2013 Recap

It’s World Series time. And it’s the end of the inaugural season for Experience Baseball. We laughed, we cried, we hugged. Now we assess.

From the beginning of the year, we began a process to answer the question, “How can baseball fans help to support urban community development?” (Why we would do this isn’t a question: Because we can and because we should.)

Experience Baseball Chicago

Unloading in Chicago in July with the Experience Baseball banner.

Our goal going into this season was essentially: To figure out what we’re trying to do and to figure out how we’re gonna do it.

Between June and July, Experience Baseball shared a couple of baseball stories with fans in Kansas City and Chicago. Both story-telling events revolved around the history of the Negro Leagues and baseball’s integration in each city. Both events were told by fantastic researchers in fantastic “backstage” stadium conference rooms at “the K” and “the Cell.” Both were catered by local BBQ joints. One event especially also relayed a gripping story of struggle and hope and love and baseball in one underdeveloped urban neighborhood. One was able to raise some modest means to support the incredible people who are giving their future generations a fighting chance.

We got to take in a couple good games this year and to hang out with a so many passionate baseball fans like us, passionate not just for the game we love but about improving the communities around us. Our young team got the chance to present our organization at some high profile events like an academic conference in Louisville and the MLB-sponsored Business Summit in Houston. We even got a little press.

Most importantly, we met some incredible people who are doing some incredible things in their communities. And if we met any disappointment at all this summer it was at the frustrating realization that we couldn’t do more to help these communities and the efforts of their most passionate assets. Not yet anyway.

A few things we learned:

Experience Baseball Chicago

Experience Baseball was at U.S. Cellular Field in July.

If you dropped by the website this past March you read about our plan for day-long community bus tours through historic urban baseball neighborhoods like 18th and Vine in Kansas City and Bronzeville in Chicago. It turns out folks don’t have a lot of time (not to mention energy) to devote to day-long immersion tours. Seems most of us busy baseball fans much prefer a more intimate space and networking with colleagues and peers. We like being treated well and we love free game tickets, especially if we can score some box seats or even a press box. We definitely appreciate the “behind the scenes stuff,” like back door stadium access and the chance to wear lanyards with name tags containing the phrase “VIP Pass.” And we like knowing our time and our money is going to a good cause.

We also learned a little more about where baseball fans can help to the greatest impact: in knowing; in giving; and in sharing with others the stories we want to tell. All of this will go into our 2014 season planning as we look to significantly improve on our pilot season.

about Experience Baseball

Nori and Courtney from Experience Baseball, at a fundraiser at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago.

All in all, we think EB was pretty successful in 2013 when you consider that it didn’t exist a year ago and for the reason that we’re able to answer more definitively what we’re trying to do and how we’re gonna do it. This offseason will be busy nailing down each of the next several steps, our educational and development goals, and where we see ourselves in five years. Enjoy this World Series with us. Here’s hoping Game Two tonight is a little more fun to watch than Game One.