Monday, February 21, 2011

The Next Step

Whenever I've faced a life-changing decision, I've always written about it.  I find that writing really helps focus on what you think are the most important aspects of any decision.  It's a great way to really spell out your thoughts and identify the positives and negatives of a decision.  Another added benefit to writing about big decisions is that you'll be able to look back in time at your notes, letter, etc... to really re-connect with your thought process.  It helps re-kindle the passion and reaffirm why you made the decision in the first place.  This is one of those letters.

After 7 full seasons in Minor League Baseball, I've accepted a job offer with the Kansas City Royals as their new Mascot Coordinator and Performer.  This isn't the first time I've dabbled with MLB and their mascot programs.  Straight out of college, 22 years old, I was offered the position of the new mascot for the Chicago White Sox.  That same week I was also offered a job with a Class-A team, the Delmarva Shorebirds.  At that time I wrote myself a letter and really weighed the options of working for an MLB team or a Class A MiLB team.  Believe it or not, I chose the Class A team.  After getting a lot of input from veteran performers and the opportunity to really learn the business side of things, the Delmarva Shorebirds was the right call.  I wasn't ready for an MLB job yet, I was too cocky and too young.  It was an agonizing decision and I recall going back and forth with both teams numerous times. 

After two years on the Eastern Shore of Maryland(great vacation place, BTW), I got a job offer with the Fresno Grizzlies, the San Francisco Giants Triple A affiliate.  I wrote myself another letter.  This was easier than the previous one to write.  New Character, California, Triple A, Family nearby, new staff.  All the signs pointed in the right direction.  I knew opportunities in the mascot business like this one were few and far between.  I jumped at it and in 5 years helped make Parker one of the most recognized faces in Central California and in Baseball.  I am extremely proud of everything that was accomplished during those five years.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to take that next step with the character and in Minor League Baseball. 

So, I found myself out of a job, being supported by the State of California and my beautiful wife.  (Not a bad gig if you can get it!)  A full-time job opportunity came along and I've gone through the whole process of emotions and weighing the positives and negatives of my decision.  A very important word to me is potential.  What is the potential to this job offer?  It represents a bigger stage.  It represents a challenge to duplicate some of my successes at the Minor League Level.  It represents a new chapter.  I'm fully aware of the challenges that many MLB mascots face when it comes to skits, character development, input, recognition, etc...  I'm not going into this position thinking I'm going to set the world on fire from Day 1.  Character programs take time to build up.  The challenge for me is going to be taking an established character and re-inventing him while still staying true to the fanbase of the Royals.  People don't like change, but if it's change for the better, then eventually you win them over.  It's going to take some time.

This was a mutual decision for my wife and I.  I needed to know she was willing to take a risk and move to the Heartland with me.  She was.  None of this is possible without her.  That's another thing I've picked up along the way is a work/life balance.  If you talk to any veteran performer, the smart ones tell you to get a life outside your work.  While yes, I will be throwing myself into the character initially, I will find a life outside baseball and mascots.  It took me a while to understand that mascotting is what I do, not who I am. 

I had to make the judgment calls for this opportunity on my own.  In the past I consulted many people about every job offer that I've considered.  For this position, I did a little bit of that, but I also trusted my instinct and went into the interview process with eyes wide open and I've broken this down from many angles.  At the end of the day, with my wife's support, it was time to take my chance at the highest level.  I don't know what the future will hold, but I've had success at every step along the way.  I'm hoping to continue that streak.

Hardest part of the new gig?  Being skinny again.

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