Friday, January 31, 2014

What's It Like To Work For The Chicago White Sox?

William “Night Train” Veeck—known as “Train” to his friends—is the grandson of Baseball Hall of Famer Bill Veeck. Bill was a promoter of Major League Baseball and also had ownership interests in the Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Browns, and Cleveland Indians. I spoke with Train about his grandfather and his own work in baseball, working for the White Sox.

What was it like growing up in a baseball family? Besides your grandfather, your father Mike has ownership interests in several minor league teams?
Dinner table conversations were lots of fun. I learned a lot about the marketing strategies and front office operations. I started working at the ballpark when I was five years old. I would fill up sodas, and roll up hot dogs into aluminum foil. I even had a tip jar for people whom appreciated my hard work.

Why are you following the Veeck legacy and working in baseball?
I love baseball. It’s everything I have known and worked for. A very humbling experience for me is walking through the gates before a home game and knowing that the legacy in my family is still going strong. I am part of an organization that has done a lot for me and my family.

Your grandfather famously had a little person, Eddie Gaedel, pinch hit in a baseball game.
Yes, everybody knows the story. His jersey resides in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Many years ago, my sister held up the jersey and the experience was very enchanting.

What’s your primary job with the White Sox?
Group sales of 20 or more people. My favorite area of the ballpark is the patio in right field, which is run by the Bertucci Boys. For a fixed price, you have unlimited beer and the best food in Major League Baseball. The price also includes a game ticket. This is something to experience if you haven’t already done so.

Whether the Sox win or lose, how do you make sure the fans leave happy?
I can’t control the wins or losses, so we focus on customer service and customer engagement. Is the beer cold?  Hot dog hot? Being at the ballpark allows you to get away from work life for a few hours, so we need to make sure you are being taken care of.

The main goal for any ball club is to fill the seats. How is social media helping you do this?
We opened a social media lounge in June. Fans can stop in and charge their phones. They can congregate to interact both online and offline to work collaboratively. Via social media, we can respond to customer service inquiries. For example, if we have game issues or any information we need to disseminate to fans, we can do so in real-time. We also upgrade fans’ seats and sometimes bring free food to people who are engaging with us on Twitter.

Train Veeck with Michael Osacky.
What’s the biggest difference between working with the White Sox and working with a minor league team like the Charleston River Dogs?
Mobility of ideas. Ideas get out quicker in the minors. There’s a different mindset. We can get a little more “wild” in the minors. In MLB, people pay lots of money for a season ticket, so you don’t want to belittle the experience.

When the game ends, what is your wish for every fan exiting the building?
Make sure everybody had fun

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Top Reasons Why Sportscards & Memorabilia Collections Are Liquidated

People frequently ask me why anyone would want to sell family heirlooms like vintage sports cards and memorabilia collections. I’ve found that very few people want to sell but they are forced to sell, often for the following reasons.

1. Death
When a person passes, the government has a vested interest in this person’s estate. If you do not have a living trust, the estate will end up in probate court. Probate court specializes in the administration of estates. A large percent of the total proceeds from the estate will be paid to the government. If a sports memorabilia collection is part of the estate, it will probably be sold to pay off any debts from the estate. Additionally, the representative from the estate may have no interest in the collection and would rather liquidate.

2. Divorce
When a couple gets divorced, a judge could force one to sell a collection to pay for alimony, child-support, or legal bills, etc. The memorabilia collection can often be the last thing one would want to part with since it likely took several years to amass and is a treasured possession.
3. Economic
The current economic recession has unearthed many unique vintage sports cards and memorabilia. These family heirlooms hold a strong sentimental connection to the families. However, when the breadwinner of the family loses his or her job and remains unemployed for an extended period of time, he or she must find a way to pay the bills. When forced with the tough decision of foreclosure, the decision to sell the sports memorabilia collection is a little easier.

4. Paying for College Tuition
It is no secret that college tuition is very expensive. Scholarships for superior athletes or exceptional geniuses are the exception to the norm. The ability to pay for room and board is not easy in this recession. Therefore, many families have decided to sell collectibles and finance their child’s education.
Very few people want to sell their prized memorabilia collection.  However, many people need to liquidate for the reasons listed above.  One of the benefits of liquidating is the opportunity for the buyer to seek enjoyment in the collection and be able to share all of the happiness just like the previous owner.

If you want to add others, please do so in the comments section.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Baseball Secrets of the Wrigley Field Dumpsters

Dumpster diving, antiquing, picking—whatever you call it, it’s something that many of us do each spring/summer as the weather breaks and the rain gives way to rising temperatures and sunny skies. One could argue that “antiquing” is a national pastime, as the majority of Americans have visited a garage sale, purchased an item from an antique store off the highway, or perhaps walked one of the numerous flea markets in the area. TV shows like American Pickers get us excited to see what treasures are still buried in attics, garages, and barns.

I recently met with a woman, Sarah, who told me that she started “picking” before television was even around. Sarah was born and raised in Chicago and was a huge Chicago Cubs fan. She lived close to Wrigley Field and even though she didn’t always have money to purchase a ticket to the ballgame, she would frequent the area just to share in the excitement of thousands of fans cheering on their team to victory.
One late afternoon during the hot summer of 1962, Sarah was walking down Waveland Ave. and noticed several items being tossed into the dumpsters. She stopped and asked the security guards what was being thrown away. The guards didn’t know or care; it was trash. Sarah started to befriend the guards, and after about 15-20 minutes of chatting, she asked if she could “dumpster dive” and see what was inside.

The security guards laughed and then let her climb into the dumpsters. At the very top of the pile were two large and heavy albums. Sarah didn’t open the albums to see what was inside, but she figured they could be something good. Reluctantly, the security guards allowed her to take them with her.
When Sarah got home, she quickly realized that the albums were old scouting reports filled out by the Cubs’ advance scouting teams. Advance scouts are paid to scout the opponents to try and gain the upper hand during a live ball game. It’s always important to know how your competition is hitting, fielding, pitching, and stealing bases. The scouts “rate” every weakness and strength for each player and document the findings in albums.

So Sarah found a very interesting piece of sports memorabilia and something that she has treasured for decades. But good luck trying to scale the fence at Wrigley Field today—let alone persuade the security guards to let you leave with anything!