look if you are interested in a career in baseball.
Online employment opportunities
Harrigan recommends the www.teamworkonline.com site. “This is where we post all of our job opportunities. Other sports post there, too. It should be a daily search if you are looking for a job in sports,” she said.
The Professional Baseball Employment Opportunities (PBEO) Job Fair is the official employment service of Minor League Baseball, the governing body of the minor leagues. It was launched in 1994 as part of minor league baseball’s efforts to provide a year-round placement service to member clubs and Major League Baseball. About 500 jobs ranging from internships to community relations, merchandising, stadium operations, finance-related positions and others are typically available each year. It is staged in conjunction with baseball’s annual winter meetings.
Job-seekers pay their travel and accommodation expenses to attend as well as a $50 registration fee according to www.pbeo.com. The 2018 Baseball Winter Meetings and PBEO Job Fair will be held Dec 9-13 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.
A lesser-known job fair is held each year in conjunction with the Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar, a three-day event in the fall. Hundreds of executives from various levels omeet at the seminar to discuss a variety of subjects including marketing, sales, public relations, stadium operations and others.
“There is a small job fair in conjunction with the Seminar,” explained Jessica Lack, Manager of Partnerships and Community Activation, George M. Steinbrenner Field and the Tampa Tarpons, Florida State League. A Calgary, Alta. native, Lack started her baseball career as an intern with the team while studying Sports Management at the University of Tampa.
“This is a smaller scale than the PBEO job fair, fewer people and more 1-on-1 time. Job seekers actually have an opportunity to introduce themselves during discussions and provide their solutions or ideas for a problem or opportunity being discussed,” she said.
The 2018 MiLB Promotional Seminar will be held Sept. 25-27, Des Moines IA, home of the Iowa Cubs of the AAA Pacific Coast League.
Not everyone finds a job in baseball at a Job Fair or online. Other people, such as Frederick Rioux, a baseball operations intern with the Seattle Mariners at their training complex in Peoria, AZ, took a more direct route.
He emailed more than 150 resumes to “everybody I could think of in baseball” during the fall, 2017. The campaign resulted in interviews with the Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla.
“The Mariners gave me a telephone interview, followed up by a questionnaire. Some time passed and then I had another telephone interview. Then Jan. 13, 2018 was one of the best days of my life when they offered me my current position,” said the 27-year-old native of Trois-Pistoles, Que.
An annual internship opportunity is also offered by The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Steele Internship Program, Cooperstown, NY. The Hall offers 10-week internships for to up to 25 college or university students each year. It is “highly” competitive” with up to 500 applicants some years. Contact the Hall for more information: www.baseballhall.org or 1-888-HALL-OF-FAME/607-547-7200.
Harrigan has a sign off in her emails, a quotation from Hall of Fame general manager Pat Gillick, that offers one final piece of thoughtful advice:
“Baseball is about talent, hard work and strategy. But at the deepest level, it’s about love, integrity and respect.”