I love to write about first impressions, how a place or a person invites me to feel, it is how I write about baseball. I observe and experience things with a critical eye. This first impression is important since, consciously or subconsciously, this is how the majority of people judge; be it another person, a place, or a thing.
I am very critical of myself when I write, I take a lot of time editing my work, I want to make sure my words engage and entertain, my message understood. I want to provoke a thought, or for the readers to remember an experience. I am told I write well (by my mom and girlfriend but that’s besides the point). It takes time and effort and if I am going to do it, I will do it to the best of my ability.
I need to write/talk about “baseball hospitality”. Yes, hospitality, which I define as a friendly and generous reception, fan engagement and ownership, and an entertaining game. This is what I am looking for when I come to a ball game. To me this is a simple formula to be successful and profitable at all levels of baseball.
Many teams miss the mark, I don’t understand why, baseball is still the national pastime, there are more people playing and watching the game than in its history.
(If you don’t believe me look at all the kids in tee-ball, Little League, recreation leagues, the select leagues, American Legion, High School, college, college summer ball, the MLB partner leagues, the minor league, the MLB and around the world in Japan, the Caribbean, and Korea.)
Hospitality is simple, greet your fans with a smile, be courteous and generous with your time, make it easy to get beer and bratwurst, have a fun mascot and play area for the kids, engage the fans during and between innings. Keep the park clean and organized, it is these details which keep the fans coming back.
Fans love identifying with their team, this is the ownership aspect, they want the jerseys, hats, and knick-knacks along with the creative name and goofy mascot. At the lower levels of baseball it is not always about the game being played.
The MLB is about the players and wins, they have polished and perfected their fan experience, I enjoy going to MLB games. However, I absolutely love going to a college summer wood bat league where I don’t know any of the players, the stadium is old (but clean), interns are directing it all, hot dogs and burgers are fresh off the grill, and the beer local. Nostalgia comes to mind.
Successful teams subscribe to this belief, it is about marketing and having a critical eye on hospitality, if the team is also good that is a bonus, players will come and go.
I write about the marketing, hospitality and the fan experience of baseball. I will continue to rate teams by their hospitality as I continue to find the characters around the game and behind the scenes. I broadcast these sights and sounds through my Baseball Buddha Media YouTube Channel, The Baseball Sentinel Website and the three podcasts; Ballpark Confidential, Baseball Is Happiness and Baseball In America.