Wanna buy a baseball team?
No takers as of yet, so let’s deal!
Column by Chris Graham
No, you’re not going to get rich. And no, it’s not anything close to what it feels like being George Steinbrenner. As much as I can guess what it’s like to be The Boss, anyway. You know, being able to build a billion-dollar stadium, and if you want Mark Teixeira, well, then, OK, go out and get me Teixeira! And C.C. Sabathia, too, while you’re at it! Chop, chop!
Running a Valley League team is the other end of the sports universe from the New York Yankees. Heck, it’s a far cry from the Pittsburgh Pirates – alright, maybe not a far cry from the Pirates, but still.
You buy the team – and it’s for sale, cheap! – and you’re as likely to end up selling tickets at the front gate or running the concession stand as you are to end up sitting in some cushy luxury owner’s box.
Make that much, much more likely.
Which isn’t to say that it isn’t a ton of fun, as I found out last year, when I did my first tour of duty in the Valley League as the general manager of the now-up-for-sale Waynesboro Generals.
Sure, I spent portions of several games out at the gate selling tickets. I never did have to work the concessions, but I was the relief for the Generals Store, and filled in there several nights, in addition to ending the season as the play-by-play guy on the Internet broadcasts.
I was at the ballpark by 5 most home-game days, and there ’til 11, at which point it was my job to drive around town to pick up the oversized wooden signs that we put out at busy intersections to advertise the team.
(I’d be out at 8:30 the mornings of game days to put them back out. Burning both ends of the candle on that one.)
One night I had to leave the store to run to KMart to buy batteries for the radar gun. Another night I rushed home to get a popup tent for a sponsor that forgot to brings its tent for a PR display.
The idea was that we did all this so that the people coming to the games didn’t realize that we were doing all this, if that makes sense.
If we were doing our jobs, and I think we did a fair job of that last summer, then you guys had a good time watching future major-leaguers play their hearts out.
There’s a certain satisfaction to being a part of a Valley League operation like the Generals.
You probably know by now that the Generals are in a bit of jeopardy at the present time. Times being what they are, the current owner is looking to sell to somebody who can take what a lot of us treat as a community property and keep it going, basically.
I’m not being a good salesman here, am I? Because I’m telling you straight up that if you buy the team you’re not only not going to get rich in the process, but you’re going to spend most of your time in dealing with it taking care of everything that needs taken care of, and at the end of the day, the main thing is just going to be to keep it going.
I’m such an expert on this, I know, having been deep into Valley League baseball for all of a year now, but if you ask me, this is the way it’s always been. Teams are for-profit ventures in name only; in every practical respect, they’re run as public trusts by people who want nothing of fame or glory, just a chance to be a cog in a machine that makes three or four hundred people a night happy sitting out with their friends watching what has been and is and will be our national pastime being played by kids who in a few years will be megastars on the biggest sports stage of them all, at least in their minds.
Now to the point of this essay. Wanna buy a baseball team?