4 Lessons from My Failed Attempt at Owning a Baseball Team
Originally posted on Linked in by Dustin McKissen
I have figured out several ways to waste money in my life. I once fulfilled a dream of owning a Jeep Wrangler when I purchased one for $5,000—using a performance bonus—only to sell it a few weeks later for $2,000. I started and dropped out of a PhD program after one semester when I realized that having my brother call me “Doctor” was not motivation enough to slog through advanced research classes.
But the craziest way I ever wasted money was when I made a small investment in the Yuma (Arizona) Scorpions and spent a week learning the life of an independent minor league baseball General Manager. My plan was to learn a little about the business of minor and independent league baseball, in case I ever wanted to own my own team one day.
That sounds crazy, but I am a bit of a dreamer, and I’m okay with that.
Though it took a while not to feel the sting of the lost investment, here is what I learned from my week in Yuma:
1. Before relocating, carefully research your destination.
Even if you are just relocating for a week. I packed up my whole family and took them to stay in a Best Western hotel in one of the worst cities in the country (no offense to anyone reading this from Yuma). My wife has supported some crazy dreams of mine, and accompanied me on a move across the country, but looking back on 11 years of marriage, moving to Yuma for a week in June just might be the greatest example of unconditional love. On average the hottest city in the entire nation, the most flattering description of Yuma in the summer is a sand-blasted moonscape unsuitable for human habitation.
It’s hot—really hot.
In addition to lessons learned about relocation and how much Taco Bell one family can eat during a week before they suffer collective gastrointestinal breakdown, I also learned how much my wife really loves me.
2. Understand a company’s customer base before you invest.
I have been to minor league parks, but never an independent minor league park in Yuma, Arizona, in June. When I showed up for the first game there were a smattering of fans—maybe 100, max. Every game that week had about the same number of attendees. It turns out that locating your team in a sand-blasted moonscape where the nighttime temperature can exceed 110 degrees does have an impact on attendance.
The company had no customers.
3. Do not get blinded by fancy titles.
My point of contact for the Scorpions was the General Manager. Before I packed up my entire family and headed to Yuma I had some pretty romantic notions of what the life of a minor league General Manager was like.
I learned that week that the job has very little to do with actual baseball. The GM was a combination salesman, maintenance man, and babysitter. This GM’s babysitting duties were particularly challenging, given that that year (2011) Jose Canseco was a player/manager, and was joined by his brother Ozzie Canseco.
Needless to say, those Conseco boys can get up to the dickens.
Part of the GM’s job was making sure they didn’t end up in jail–something that has historically proven to be a challenge for the Consecos.
My most memorable Conseco moment involved spending time in the dugout with Jose’s teenage daughter, who explained to me the visitation schedule she had with her dad.
Surreal doesn’t even begin to describe it.
4. Doing something way out of the box can teach you what you don’t want to do in your career.
After all of that, the team changed ownership, folded, and the GM moved on.
I learned a lot that week about a career I don’t want.
I am the Vice President of First Resource, an association management, economic development, and public policy consulting firm with roots in the manufacturing sector, and a proud member of LinkedIn’s Publishers and Bloggers Group. You can find me on Twitter@DMcKissen.