¡Ser un fan! is a content series designed to spotlight and embrace the people, programs, culture and stories that champion Copa de la Diversión's community impact and further advance Minor League Baseball's continuous efforts to diversify the game and business of baseball.
As part of the second edition of Minor League Baseball's Latino fan engagement initiative, Copa de la Diversión, we are highlighting teams' Latino staff members. We had the opportunity to chat with Rafael Bastidas, Latino marketing outreach coordinator for Los Caballeros de Charlotte (Charlotte Knights). In his role, Bastidas looks to connect the Hispanic community in Charlotte with the team. Previously, he was a teacher and a journalist with a passion for baseball. Bastidas is a role model for every Latino who looks to work in the sports industry.
Minor League Baseball: How did your career in the sports industry begin?
Rafael Bastida: Back in 2000, I started working with newspapers and TV in Venezuela covering sports. After that, I had the opportunity to open the media relations department at the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum where I worked directly with baseball by developing different projects.
MiLB: What advice would you give to someone who is looking to break into the sports industry or work for a baseball team?
RB: It is important to understand that this is a highly competitive industry. The individual needs to have a lot of patience, have a strategy for how he or she is going to achieve his or her objetctives, network and earn respect through hard work and professional conduct.
MiLB: What does your typical day look like?
RB: The first thing I do is get to the office early and drink a cup of coffee. After that I look at different media outlets to analyze their information and then generate information to go on our social media platforms depending on what the day looks like. Finally, put the plan in place based on the department that I manage.
Rafael Bastidas with dancers for a Copa de la Diversión game.
MiLB: What is your favorite part about your job?
RB: The connections that I make daily, the opportunities that I have to bring special moments to the Latino community through Los Caballeros de Charlotte and watching the team play at the stadium.
MiLB: What was your reaction when you found out that Charlotte would be a part of Copa de la Diversión?
RB: I was really happy, because it was something that needed to be done in Minor League Baseball. Latinos have always had a link to baseball on or off the field; however, there was no initiative that could appropriately make the connection to the community. The Charlotte Knights accepted the challenge and started to create those relationships with community leaders, organizations and companies to let them know that Copa de la Diversión is the opening for diversity in a city that has had an increase in Latino population in the past 10 years.
Rafael Bastidas (left) in the press box during a Caballeros de Charlotte game.
MiLB: How did you come up with the idea for the blog Vamos Caballeros?
RB: Out of necessity of information and content for the Latino audience, I asked our front office if I could create a blog using our official Charlotte Knights webpage with our slogan "¡Vamos Caballeros!" It has has been fabulous because it is a platform that let us generate different content pieces through interviews and connect with our fans during the season.
MiLB: Would you do something differently in your career?
RB: I would have liked to explore being a baseball umpire. It's very interesting and fascinating. It's a profession that is very demanding, so I would have prepared myself for that challenge.
MiLB: Who is your role model and why?
RB: I admire Juan Vené and his career. He is a Venezuelan journalist who has broken all the molds in baseball information. He knows the game, has the ability to respond to the fans and to the players and most importantly he has never lost his identity as a Latino. I regularly check on his pieces!
MiLB: Who is your favorite player from Los Caballeros de Charlotte roster?
RB: Brazilian pitcher Thyago Vieira, because on and off the field he is respectful. He has been with the Caballeros for the last few years, and he recognizes the importance part of being Latino and the objective of Copa de la Diversión. I also want to give a special mention to the coach Guillermo Quiroz, who won a World Series ring with the San Francisco Giants, and who has been present at every event with Los Caballeros de Charlotte.
MiLB: What does the future hold for you and Los Caballeros de Charlotte?
RB: Los Caballeros de Charlotte can be a tool of support for different organizations in the city of Charlotte in different areas like sports, education, health and culture. Also, it can generate marketing for the Charlotte Knights organization. My expectation for the next year is to provide a strong plan for my area of expertise.