Minor League Baseball prioritizes the ballpark experience.
Enhancing the ballpark experience is in WVU graduate Vince Marcucci’s job description. Marcucci serves as director of corporate and community affairs for the New York Yankees’ Double-A affiliate, the Trenton Thunder.
“The difference between the Majors and Minors is how hands on you have to be in every single department,” Marcucci said. “In the minors, everyone from the interns to the GM pulls tarp when it rains. If we have long lines at the concession stands, you can hop behind the counter and help scoop ice cream and water ice.
“However, I also have the pleasure of knowing almost all of our season ticket holders and plan holders on a first name basis. Some even bring you cookies or cake throughout the season.”
One of Marcucci’s favorite aspects of working in the minor leagues is getting the opportunity to watch players improve and move through the system. The Trenton Thunder has rostered some familiar names over the years. Of note, WVU Baseball alums Billy Fleming and Ryan McBroom, current Yankee stand-out Aaron Judge, and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson have all worn the navy, gold, and silver.
“I did not have an allegiance to the Yankees prior to working at the Thunder, but when you work with Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, Gleyber Torres and so many more, it’s hard to not to hope for them to succeed when they get to the big leagues,” Marcucci said.
Marcucci jumped into the sports business world as a marketing intern for the Wilmington Blue Rocks, the Single-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. When the team offered him a job, Marcucci took a break from WVU for one season, but soon returned to complete his degree.
After graduating from WVU in 2014 with a Bachelor’s in Sport Management and a minor in Sport and Exercise Psychology, he was hired by the Trenton Thunder through an application posted on teamworkonline.com.
Marcucci says that although being surrounded by baseball is the dream, the minor league experience is so much more than that.
“The thing I’m most proud of with my job is my involvement with Vs. Cancer,” Marcucci said. “I’ve shaved my head four times to raise for pediatric cancer research and I’ve overseen almost $75,000 in donations being contributed to the cause.”
“The coolest thing I’ve done was flying in a helicopter over the ballpark last year to throw tennis balls out and into kiddie pools on the field as part of a FOX Philadelphia sponsorship.”
Where there are tennis balls, there are dogs, and the Trenton Thunder is one of only three minor league teams in the country to add bat dogs to the game. The Trenton Thunder, the United Shore Professional Baseball League, and the Las Vegas 51s, the Triple-A New York Mets affiliate all use bat dogs to enhance the ballpark atmosphere. The Trenton Thunder recently mourned the passing of long-time bat dog, Derby, during the off-season. They are already working with Rookie, the newest furry member of the team.
“Rookie is my favorite coworker,” Marcucci said. “Long days and nights are easier to handle when a golden retriever brings a tennis ball to your desk to play fetch.”
ESPN produced an E60 on the bat dogs: http://www.espn.com/video/clip?id=13560906
“Trenton is a city that has great potential and I love being with a team that can be a vehicle for change in our community,” Marcucci said.