I don’t care much about autographs. An A’s employee for almost 9 full years, I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of current and former baseball players, such as Lenny Dykstra in a restroom, Mudcat Grant’s chauffeur at a golf tournament. More recently I ran across actors like Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. I didn’t ask for their autographs, they didn’t ask for mine. One day last Spring Training, however, I did ask for an autograph. Hall of Fame Cubs pitcher Ferguson Jenkins visited Phoenix Municipal Stadium to draw awareness and raise funds for his charitable foundation. He’s been to Phoenix Muni multiple times the past couple years. He brings with him former baseball players. On March 27, 2010 he brought Bob Feller.
I wasn’t a sports fan when young. Then, in my teens, I became an A’s fan. Baseball has the greatest history of all American sports. For over a hundred years, thousands of men have taken the field. There’s equally as many stories, some more unique than others. Bob Feller was a unique story. Making his debut for the Cleveland Indians at 17-years-old, he pitched his entire 18-season career with the Indians, which was interrupted by three years of military service. Most astounding to me, he was enshrined in Cooperstown on his first ballot in 1962. For 48 years he lived as an active member of the Hall of Fame.
We were honored to accommodate when Jenkins’ group asked if Feller could throw the ceremonial first pitch. At 91 Feller was unable to walk the stairs to the field. Our stadium operations coordinator offered to drive him around the ballpark and onto the field through the outfield fence. As Feller took the mound he was announced by an exuberant Mark Andrews. To cheers, Feller tipped his cap and fired a strike to home. I would not have believed a man of 91 could do such a thing. In good shape, sharp mind, and kind spirits, Feller talked a bit with guests and staff on field, recorded a short radio interview, and headed off the field on the cart that brought him on. Amazingly, our vintage stadium gate usher, Chet, 90-years-young himself, was at Bob Feller’s 1940 Opening Day no-hitter (his first of three career no-hitters). Chet recounted the events of April 16 in Chicago with Feller, agreeing on the batting order and how the outs were recorded. Chet attended that game rooting for the White Sox. Chet departed the ballpark in 1940 with a lifelong respect for Bob Feller.
As that afternoon’s Spring Training game continued I reflected on Feller’s contributions to the game of baseball. How much he enhanced the game and how much baseball meant to him. I fetched a clean baseball and troubled Bob Feller, with a donation, for an autograph. Sitting in my office, just over my shoulder, it’s the only autograph I keep on display.
Travis LoDolce, Digital Ticketing Operations Manager & Spring Training Operations Manager
(Photos copyright Travis LoDolce)
Miss us? Yeah, we’ve been quiet for a little while. Maybe you thought we took the offseason to lay on a beach in the southern hemisphere. We wish. Many fans often ask what we do during the offseason, assuming we take some time off or work a second job. Nah, we’re full time, year round – and the offseason is when it gets busy! Seriously. The regular season runs so smoothly for us all because of the time we put in during these winter months. Like any event, the setup is the hard part. You ace a test by studying, not sitting down day of and taking it.
Two major projects have engulfed us this offseason. First, we upgraded our ticket interface. Initially, you won’t notice a different when purchasing tickets online or over the phone. Eventually you’ll find advanced improvements to the single game ticket purchase flow. Internally, we’re experiencing a complete change. Our updated Tickets.com web-based software is shiny and new with all sorts of bells and whistles. It’s an adjustment period from our previous system, but it’s great to advance forward.
The second project is the 2011 E-Brochure. We live in the geographical capital of online communication. It’s only natural that we steer away from the printed brochure and move toward majority online communications. Working with Channel 1 Media, an industry leader in online professional sports brochures, we created what we hope is an informative and fun e-brochure where A’s Season Ticket Holders can obtain renewal information and all fans can learn about the schedule, ticket/suite/premium seating options, and promotional item information. Members of the A’s Ticket Operations staff, MLB.com, and Channel 1 Media put a lot of time and effort into the piece. We think it turned out great. You can find a version of it at oaklandathletics.com/2011. If you’re a Season Ticket Holder you’ve already received your email with a personalized URL (and a one page postal mailing directing you of the same web address). We’d love to know what you think of the e-brochure. Feel free to post a comment.
As always, whether it’s the offseason or the middle of a 10 game homestand, we’re here to help you. A’s Ticket Services staff can be reached at (510) 568-5600 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Drop us a line if it moves you.