During next week's Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, the majority of the reportage is sure to revolve around free-agent signings and blockbuster trades. In the midst of this predictable media frenzy, which will focus on big names and even bigger money, let us not forget those occupying the lowest rung of the Winter Meetings professional hierarchy.
I am speaking of the job seekers, who, as always, will be attending the annual Professional Baseball Employment Opportunity Job Fair in great numbers. The opportunities are plentiful, but the competition is fierce. At last year's Winter Meetings in San Diego, 604 job seekers vied for 467 positions posted by 132 organizations. In 2015, for the fourth consecutive year, I have recruited four individuals to write about their experiences as they attempt to obtain baseball industry employment.
This year's crop of Job Seeker Journal writers will provide daily updates (on MiLB.com and Ben's Biz Blog), live and direct from Nashville's Gaylord Opryland Hotel. But first, let's get to know a little bit about each of them.
David Lauterbach (@LauterbachDavid)
School: Currently a senior at Syracuse University
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Prior sports industry experience: During the summers of 2013 and 2014, I worked as a broadcaster and media relations intern for the Falmouth Commodores of the Cape Cod Baseball League. I had the opportunity to see future first-round Draft picks (and future Major Leaguers) play, including Brandon Finnegan, Kevin Newman and Casey Gillaspie. This past season, I was the communications associate and play-by-play broadcaster for the New York-Penn League's Auburn Doubledays (Class A Short Season affiliate of the Washington Nationals). At Syracuse, I am the assistant sports director at WAER 88.3 FM, where I call Syracuse University men's basketball, football and lacrosse games.
Why he wants to work in baseball: Vin Scully. Growing up in Los Angeles as a fifth-generation Dodgers fan, the voice of Vin Scully was ingrained in my head at an early age. He's the reason I want to become a broadcaster and work in baseball in general. Growing up as a fifth-generation fan helped me realize how baseball can connect generations and how a broadcaster can play a vital role in that.
Why he wants to write about it: Since I was a freshman at Syracuse I have wanted to attend the Winter Meetings. Last year I read Josh Lewin's book Getting in the Game, which was about his time at the Winter Meetings (which also took place in Nashville). Lewin's book helped me understand how important it is to not only go to the Winter Meetings, but to also meet people because you never know when and where you may run into them again. Therefore, I would love the opportunity to write about my time at the Meetings and help future men and women who want to work in baseball realize how important it is to attend.
One random fact: I have a passion for Roman and Greek mythology. Next year I want to backpack through Italy and Greece, studying mythology and its impact on Italian and Greek culture in the past, present and future.
Tori Payne (@torirpayne)
School: Student at Vanderbilt University, graduating May 2016
Hometown: Johnson City, Tennessee
Prior sports industry experience: I am currently an intern at G7 Entertainment Marketing, as well as a Vanderbilt Baseball music operations and marketing intern. I am also a veteran of four previous internships: Community Relations for Vanderbilt Athletics (Summer 2015), Client Services and Event Marketing for Athlon Sports (Fall 2014), Media Relations for the Big League World Series (Summer 2014), and finally, the Harwich Mariners of the Cape Cod Baseball League (Summer 2013). I also attended the Minor League Baseball Diversity Leadership Symposium at Tennessee State University this past November.
Why she wants to work in baseball: Baseball has always been a huge part of my life. Literally, the day I was born, my dad left me in the hospital to coach a college baseball game. My dad has coached for a couple of college teams, coached a summer collegiate team and scouted. Currently, he works as a high school athletic director. His passion was passed on to me, and I have been actively pursuing a career within the baseball industry since I entered college.
In my opinion, baseball is the American pastime. There is such a thrill about going to a game, as compared to watching it on TV. While I know that there are positions that I haven't learned about yet, I am currently passionate about the marketing realm (specifically, creating experiential marketing campaigns and activations to tie brands with a team in a unique way). I am interested in innovative ways to attract fans and give them an inimitable experience that they would not receive from home or at a bar. Whether through social media and smartphones or with a breakthrough idea and onsite activation, I want to use my experience to contribute to this transition in the baseball industry.
Why she wants to write about it: I think that I will bring an interesting perspective because of where I am in my career journey. I have not yet graduated, but have huge dreams. I've been turned down for some great opportunities, but have received other opportunities that I never expected and that changed my life. This will be my first time coming to the Winter Meetings, those same Winter Meetings that I have heard my Dad talk about since I was a child. I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts and perspectives with others who are considering taking a leap into the baseball industry, as well as with those who are actively pursuing it alongside me.
One random fact: I am in an acapella group on Vanderbilt's campus and actually have a song on Spotify! (Check out artist Swinging Dores, album Hell on Heels and song "Tattooed Heart.")
Will "The Thrill" Privette (@thrill21)
School: North Carolina State University, class of 2013
Hometown: Zebulon, North Carolina (home of the Carolina Mudcats)
Prior sports industry experience: I have worked as a video intern for the Cleveland Indians (2014) and Atlanta Braves (2015). Both of these internships were based out of the Mudcats' home of Five County Stadium.
Why he wants to work in baseball: I have wanted to work in baseball since I was 14, and I've made it my mission to make my dream come true. My goal is to work in player development for a Major League Baseball team, with the ultimate goal of being a farm director.
Why he wants to write about it: The job hunt process is long, exciting and unique. For the past two Winter Meetings I've woken up every day at 8 a.m. and stayed in the lobby of the hotel until 11 at night. I want to show how awesome, yet exhausting, the Winter Meetings can be. For example, last year in San Diego, I was in the lobby and received a phone call from a team that I hadn't previously spoken to at all. Thirty minutes later, I was in a hotel room interviewing for the job. You don't see that in any other industry, and that's what makes me love baseball and the Winter Meetings. You never know what's coming, but you have to be ready for almost anything.
One random fact: I gained national recognition in 2013 for storming the court in my wheelchair after NC State basketball upset then-No. 1 Duke. I did over 50 interviews in the aftermath of the incident, including Sports Illustrated and The Today Show.
Jim Angell (@Jim_Angell)
School: Marycrest College (located in Davenport, Iowa), class of 1985
Hometown: Dunlap, Illinois (located just outside of Peoria, Illinois)
Prior sports industry experience: I was a sports writer and photographer for both my college newspaper and the Quad City Times newspaper in Davenport, Iowa. One of my main assignments was to cover the local Minor League Baseball team -- at that time it was the Quad City Angels. I have also been a freelance writer and photographer, supplying material to the Peoria Chiefs.
Why he wants to work in baseball: Like Roy Hobbs in The Natural, I put my dreams of a career in baseball on hold while I raised a family and established another career. However, my mind was always on the game. Now that I have been "economically downsized" (a.k.a. lost my job) after a 17-year run with a company, I have been given a "Roy Hobbs" opportunity to get back into the game. A game which I have been playing since I was 8 years old and still play today. A game which I have evolved along with, embracing the new era of statistical analysis while weaving in the "old-school" ways of how to play the game. This is my shot at a dream that's been a long time in the making, with my family cheering me on.
Why he wants to write about it: Writing has been the core component of my professional talent package, and now I get to focus on the game 100 percent! Since I am an "older" job seeker, I believe I can approach the Winter Meetings and the PBEO Job Fair from a different angle, one that professionals in a similar position to mine would appreciate. I believe there's a place in the game for "veterans" like myself.
One random fact about Jim: How about two? I experienced three professional baseball tryouts at shortstop/second base with the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and the Texas Rangers. I am also a U.S. Army veteran, serving most of my time with the 82nd Airborne Division. Yes, I willingly parachuted from operational aircraft -- C130 and C141 airplanes and a "Huey" helicopter.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.