Yanks' Jessica doesn't Lack management skills

 Jessica Lack (Calgary, Alta.) manager of partnerships and community activation for George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Photos: Mark LoMoglio.

Jessica Lack (Calgary, Alta.) manager of partnerships and community activation for George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Photos: Mark LoMoglio.

Lack works for the Yankees but wanted to own them

 

By Scott Langdon
Canadian Baseball Network

Eight-year-old Jessica Lack told her father she would own the New York Yankees some day.

Today she has an important role with the Yankees and the Steinbrenner family in the minor leagues.

Lack, 32, (Calgary, Alta.) was attending a Yankees game with her father when she made her bold commitment to buy the team.  Her father laughingly predicted she would have to marry a member of the Steinbrenner family, who own the team. She didn’t marry a Steinbrenner, but she does work with family members in her role with the Tampa Tarpons, single A affiliate of the Yankees in the Florida State League. 

Recently promoted to manager of partnerships and community activation for George M. Steinbrenner Field, home of the Tarpons and spring home of the New York Yankees, Lack started her career as an intern with the team while studying Sports Management at the University of Tampa. 

“I interned during spring training in 2009 because volunteering hours were needed to earn course credits. I was an usher and spun the prize wheel during games,” she recalled. “I was able to work it into a couple of days a week doing tasks in the office.”

She started full-time with the team in 2010, responsible for its website and social media program. It was a difficult beginning.

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“I really didn’t know much about web design or software but I taught myself. It was rough. Eventually, the Yankees paid for courses at Hillsborough Community College and it became easier,” she said.

She works closely with sponsors in her current role, making sure the team meets its contractual commitments, and has launched programs to connect the team with the community.

“Our players, whether with the Tarpons, the Gulf Coast League Yankees or major league players here for rehab, can have a significant impact on kids in our community. I worked with the players and management to increase our activity. It has resulted in a new policy that every Yankees player in the minor leagues will contribute four hours of community service each season,” she said.

She tells a story about an autistic child to illustrate the impact of the program.

“We were at a school for autistic children with a group of our players. One of the children had quit playing ball because his condition made him feel left out. But after playing catch with one of our players for 20 minutes he declared to his mom that he wanted to play again,” she said. 

“It just shows the impact our players can have in the community, especially with children. It helps our players remember not to take things for granted and underscores the importance of giving back,” she added.

Lack is also a member of the board of the Yankees Tampa Foundation, Inc., a community initiative of the Steinbrenner family. Jennifer Swindal, daughter of family patriarch George Steinbrenner, is chairperson. The Foundation exists to “promote and sustain a cordial, cooperative relationship between the New York Yankees and its neighbours and to work together to enhance life throughout the surrounding community.”

“The Foundation provides financial resources for athletic, recreational and educational programs for young people. It is a way for the Steinbrenner family and the team to support the community. The family does a lot for underprivileged children,” she explained.

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Lack has also recently instituted a community service training program for Tarpons’ game-day staff.

“We found some things over the years that we could do better. So, I have created the training program and a community service manual to help our staff provide the best customer experience possible,” she explained.

As a child growing up in Calgary, she focused on jazz, tap and ballet dancing. She admits hockey is her favorite sport but loves baseball. Why wouldn’t she? It provides a wonderful career and she met husband Jeremy Ventura when both were Tarpon’s interns. Ventura is now the team’s assistant general manager.

Lack admits her job and the nature of pro ball can have its challenges such as long hours, especially during the Florida State League season. But “I love it,” she says, and would recommend a career in baseball to others.

“There is just something about working at a baseball stadium. I love the atmosphere.”

It’s almost as good as owning the team.
 

Scott Langdon

Scott is retired and does some freelance writing to keep his mind sharp, with moderate success.

He learned a lot about baseball in west end Toronto when he played for legendary amateur coach, Bob Smyth, known as the mentor of Reds’ star Joey Votto. Smyth taught Scott the intricacies of the sport when, during a Midget game, he strolled half way to home from the third base coach’s box , pointed at the ground and yelled, “Bunt it here.” This might have been the same game when Smyth sent him home for showing up at the park in blue jeans shorts and no shoes. It was the 1960s after all.

Scott’s son, Michael, also played for Smyth with the Etobicoke Rangers. Daughter Katherine didn’t play baseball, but still laughs at the stories.

Scott lives in Toronto sometimes, operated a consulting business for clients across North America, earned a Master’s degree in Communication from Charles Sturt University, Australia and teaches part time at a Toronto university. He thanks Bob Elliott for his patience with punctuation and Bob Smyth for his friendship.