Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
bluewahoos.com | The Official Site of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos

Blue Wahoos Staff Grateful For Team's Support Following Season Delay

Blue Wahoos owners dedicate $25,000 to part-time staff members
Blue Wahoos staff members pose in the team store during the 2019 season. (Nino Mendez)
March 18, 2020

Mary Denaro walked into the Blue Wahoos main office Tuesday wearing a smile and carrying gratitude. She is among the team’s seasonal employees being provided a stipend in a caring gesture by team owners Quint and Rishy Studer to help with lost income from the delay of the Blue Wahoos’

Mary Denaro walked into the Blue Wahoos main office Tuesday wearing a smile and carrying gratitude.

She is among the team’s seasonal employees being provided a stipend in a caring gesture by team owners Quint and Rishy Studer to help with lost income from the delay of the Blue Wahoos’ 2020 season, which was to begin on April 9 at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

“It was an extremely surprising thing to me because they totally did not have to do this,” Denaro said. “We are experiencing a very unprecedented situation right now and I can’t say enough how appreciative I am of his help.

“I am one of these people who live pretty close to the edge, so this is going to make a difference to me. And I really, really, appreciate it."

The Studers committed $25,000 – the first financial help for employees provided by any Minor League Baseball team – to help part-time employees have extra money for groceries and essentials in dealing with shutdown effects from the coronavirus pandemic affecting the entire world.

Quint Studer said last Friday he wanted to help the Blue Wahoos’ 250 seasonal employees, following the announcement by Major and Minor League Baseball that the start of the 2020 season would be delayed.

“In this whole process, ever since it started, our concern has been about the health and safety of everyone,” Studer said. “It also quickly turns to employees and family needs. For so many of our seasonal employees, this will make a difference in their quality of life.

“This shows them that we are concerned and thinking of them. Hopefully it will help.”

As businesses, schools, and professional sports teams nationwide temporarily shutter operations to ensure the safety of their communities in effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, part-time workers like Denaro have worried about the financial impact.

The Blue Wahoos began Monday issuing the stipends to seasonal staff. In the first two days, more than 120 staff members have collected their money. Several chose to donate their stipend back into a general fund established to help others in need.

“It shows the sense of family here,” Denaro said. “They appreciate us. The team is behind us. I feel very supported.”

Another seasonal employee, Chioma Scott-Johnson, figured it would be awhile before she would get a paycheck from the Blue Wahoos due to the uncertain season delay.

“I didn’t expect anything this,” said Scott-Johnson, after receiving her money Monday. “It really shows we’re appreciated. And you don’t really see that many employers doing something like that for their employees.

“This is really nice.I am grateful for it.”

Currently, no one knows for sure when the 2020 baseball season will begin for MLB and MiLB teams. After suspending the conclusion of spring training last week, the 30 MLB teams have allowed their major league and minor league players to return to their homes.

The decision to indefinitely delay the start of the season coincided with recommendations last week by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and similar decisions made by the NBA, NHL, Major League Soccer, and all college sports governed by the NCAA. That included complete cancellation of the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments which were supposed to begin this week.

The timelines to re-start baseball activities have ranged anywhere from two to eight weeks. In the meantime, the generosity provided by the Blue Wahoos has wowed the part-time staff.

“Quint and Rishy Studer have really blessed me,” said Shane Tucker, a game-day employee in creative services. “This is how I make my extra money to give my family freedom to do some things.

“I’m a school teacher. I’m blessed, but things are tight. This is a kind of a couple nights out with family. It is very meaningful.”

Tucker said when MLB originally announced last Thursday the season would be suspended for two weeks, thus impacting all minor league baseball teams, he received empathy from friends.

“People who knew I worked for the Wahoos were saying, ‘Oh I’m sorry your season is getting pushed back a bit.’ I was like, ‘Yes, but they are taking care of me.’

“This is when we expected some money coming in and it’s happening for everyone who is a seasonal employee.” Tucker said.

Seasonal employees can receive their stipend by visiting the stadium during business hours through Friday and presenting a photo ID to be checked against the team’s staff directory.

The team has taken precautions to ensure the collective process is safe and follows social distancing recommendations by the CDC.

“It’s special in the sense that I wasn’t expecting it,” said Jeff Stewart, who visited the office Monday to receive his money. “Everybody is going through hardships right. I know Quint is quite an important person in the community and he’s got people’s backs and this proves that.

“I was excited to get the email and the first chance I got to come over here, I wanted to show my appreciation.”