Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A Clubbie's Spirit

One year ago Monday our forty-two year old Clubhouse Manager Colin Saunders passed away. He had been very ill, seemed to be improving, then suddenly, he was gone.

Despite fourteen years of greeting one another in the office and catacombs of the ballpark, Colin and I weren’t close. I did not post about this last March. There were no stories or insights to share. (That photo does suggest a shared bad taste in argyle vest sweaters.)

I especially regret that disconnect because a profound sadness among my coworkers settled over the ballpark. Colin was beloved by our staff and within the Rays organization. Confessor to some. Motivator to others. And chamberlain to the players and coaches. I use that archaic term to confer dignity on the Clubbie’s responsibilities and work. He pretty much lived at the ballpark. Steward to the ball players. Friend to all.

Looking back twelve months, the 2017 season had a gloomy beginning. Yet the Bulls went on to win the Governors’ Cup and Triple-A National Championship. We set business and attendance records - a remarkable year. It’s not sentimental conjecture - there's undeniable proof - Colin’s spirit was with us.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Dedicated to Durham


"I will work for Durham until the day I die!"
Cora Cole-McFadden, Civic Honor Award
Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce
Annual Meeting | February 8, 2018

Cora is one of my favorite folks. I called her "Durham dynamite" in a tweet. The former City Councilwoman and Mayor Pro Tem has a big spirit.

There's an Old Testament story about the prophets Elijah and Elisha where the latter asks "Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit." That's my request of Cora!

In accepting the Durham Chamber's Civic Honor Award last week, she implored the business community to provide internships and summer jobs for Durham youth - to expose them to the world of business, to the world of work.

Durham Public Schools and Made in Durham are putting a fresh emphasis on work-based learning. It begins simply with career awareness, but that first rung on the ladder is important, especially for our children living at the poverty level. They don't necessarily see beyond their circumstances or neighborhood. An engaging career fair, a summertime job shadow opportunity or part-time job could alter the trajectory of a young life.

The City has a YouthWork program. The Durham Bulls and Bull City Hospitality are participating. YouthWork is currently lining up several hundred summer internships. Ideally, it would be in the thousands. 

There are over ten thousand students in Durham's high schools. As the kids move from grade to grade, we need to provide a couple thousand career exposures each year for rising sophomores and juniors, and then for graduates.

That's ambitious, but scale is important. We need those big numbers to make a significant difference.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

For Auld Lang Syne, My Friends

I'm guilty of severe lollygagging when it comes to this blog. I have developed a Twitter affection, rather, a Twitter infection!

However, a tweet is inadequate for the season of our Triple-A National Championship and International League Governors' Cup. I submit - with gratitude - this New Year's post as a placeholder and worthy 2017 year-in-review:

Bulls celebrate Sept National Championship win in Scranton PA

Durham hoists the Governors' Cup x5

L/R: Mike Birling, Durham Mayor Bill Bell & NC Gov Roy Cooper

Yes, a tweet is insufficient.
...for celebrating a twenty year affiliation with the Tampa Bay Rays and over ten million tickets sold at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Other highlights for me included Hispanic Heritage Night, Bark in the Park, Durm Night, Taco Tuesdays, our first e-gaming tourney at the DBAP and the enduring national popularity of the Bulls' logo and apparel.

More on the Bulls Top Ten Moments of 2017

As 2018 begins, I'm moving into a Special Projects role at Capitol Broadcasting Co. Building the Miracle League ball field in Durham is one of my top assignments. 

Meanwhile, Bulls GM Mike Birling got the "call up." He's the new and very able VP of Baseball Operations. His cup overfloweth with the ACC Baseball Championship returning to Durham in May and the Holly Springs Salamanders, Capitol's newly acquired collegiate summer league team. And in his spare time, Mike's designing jewelry...