All my friends and coworkers know I’m crazy for baseball. Not just for the Los Angeles Angels (I still trip over the “Los Angeles” part) but for all of MLB.
My obsession – I mean passion – started in the early 90s, right before my teenage years. My mom was a food server, and periodically one of her regular customers would give her his season tickets to an Angels game. Usually, it was when Chuck Finley, my mom’s crush, was pitching. Baseball crushes seem to run in my family. (More about that later.) My mom would take me to the game, and I would get to experience not only ‘mom and me’ time, but also free giveaways, indulgent food, cheering fans (well, not many fans; it was the 90s after all), and athleticism. One time, we were driving home from a game and we recognized one of the players driving next to us, following some girls in a convertible. I quickly took out my deck of team cards that were the giveaway that night and sifted through them to see which player he was. I held up one card to the window and yelled, “Luis Polonia?!” and he just smiled, shrugged, and zoomed off. We met a player! Kind of.
In 1993, the love of my life entered the game: JT Snow. Let the crushing begin! … figuratively and literally. This rookie was quite the handsome guy and had some power in his bat, along with some mad skills at first base. I still have the photo of me, permed hair and all, with my “Let It Snow” poster board that landed me on the jumbotron that night. That photo lives in my memorabilia collection that includes a signed bat and a JT Snow and Tim Salmon photo pillowcase that was a game giveaway from their rookie year.
JT was on the team for four years and then was traded to the San Francisco Giants. Guess who became my second favorite team? My love for baseball was put to the test in the 2002 World Series, when the Giants played the Angels. Problem: Who should I root for? Answer: Angels, except for when JT was up to bat. The Angels took the title, but I’ll never forget the moment when JT jolted out of the dugout to home plate during a play to grab a little batboy who had wandered onto the field, protecting him from harm. My hero!
At my first corporate job, a coworker used to stop near my desk to read the sports page. We started talking sports, and the next thing I knew, I was playing fantasy baseball in a league with nine men. I sure sucked at first. Picked a lot of Angels. But I quickly learned, and my love for ESPN’s BottomLine emerged.
In 2007, I connected with some Angel fan friends who I had gone to high school with, and we started going to games together – in our recent years, attending upwards of 30 to 35 games a year out of 81 home games. I also started using my vacations to explore one new stadium a year. I am now up to 21 stadiums! It’s hard to pick a favorite, but the contenders are Wrigley (Cubs), Fenway (Red Sox,) and SBC (Giants).
Last year, my passion crossed over into my career. One fine day while I was passing the break room, our president walked up to me and said, “Hey, Julie. We are pitching the Angels account. Want to be a part of it?” Ummm … YES! Our team was briefed and we had three days to come up with a whole campaign and presentation. I couldn’t have been happier to come in to a work on a Sunday with a “pitch” team full of baseball fans. I even got to present to the client. That was an accomplishment for me. We won the account, and I’ll never forget our company’s celebration. We had an all-agency meeting, and I was running late to attend it. When I opened the door, the whole agency had Champagne glasses raised and started cheering, singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” I might have turned bright red, but it was definitely a moment.
I am very thankful for the experience of the pitch. When your passion crosses over to your work, it can be scary, as you can’t help but wonder if being an insider will taint your perception. I am so happy to say that the clients are wonderful people and a pleasure to work with. Makes me love the team even more. I’ve enjoy contributing my baseball insights to the account. The ability to see out the strategy and execution of three commercials has been a dream come true. Our campaign is about a superfan named Julie. If you look carefully, you can see parts of me in all three commercials. You might have to press pause, but I swear I’m in there!
Remember what your passions are and use them in business whenever possible. When people are having fun in the workplace, it increases productivity and morale. You might be content to just show up to work and do your job well, but when you are passionate about something, it makes your job more FUN.