Check out Sports Tuesday with Host Steve Manderson as he welcomes Sports Author Bill Geivett into the studio to discuss his book “Do You Want to Work in Baseball?”
Like most professions, getting that first job with Major League Baseball can be a daunting task. Not only does a person need to have all the skills, contacts and education necessary to stand out, a candidate needs to have a clear expectation of where his or her career in the game will go. This excellent book by Bill Geivett will give the reader advice and guidance in order to pursue a career in the game.
Drawing off his extensive experience as a scout and director for nearly every level of the game, Geivett doesn’t just tell the reader what he or she needs to get that first interview or to land an entry level position. He also provides inside information how what major league clubs evaluate and develop players so that the team will eventually become a championship club. By providing the details of how teams break down players during their development, Geivett shares valuable information and lessons he learned to people who have aspirations to work for a club.
There are three main sections to the book. In the first, Geivett provides many tips and requirements a person needs to secure and be successful in an interview. He explains how that first job is just that – a first job toward the eventual career goals that candidates must determine for themselves. He then provides the details of the two major areas of employment opportunities – scouting and player development.
In both of these areas, Geivett mixes analysis of the tools used by these areas, detailed analysis of how players are graded in all areas (both pitchers and position players) and how weaknesses of players can be overcome with strength in other areas. In the end, it will be up to the scout or player development staff member to determine how he or she will use all this data and information to grade out a player. While he also shares many stories about his work with players such as Shane Victornio and Vinny Castilla, he does end each of these sections with a challenge to the reader to use these pages in his or her own way to grade each player.
This book is a must-read for any person who is interested in a career in baseball without becoming a player. In fact, some of the advice in the first section is valuable for anyone who is seeking employment in any field. The only thing that is close to negative that I can say about this book is that I wish it had been published about 35 years earlier – if that had happened, my career path would have certainly taken a different turn!
BG: I think it would have been very helpful. This book is really written by a lot of people. I’ve organized the information that I learned over the course of my career and put it all together.
There’s a lot of books that tell stories, but as far as the mechanics and technical aspects, there’s not a lot of books that really do that. So, I had to put it in a way that people would want to read it and not feel intimidated by the length. I want them to be able to read it and gain some knowledge.
JB: For a career in sports as an athlete you have to be born with the physical ability to perform that sport at a high level, but when it comes to working in the front office, these skills can be taught. Isn’t that right?
BG: No doubt, but you have to have a base of knowledge in today’s world in terms of statistical analysis, and that’s the plus you’re looking for. You have to have tangible evidence. You can, I would say, conform your knowledge to how they like to look at things, and what the pervading thought is in the front office now. You get to tailor your skills to be able to adapt to the way they like to do things, and that’s the biggest part. People are going to get a job [in baseball] because somebody feels like they’re a prospect that can come in and be able to do the job eventually. They don’t look at anybody as being hired for their first job as a baseball savior. They want them to be able to contribute right away, and to be able to contribute right away it’s going to be through the statistical analysis type of positions.
JB: Have we got to a point where baseball has taken out so much of the subjective aspect of evaluating talent, and are now relying heavily on computer programs and analysis?
BG: I don’t think so, I think it’s just adding to it. That’s where people to me misunderstand what’s going on. All of this is just adding to more information to help make decisions, where some people might feel intimidated by it, because they don’t understand it, so they are almost in a defensive posture instead of using it as more information to make decisions.
JB: This is a textbook for young people who would like a career in baseball, but it’s also written in a way that baseball fans of any age can get a better understanding of how the business of baseball operates. What kind of feedback have you received from those who have read the book?
BG: The feedback has been great, even on Amazon. I’ve been overwhelmed and humbled. Students have been great because they tell me they just don’t learn this type of stuff in their course work in college. One guy said, ‘we’ve had workshops but they never really explained some of this stuff.’ Baseball fans have been really happy with it because they never really understood about scouting. They just thought a guy wore a fishing hat, watched games, and some how he could tell through his Magic 8-Ball if a guy could play or not, just by looking at him. But, there’s a really an intricate process involved to figure out if this guy could play at the Major League level.
JB: Who influenced you in your transition from player to scouting to front office?
BG: I left coaching at Long Beach State and took a pay cut to become a scout with the Yankees, because I wanted to be around pro baseball. That’s where I met Bill Livesey, the Yankees scouting director at the time, and without him I don’t think I would have had any of the jobs I had or be able to write a book about it. After leaving the Yankees and going to Montreal to be their farm [minor league] director, my first front office position, I worked with Expos manager Felipe Alou. Those two guys really set the foundation for me; Felipe in terms of the Major League level and on the field, Bill Livesey with scouting and player development. I don’t know how anybody can get any better than those two, and they’re both really good teachers, too.
JB: Many of us here in Tulsa got to know you during your days as assistant general manager for the Colorado Rockies, when the Rockies were the parent-cub of the Tulsa Drillers. What was that time in your career like for you?
BG: It was great, I’ve always loved Tulsa. The late Went Hubbard, former Drillers owner, was great to me. That made it even better, knowing I was going to a city where I really love the people there. I played in the Texas League a long time ago, but as a player I never really got a feel for the city or how much the city loved the Drillers and the history of the team, until I got a front office position with the Rockies.
As someone who has worked in minor league baseball practically all my life, since I was a batboy for the Jamestown Expos, I can tell you I wish I had read this book 30 years ago. Geivett’s book, Do You Want to Work in Baseball? is available on amazon.com and at his web site; www.insidebaseballoperations.com.
According to Dodger great Tommy Lasorda, you need to give more than your time. You need to give Loyalty, Love, Undying Commitment, Lifelong Gratitude, and most of all, Your Heart!
It takes more than dressing for success, you need to plan for success.
If you haven’t achieved the job you want yet, just remember…
Geivett, in various roles from farm director to assistant general manager, kept close tabs on the Rockies’ prospects in Tulsa.
After resigning from the Rockies’ front office in October 2014, he began writing a book, “Do You Want to Work in Baseball? Inside Baseball Operations,” that was released during the winter. Anyone who wants to break into baseball would be helped by reading the book.
The first seven chapters are primarily focused on how to get a job in baseball and what it’s like when you get that job. Four chapters are devoted to scouting and the final seven before the conclusion are on player development and how to build a championship team.
The book will help fans understand better why some decisions are made by teams, regarding personnel in general and during minor league games where strategy can be much different than in the majors due to player development considerations, such as why a pinch-hitter isn’t used in what would appear to be an obvious pinch-hitting situation.
Geivett, 53, broke into pro baseball as a player in the California Angels organization from 1985-88 and played against the Drillers. He was a scout for the New York Yankees and also worked for the Montreal Expos, Tampa Bay and Los Angeles Dodgers before joining the Rockies in 2000. He lives in Arizona and is a baseball and business consultant.
The website, www.insidebaseballoperations.com, has information on how to purchase the book.
Below is a Q&A with Geivett:
What inspired you to write this book?
“Whenever I’d go to a game, even when I first started scouting, I was often asked, ‘How do you get a job in baseball?’ ”
Why did you include your Astros interview?
“I had never heard anybody talk about what happened in an interview for a GM job, just whether they got the job or not, so I wanted to tell the story and what I learned. After my first interview with Montreal in ’94, I had never had to interview — Tampa Bay, Los Angeles and Colorado had come and got me. I wasn’t going to sugar coat anything. I thought I was well prepared for any questions that would be asked (by Astros owner Jim Crane). But instead he said, “What do you want to tell me?” I wasn’t prepared for that. The big lesson I learned is to have your presentation ready as if you aren’t going to be asked any questions. Many of the lessons in the book are applicable outside baseball.There’s really something in there for everybody. I had a federal judge tell me it’s basically a business book.”
And you also learned from that Astros meeting never to wear cuff links to a job interview?
“Yes (with a laugh), I took off my (suit) jacket, my cuff link got caught in the lining. (As the jacket came off, the ripped fabric hung from the open sleeve).”
You gave Alex Rodriguez an OFP (Offensive Future Potential) score of 64 in a scouting report (included in the book) that you filed for the Yankees when he was 17 and still in high school in 1993. What can we learn from that report?
“I knew I was looking at an athlete with a lot of strength. A 56 was a first-round candidate. I was a little light with the 64. I wanted to raise it, but a 64 was the highest I had ever given an amateur player. I wanted to put him at 68. That still bothers me today.”
Who are some of the prospects that were with the Drillers who really stood out and you knew were going to be really good in the majors?
“Tulo (Troy Tulowitzki) we saw early at Long Beach State and we didn’t think would be still around for us to draft (at No. 7 in 2005). Ubaldo Jimenez. Matt Holliday at the end of his time in Tulsa started to come on and really took off in the (Arizona) Fall League. I don’t think anyone questioned he would play in the majors, we just didn’t know how impactful he would be. Jeff Francis was so dominant at Tulsa. Nolan Arenado was loved by our scouts. He was so good physically, but still maturing. We always liked him and knew he could hit, but defensively he was better than anyone expected in high school. He’s one of the best players in the big leagues. He doesn’t get the accolades that some others get because he doesn’t play on either coast.”
Who was the most pleasant surprise among those who played with the Drillers?
“Ryan Spilborghs, not just that he made the big leagues, but all the success he had. With his infectious personality, everyone in player development was rooting for Spilly.”
Q: Are you surprised that (former Oral Roberts and Drillers infielder) Doug Bernier is still playing in his 16th pro season after you signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2002?
A: “If you read the book you can figure out how that can happen. He’s the type of guy who excels on defense up the middle and you’ve got a chance if you can do that, no matter what you hit.”
Do you have a favorite memory from your trips to Tulsa?
“What I recall most are the times I spent with (former Drillers owner) Went Hubbard. He was a great man. I remember our lunches and talking to him about baseball and how much he loved the game and how he loved baseball in Tulsa, and he wasn’t even from Tulsa. Baseball means a lot to Tulsa and Went is a huge part of that.”
Q: Was the Rockies’ pennant in 2007 the highlight of your career?
A: “My biggest thrill was every single time we had a player get to go to the big leagues for the first time. It’s not just an achievement for that player, but for their entire family. There is so much a player has to go through to get there and to play a little part in that special time in their life is a thrill. Working in the minor leagues is really my favorite place to be, helping younger guys fulfill their dream.”
Great time talking to Marty Lurie on the San Francisco Giants Pregame Show on KNBR 680.