Chief of Staff | Game Daze

Steve Phillips I’m not.
“Who is the guy there who looks like Anderson Cooper?” my wife asked me last night as I flipped the remote to “Baseball Tonight.” I explained to her that it was Steve Phillips, the former New York Mets general manager-turned-ESPN baseball analyst.
“General manager? Like you?” she asked jokingly.

“Well, except that he didn’t have to drive around town the morning after a game to pick up signs,” I shot back.

Because that’s at least part of my job as general manager of the Waynesboro Generals. We have these sandwich-board-type signs that we put up around town on game days to announce the night’s game. A volunteer had put them up at the usual spots on Sunday before our opener with our rival Staunton Braves. The message didn’t get to me until early Monday morning that we hadn’t had a plan in place to pick them up.

This came at the end of a whirlwind 24 hours that had begun Sunday morning with Crystal and me packing up the office and driving it over to Fishburne Military School Park at Kate Collins Field. (Cha-ching! And more on that later.) Another part of being general manager is that we are devoting some of our front-office space to the Generals Store, where we’re selling tickets and T-shirts and hats and knickknacks during business hours. We took a good part of the store over to the ballyard, plus tables and chairs and it felt like the rest of the office just to sort through in the event that we might have forgotten something important.

A good part of my afternoon was spent on sign and banner patrol. We hadn’t finished our preseason work getting the messages from our sponsors up on the outfield wall for our fans to see, and of course those messages pay a lot of the bills. We were still out there during batting practice, which got a little close to home toward the end when an unidentified player started wreaking havoc on the left-centerfield fence about 10 feet away from where we were putting up the last banner, for StellarOne.

From there I floated around to try to put out fires, or at least douse the flames of fires, in the concession stand and the ticket gate and press box. My appearance in the press box around 6:45 resulted in me taking on the task of doing the pregame show on the webcast, which turned into a nine-inning stint first doing play-by-play and finishing up doing color when John Leonard of All Things Valley League took over the primary duties in the seventh inning so I could scarf down a quick dinner.

The day that had begun at 10 that morning ended for me around midnight after a meeting with Leonard and Jerry Carter, the co-owners, manager Andy Chalot and his staff, where we all decompressed about the game, a 10-1 loss that was over early, after the Braves put up a fourspot in the third and added another five runs in the fourth, and how things went behind the scenes.

Technically, it didn’t end for me until I picked up the signs the next morning.

Which reminds me. I need to get in touch with Steve Phillips about the signs thing. I’m sure he had somebody on the Mets staff who took care of that for him.


– Column by Chris Graham

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