WSR: Who was the most influential person in your life that got you interested in baseball?
WSR: When did you know you would make baseball a career?
WENDY: At an early age, I was introduced to the ballpark life, the games and the people. I loved everything about it! I spent much time with him in the training room, winter ball, and spring training. I aspired to be just like my dad and wanted to be a general manager. However at that time a position like that was almost unheard of. He encouraged me to pursue other avenues. My brother however fulfilled my dream and he became the General Manger of our team a few years back. My mom has always been the game time receptionist and I have always worked here in some capacity along with my three children who have all been around the game since the age of six months. My mom always felt it was important to be at the ballpark supporting my dad.
WSR: What are your responsibilities?
WENDY: Opening Day 1997, the year of our new stadium, the merchandise person quit after the game that day. My brother looked at me and said “can you fill in until we find someone”? I gladly accepted as I had retail experience and thirteen years later I am still here. I like to think it’s because I do such a great job and not because they couldn’t fill the spot! Shortly after taking the job I ventured into the promotions area also and concentrate on Ladies promotions. I also take care of Player appearances and Community Relations. I do all the uniform ordering for our team too. But as we all know in Minor League baseball your title never describes what you do, because you do a little of everything even if it is not with in your job title. I have even been known to sew a patch on a players pants.
WSR: What do you do during the off season?
WENDY: People often ask me what do you possibly do in the off season? There is no off season! From the last day of your season to the following Opening Day you work preparing for the next season. Yes you get to go home at 5:00 instead of 11:00, but you are BUSY. When Opening Day happens upon you, you feel as though you never left. That first pitch brings a smile to your face. The feeling that comes over you makes everything seem right again. Just thinking about it now gives me such a feeling of excitement .It’s what makes those of us who have been around for so long love it like nothing else.
WSR: What do you love most about your job?
WENDY: When you work in baseball you see and experience things that most people only dream of. Meeting Johnny Damon (the hero for the New York Yankees in the 2009 World Series) this past September was that dream for me. Even though I have seen my share of high profile players coming through these doors, meeting your favorite player is an awesome experience. One of our former players Brandon League and his wife set the meeting up for me in Toronto. So you see making connections in the baseball world is very important. You never know when someone can help you and they always do.
WSR: What is the most difficult part of your work?
WENDY: I honestly can say that like my father I look forward to each day that I spend at the ballpark. Does that mean that halfway through the season in the middle of an eight game home stand, I’m not physically drained? No it does not. I won’t begin to pretend that this is an easy life. The hours are long, your family time suffers unless they choose to work at the park too and you miss events and family functions.
WSR: I am sure you have heard some interesting stories. Care to share a few?
WENDY: I grew up on hearing the best baseball stories. My dad was privileged enough to have met the best and always had a tale to tell, In the dugout with Casey Stengel, having a locker next to Joe DiMaggio, watching Babe Ruth when he was young.
Dad told many stories about Ted Williams. That always left me with wanting to know more. His love of Ted Williams led me to become a huge Red Sox fan even though I am in the heart of Yankee country.
I have been fortunate enough to grow up in baseball under some great organizations. The Mets, Tigers, Yankees, Blue Jays, and today the Nationals have lead to so many great players walking these halls. Players like Thurmon Munson, Denny McLain, Vernon Wells, Roy Halladay, Shawn Green to mention a few. I don’t think there is a Major League team out there that one of our players hasn’t played for. I have seen Major League rehabs of Curt Schilling, John Smoltz, Manny Ramirez, Darryl Strawberry, and yes Deon Sanders (football star Dallas Cowboys) even played a season for us!
WSR: What’s the best thing about working in baseball for you?
WENDY: Not only do I have memories of great players but of their wonderful families too. They become your family each new baseball season. Baseball friendships are everlasting. Maybe because we spend so much time together. I always tell my daughter, “the best thing about baseball is the people you meet”.
WSR: And the most difficult?
WENDY: The worst is, having to say good-bye. Somehow or some way though your paths always seem to cross again and you always keep in touch. My baseball family grows each year with each new team that arrives. I personally take it upon myself to meet every wife, child, and family member of a player. I make it my job to welcome them into our family and make them feel at home. Apartment hunting, doctors names, restaurants, etc. anything they need I am there.
WSR: Can you tell me how baseball has affected your personal life?
WENDY: A life without baseball is unimaginable to me. Everything in my life has revolved around it. Even my wedding date and births of my children were planned around the season. My wedding date revolved around our schedule that year. My dad had his radio head set with him during the reception listening to our game. I knew not to schedule our wedding on a home game date!! When I met my husband one of the first questions I asked was “do you like baseball”? Lucky for me he said yes.
WSR: What do you do and think about during the off season?
WENDY: I patiently look forward to Spring Training each year, to hear the crack of the bat. Most days during the season I find time to sit in the stands before the gates open even if it’s for only five minutes. Watching batting practice is my way to unwind and relax before the night’s game. The gates open and your routine will start once again. You greet your regular fans, you welcome new ones. The smells of popcorn popping and the hot dogs grilling fills the air and everything becomes right again. The game is back in town!
WSR: Your passion for the game comes through loud and clear. Can you tell me
your feelings for baseball?
WENDY: People have told me when I discuss my team there is such passion. That’s because there is. I have loved every moment I have ever spent in the baseball world. It has allowed me many opportunities and experiences that I will treasure forever.
WSR: What is you favorite memory?
WENDY: My favorite memory will be watching my dad inducted into the International League Hall of Fame. He has received many awards through the years and even has the street coming into the ballpark named after him. But watching him that day giving a speech at our own ballpark after having his voice box removed 6 months earlier was priceless. He has an implant that allows him to speak. It was an emotional day for all of us. He has given so much to live his dream. I hope I make him proud by continuing to work at something he loves so much.
WSR: What is your advise to a young women considering a career in baseball?
WENDY: Be willing to learn all aspects of the game and its operations. Don’t be afraid to step up to the plate as a female. Your input is valuable.
(a) Anthony “Tex” Simone is the Executive Vice President/COO of the Syracuse Chiefs. The street the stadium is located on is One Tex Simone Drive.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS