What’s Next

“If you don’t know where you’re going, how you gonna’ know when you get there?” – Yogi Berra

The mission of Experience Baseball—the purpose for which we incorporated and the drive that gets us out of bed every morning—is to improve the quality of life in neighborhoods home to pro ball. (Again, “why” is not a question we ask: Because we can.)

Baseball for Community Development; it’s gonna be huge. The goal has always been thoughtful development and quality of life improvement in urban neighborhoods. But we’re not naive to the fact that this will take some serious long-term, sustainable efforts. And we have a fantastic three-pronged approach to see this development through for the long haul.

Prong the First: “To provide a quality educational experience for baseball fans.”

As this is a movement that has always revolved around the participation of fans, we will make sure that fans are comfortable and happy, and that they’ll keep coming back. We’ll take what we learned about us baseball fans in 2013 and make each future event something wholly unique and special. We’ll up the ante on the aesthetic and provide even more VIP perks like press boxes, access to teams, and unsurpassed educational presentations from leading baseball researchers and journalists.

Prong the Second: “To support local Community Development Corporations in urban baseball neighborhoods.”

While we’re telling stories about our baseball heroes and favorite clubs, we’ll meet face-to-face the women and men struggling against social issues like underfunded schools, gang violence, food deserts, poor health care options, a funky criminal justice system, homelessness, disproportionate underemployment, or a nonexistent urban economy. The women and men we meet are baseball fans like us—most living directly in the path of our stadiums’ shadows—who don’t always know when their next payday is, let alone where they can find a summer game ticket. They are leaders in their communities, “existing community assets” who reject the systems they’ve been born into and lead grassroots community efforts to transform their neighborhoods for the benefit of young people and future generations. We will meet these incredible people, hear their stories, and come together to support their efforts to help themselves.

Prong the Third: “To develop thoughtful young professionals and future leaders within the baseball and sports industries.”

This is an internal motivation. To create a movement that lasts longer than we do we’ll have to work to support development from the inside, as much as from the outside. As EB grows to reach out to every pro ball community we will build a team and a network of young professionals, student interns, and volunteers who aspire to careers in baseball and sports industries, sport philanthropy, social entrepreneurship, or the burgeoning academic focus on Sport for Development. By slowly nurturing the industry pipeline with thoughtful, future baseball and sport philanthropists we’ll increase the network of supporters on the inside as well as the outside to advance the exponential growth of the movement for a more comprehensive baseball community development.

Expansion happens slowly and with a lot of care. There’s an axiom somewhere that goes something like this: “A new fire only has two ways to go: It can grow or it can die out.” We’re going to grow. 

In a nutshell, we’ll focus next season on a five-city spread: Kansas City, Chicago (White Sox), Minneapolis, Detroit, and Cleveland. We’re already at work to begin planning out a series of 10-15 events for fans in each of these cities in 2014, with the help and support of each of the five clubs. We’ll increase our support for grassroots development organizations in these spaces. And we’ll continue to train our team of young baseball professionals.

And we’ll continue to use this space online to share and to report what we’re doing in an effort for transparency and trust. If you have questions about how to get involved in 2014, please feel free to contact me directly: tobias@experiencebaseball.org.