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There's nothing like the Winter Meetings

by Will Lingo
December 8, 2005

Christmas always comes early for Baseball America.

That's because we get to go to the Winter Meetings every year and pickle ourselves in baseball for three or four days while most of the country battles through cold weather to get to their jobs or complete some delightful holiday shopping.

The Winter Meetings are a great event for anyone who enjoys baseball, what with most of the significant decision-makers in the game gathering in one place. Walking through the hotel lobby, you never know who you might run into.

But the meetings are particularly enjoyable for us in the BA world because it's a chance for us to shine and see the industry on so many different levels.

We send nearly half of our workforce to the meetings in any given year. Granted, we're not a multinational conglomerate, but that's a significant commitment to one event for a small company.

It makes sense, though. After all, we are BASEBALL America. And we might be the only organization that cares about everything going on at the meetings.

We like to be there from a news perspective because a lot of stuff is going on, even beyond the megadeals that are announced at press conferences, and we like to let you know about it. The Rule 5 draft is probably the most notable example of a perfect BA news event, but we also will have someone standing outside the South Atlantic League meeting to find out after it's over if anything has happened.

We like to be there from a sales perspective because so many of our clients and potential clients are there, either at the trade show or at one of the other events going on all week. If you've never seen our publisher Lee Folger and director of display advertising Keith Dangel work the convention floor, then you've missed some of the best action at the meetings. And if you've never been handed a business card by Lee, then you just haven't stood still long enough.

BA's Time To Shine

And we just like to be at the Winter Meetings from a business of baseball perspective. Everyone in the industry and connected to the industry is there, so even if we don't have a direct business relationship it's great to rub elbows with everyone and renew old acquaintances. So many people in the game see each other only once a year, and it's at the Winter Meetings.

The other great thing about the meetings is that Baseball America gets to take center stage a little bit. You might think we're a huge company based here in BA Towers, but in actuality we're a small but merry band of hard-working people who crank out a lot more great products than seems possible.

At the Winter Meetings, we get to celebrate our position in the industry. With a big, prominent outpost at the trade show, our booth is a gathering place for people who are walking through checking out the latest wares. You never know when a major league general manager, a minor league owner or an anxious job seeker is going to stop by to chat.

And the BA Awards Gala, now in its fifth year, has become a major event on the Winter Meetings calendar. No other event brings together people from every level of baseball, from youth to high school to college to the minors to the majors. From our humble first event in Boston, the gala has grown into a huge gathering that gives us an opportunity to recognize some of the great people that make baseball such an entertaining business.

Back To Big D

The meetings are in Dallas this year, which always makes me nostalgic because it was the site of my first Winter Meetings back in 1994. That was in the midst of the strike, of course, so virtually no major league people were there and the general mood was dour. The highlight of the trip may have been visiting the Texas Book Depository and checking out the spot where Lee Harvey Oswald supposedly sat when he shot John F. Kennedy.

We came back to Dallas in 2000, when the mood was notably more exuberant. Alex Rodriguez signed his crazy contract with the Rangers, and the Rockies made a splash with their signings of Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle, among the more memorable horrible deals that came out of those few days in Dallas.

Dallas is also notable as the birthplace of the Breakfast Club, the longtime gathering of friends and hangers-on organized by former BA publisher Dave Chase, who is now GM of the Memphis Redbirds.

Chase is coming up on his 30th Winter Meetings, and you can join him for coffee and a Grand Slam breakfast too if you get to the Denny's across from the Wyndham Anatole by sunup each day. We're going to ask the manager if we can install a plaque there this year.

And we haven't even had a chance to explore the singular experience that is the Winter Meetings lobby bar scene each night. You'll just have to come and see that for yourself.

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