Farewell, Fort Wayne
It feels like just a few weeks ago that I left Burlington, Vermont, with everything I owned crammed into my 2001 Honda CR-V to make the two day drive to Fort Wayne. It’s been much longer than that, two-and-a-half years, in fact, that I’ve worked for the TinCaps and called Fort Wayne home. And now, it’s time to say so long.
Today is my last day with the team, as I am moving on to pursue other TV broadcasting opportunities.
It brings so many feelings for me to write this—to move on. In so many ways I won’t “leave” Fort Wayne, because I’ll have the great memories I formed at Parkview Field and at ballparks around the Midwest League, and most importantly, I’ll have the great relationships that I formed with people around the world of baseball, as well as with the great TinCaps staff I’ve called not just my co-workers but my friends during my stay. Minor League Baseball is what you might call a young person’s game—long hours, long season, long days—and a lot of turnover is expected. As is the case with almost everything the TinCaps do, they differ from the norm, and in the best way. Fewer than five full-time employees left while I was here, meaning that the vast majority of my coworkers became close friends, people you knew you’d see season after season, and I think for the fans, that’s certainly what makes the ballpark a special place—knowing that the same friendly, familiar, smiling faces who know you well will be there game after game, year after year.
In other ways, though, I will leave Fort Wayne. I’ll be away from the day-after-day experience of working in Minor League Baseball, which consists of 140 games in 152 days. Gone are the times spent hanging out at the batting cage, in the dugout, the clubhouse, and the bus. I’ll leave a city that I’ve grown to love, and the only place that I’ve lived longer than six consecutive months since I left for my freshman year at Syracuse University. I’ll miss the places around my neighborhood: the gym, Kroger, the bank, the dry cleaner, the pharmacy, the gas station. Those are all places that, for someone who needs a GPS to find his front door, all became second nature in my head to navigate to. It’s a goodbye to a city of kind people, phenomenal restaurants, and a seemingly never-ending cycle of festivals throughout the summer. It’s a goodbye to familiarity.
There is an incredibly long list of people to thank, and I don’t want to start the list, because I’ll inevitably forget some folks, but I do need to name two: TinCaps President Mike Nutter and TinCaps VP – Marketing and Promotions, Michael Limmer.
First, Mike Nutter, who has been and continues to be an exceptional servant leader. From my first day with the team, when Mike invited me into his office and we chatted for 30 minutes, through every time the tarp was pulled on the field and he worked with the crew, to his encouragement of my pursuit of calling college basketball and football games, I’ve been nothing but inspired and motivated to work hard for Mike. Having worked at a variety of businesses before coming to Fort Wayne, the vibe given off by a president or a superior was one of superiority and ego-inflated importance, and that is never the case with Mike. He’s always in the trenches fighting with and for his employees, and my respect and admiration grows for him each day.
And Michael Limmer, with whom I worked most closely during my time with the TinCaps—I say thank you for always being open-minded, supportive, and responsive. The line between “boss” (I know you don’t like that word) and friend is hard to find, but you walk it with ease, and I know we’ll remain friends for a long time.
British philosopher Bertrand Russell once wrote, ”In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted”, and my time spent here has helped me do that. I’m no longer who I was when I arrived here two-and-a-half years ago, neither as a broadcaster nor as a person. Now, I must do it again as I move to a new area, embark on the next leg of my career, and forge new relationships, while still maintaining those which made my time in Fort Wayne great.
For some time I’ve said there are three things that I love about working in sports: the games, the travel, and the people. And it’s the people that always top the list. Thinking about Fort Wayne I think about the great cast of guys who do the official scoring and run the scoreboard, the beer vendors, the TV and newspaper reporters, the bus drivers, the security guards…and those are just at Parkview Field. On the road there’s the other team’s broadcaster, that club’s full-time staff, the group of guys in Midland, Michigan, I’ve come to know by playing 6 a.m. pickup basketball, and so on. Those people can’t be replaced, but they do make reminiscence enjoyable.
Working with the Padres organization has been enjoyable, too. Getting to learn from some great baseball minds, whether managers, hitting and pitching coaches, roving coordinators or farm directors, has made me appreciate the game like I never had before. Going from the kid begging for a ball at batting practice at Shea Stadium and then working for two years with Jose Valentin was something special, and interviewing Omar Minaya, the architect of the Mets teams I rooted for in high school, is a lasting memory as well. Everyone I’ve encountered with the Padres has been first class, and I thank them for being a great affiliate to work with in Fort Wayne.
Lastly, a thanks to those who have listened and watched over the last few years, with special gratitude for those who have turned email and Twitter relationships into real ones. Knowing that there are listeners (outside of my mother) who tune in each night, follow the story of the team, email with questions, and stay up late on too many summer nights along for the ride, makes it all worthwhile.
The broadcasting and media relations department now rests in the hands of John Nolan, who is in his second season with the team. John, like me, is a graduate of Syracuse University, and also got his start in baseball where I did, with the Falmouth Commodores of the Cape Cod Baseball League. Over the last two seasons I’ve been happy to not only call John a colleague, but a great friend. He’s someone who cares about the craft of broadcasting, and has a passion for baseball and the TinCaps organization. I have no doubt he will succeed greatly in this position, and look forward to watching him grow as I did during my time in Fort Wayne.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not”. I’ve found the beautiful in Fort Wayne and with the TinCaps, and will continue to carry it with me. But now, on a new path, my travel continues.