Grand slam summer with the SI Yanks

Written by Anthony Ruggiero on . Posted in News

This summer, I was hired by the Staten Island Yankees to be the team's media relations intern

My job responsibilities included: checking in the credentialed media, submitting the starting lineups to the coaches and live-tweeting the games. Most importantly, I was responsible for writing game and series recaps about the team and interviewing players for feature stories.

My summer with the Staten Island Yankees was incredible. I learned the ins-and-outs of how a minor league baseball operates on a daily basis. There is much work that needs to be done before and after the game. It had the feeling of producing a show rather just a baseball game. I would arrive at work at 4 p.m. and the game would begin at 7 p.m. I had to make sure the radios in the suites worked and made sure every reporter in the press box had a copy of the lineups and updated team statistics. There is tons of work put into the on-field entertainment that takes place in between the innings for the fans. The team's mascot, Scooter the Holy Cow is the recognizable face of the franchise and all of the children want to take a picture with the lovable mascot.

As a lifelong baseball fan, it was great to see potential prospects play on a daily basis. You never know where the next Major Leaguer could be. A few players stood out from the rest but the work ethic of the entire team to improve everyday was inspiring. The SI Yankees team manager, Justin Pope, stressed that the pre-game work the players put it is vital to on the field success. During every post-game interview, Pope talked about the amount of work his team was putting in.

Without question my favorite part of the internship was interviewing the players after each game. Along with the other members of the media, we would speak to Pope first about what he liked and disliked about the game. Then, we would usually interview the player of the game, whether it was the starting pitcher of the guy who got the game-winning hit. My favorite interviews were the in-depth player interviews that would lead to a feature story on the team's web-site. My first feature was on outfielder Taylor Dugas, a rookie from the University of Alabama.

With each interview I did, I felt they were getting stronger and I was asking much better questions. While some players were surprised to have so much media at each game they got more comfortable as the season progressed. Since I was the team's intern, I had access to the clubhouse before each game. In that time I grew close to the team and everyone knew I was either ready to interview one of them or pick two players to sign autographs for the fans before the game.

My favorite player interview was one of the catchers on the team, Wes Wilson. While Wilson didn't get too much playing time, he was the most lively and charismatic player on the team. It was his second year with the SI Yankees, so he became the unofficial leader of the guys. Wilson always had the guys loose and ready to play. Whether it was cracking jokes or playing "R&B Love Songs" to get the team pumped before the game. Let's just say some of the players didn't approve of his music selection. The whole organization loved Wilson and his personality. He plans to run for President in 2048.

While the team was eliminated from playoff contention early, it did not stop these guys. They finished 14-6 in their final 20 games to finish in third place, after being in last for the majority of the year. For most of the team it was their first season as professional ballplayers. It took a toll on them physically and emotionally, as they were away from their families for months. Road trips were another first for the team as sometimes they had to travel eight hours on the team bus to play their next game.

Eventually, I would like to become a beat reporter for any team in Major League Baseball. My time spent with the SI Yankees was a great first step in my writing career. I saw that fans, even though it was minor league baseball, come out and support the Baby Bombers. If the cross-borough Brooklyn Cyclones were in town, the Mets-Yankees rivalry was still intense. The fans took pleasure in seeing their team perform and steal victories from each other. The hardest part of the job was dealing with the team after a tough loss. Most of them loved to talk to the media, but I saw they were much more responsive after a big win, which is expected.

My experience with the organization was invaluable. Thank you to the SI Yankees and the organization for hiring me this summer. Yankees fans should be excited as there are many prospects coming through the ranks and could end up in the Bronx one day.

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