Interning In Minor League Baseball Was Nothing Short of a Major League Experience
By Taylor Grayson, Indiana University
As far back as I can remember, my parents enjoyed bringing my older sister and me to Indianapolis Indians games—in fact, I still vividly remember catching a fly ball and thinking it was the coolest thing ever. My favorite childhood stuffed animal was mascot Rowdie; his baseball nose now faded and worn from years of snuggles and kisses.
Though I couldn’t tell you what teams the Indians played those many games I attended, or what the final scores were, I find that now, employed by the Indians as this season’s media relations and communications intern all of these years later, it really does not matter. And why is that? Isn’t that the point of sports? Shouldn’t we be keeping track of scores and stats?
Here’s my theory: the reason I vividly remember my times at Victory Field as a kid was not because the Indians had an outstanding record or the next up-and-coming pitcher, but because of the atmosphere. I can still taste the tang of the frozen lemonade shake-up that I begged my mom to buy for me, and I still remember the thrill that went through my 6-year old mind as I met Rowdie in the flesh (or fur). Years later and being on the “inside,” I’m happy to realize this all ties into the Indians core mission: memorable, affordable family fun.
Though there is a lot more hard work than glamour with a fulltime employment position, it is the small moments when I can still feel the magic I did as a kid. The Friday Fireworks promotion is a great example. While fans’ eyes are trained on the beautiful downtown Indy skyline and enjoying the show, I look into their faces to see joy and wonder, the same emotions I experienced. Victory Field isn’t just about baseball, but rather it takes an extra step to allow fans to find a home and make memories with loved ones they hold close.
So it is no wonder that when I tell people I work for the Indians, their faces light up and an uncontrollable grin commonly appears. It seems that everyone has a positive tie with the team, because the goal is not just to attract “sports” fans, but rather a devoted following that believes we are among the best outdoor downtown summertime family entertainment that Central Indiana has to offer.
Ask any of the other Indians’ interns and they will tell you the same thing. Sure, the hours are long and the infamous requirement of making sure the infield gets covered and uncovered at all times of the day or night (a.k.a. tarp pulls) seem infinite, but what we take away are friendships and a learning experience of a lifetime.
“The Indians internship is a great opportunity to broaden an intern’s knowledge to the inner workings of a Triple-A baseball team,” said Bryan Spisak, Indians internship coordinator. “Our program concludes with interns having the confidence to apply and compete for jobs in the sports and entertainment industry at any level.”
“Full-time staff gave us plenty of important jobs and big responsibilities, and they cheered us on when we succeeded, but also responded with grace and patience when we messed up,” said Natalie Johnson, community relations intern and Auburn University graduate. “This has definitely been the best and most comprehensive learning experience I’ve ever had. I’ve found myself doing things I never imagined doing— things like catapulting stuffed cows out of a slingshot every game, or chasing Rowdie as he rides a bike around a Meijer store, or leading 75 highly enthusiastic (and loud) kids on a tour of Victory Field.”
Though not all Indians interns stay in the sports world, each will tell you the lessons learned can be applied just about anywhere, and sometimes you might even find your place was in Minor League Baseball all along.
“Going into the internship I had strong reservations about working in Minor League Baseball, but by the time the season started I realized I loved every bit of it,” said Amy Peterson, merchandise intern, an IUPUI graduate.
The Indianapolis Indians internship program runs from mid-January through mid-September. For the 2016 season the Indians interns worked in business operations, communications, community relations, creative services, merchandise, stadium operations, and ticket sales.
“A positive I will take away is staying calm and focused, not letting stress get to me,” said Nick Bralich, tickets intern, and graduate of University of Missouri. “This internship will help for the rest of my life with customers and being able to manage their wants and needs.”
No matter how you cut it, the friends you make here are always in your corner, the people you lean on during a season that feels infinitely long. At the end of the day, your second family lives just inside the gates of Victory Field.
“The Indians watched me grow and molded me into the person I am today,” said Becca Spitzig, ticket intern from Indiana State. “They saw my strengths and utilized them, saw my weaknesses and helped me strengthen them.
“I will miss every staff member dearly, especially my fellow interns. You are inseparable during the 144-game season. We saw each other at our best and worst, but we stuck together and helped each other to get through the tough times and were always willing to help one another to get the job done.
“With pride in my voice and confidence in my soul, I can state the Indianapolis Indians are the Major League of internships.”