Four Steps To Getting A Job In Baseball
If you’re an 18-year-old who wants to work in baseball, here’s a straightforward gameplan.
There are no guaranteed ways to get a job in baseball unless you have a family member who owns a team. But if you can do these four steps, you will put yourself in excellent shape to land a job with a Major League Baseball team. As one front office executive said to me after I described this plan, “If I could find that unicorn, yes, we’d hire them.”
It’s not an easy path, but it is doable for someone with desire, intelligence and a willingness to work.
- Go to college.
At this point, this is a starting point for just about any job in baseball. Teams do often favor hiring Ivy League graduates, but if you follow this plan, it shouldn’t really matter whether you go to an Ivy League school, a major Division I program or a much smaller, less nationally recognized program.
- Learn to speak Spanish fluently.
One of the best ways a potential hire can distinguish themselves among the thousands of baseball job seekers is to be able to converse in Spanish. Baseball in 2018 is an international game. Having Spanish fluency opens up job opportunities that simply aren’t available to non-Spanish speakers (working at a team complex in the Dominican Republic, for example) and also is very helpful in working with players.
- Become very comfortable working with Python and/or (preferably and) R.
The days of being an Excel wizard who works in baseball analytics are largely over. The datasets are too large and Excel is too limited. Nowadays, Python and R are the useful starting points to being able to work in baseball analytics. If one lands a job working in analytics, this is likely only the starting point, but having a comfort level working with Python and R will show that one has the programming ability to pick up further languages/programs as they are needed.
- Work with your university’s baseball team.
If you have begun working on steps two and three on this list, you will likely be welcomed with open arms if you are willing to volunteer as a student assistant for your school’s college baseball team.
College baseball has become much more analytically inclined at many schools over the past few seasons, and there are plenty of opportunities for work.
No matter where you go, there is a solid chance that the program can use help with charting pitches, or running the Trackman program, or analyzing HitTrax, FlightScope or other workout data, or charting opponents for advance scouting. The opportunities/possibilities are almost limitless. What you are looking to do is to offer the coaching staff the ability to do work that will help them do their jobs.
If you are headed to a program that already is working in analytics, they are almost always looking for help and you will get a chance to learn from a baseball operations person or an upperclassman who is already doing much of what you want to learn.
If you are at a school that doesn’t have an analytics group working with the baseball team, there’s the opportunity to get in on the ground floor and build out such a program.
Working hands-on with a baseball team is a key step. Getting hands-on experience will allow you to develop your skills much more quickly than if you’re trying to learn from the outside. It will also show teams both your skills and your willingness to work.
Having significant experience working with a college team (on top of the programming/language skills you have also acquired) will make you stand above the crowd looking to work in baseball when you graduate.
Now, here's the unfortunate reality. Even after doing all the steps, the path to a long-term career in baseball is extremely difficult. Every year, thousands of 22- and 23-year-olds are looking to get into the game. Very few people are looking to get out of a baseball front office in a given year. The turnover is constant, and because so many people want to work in baseball, the pay for entry-level jobs (and even moreso for internships) is much lower than it is for comparable jobs outside of baseball.