A prime example of that is represented in Ryan Cavinder’s story. Who’s Ryan Cavinder? Ryan is a Media Relations Representative with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and he was kind enough to take the time to give us an inside look at what he does, how he got there and what it’s like to be a part of a major league franchise.
Ryan’s family and mine have known each other for years. His grandmother and my mother are like sisters (his dad and I are close in age). I’ve able to follow Ryan’s path to the Angels from afar and was delighted when he agreed to telling his story. So… let’s get to it.
TG: First of all Ryan; I know that you’re an Angels fan. How long have you been a fan of this team and did you have any favorites growing up?
RC: I have been an Angels fan all of my life. I spent most of my childhood in the cheap seats at the Big A with my dad and brother. We would make an annual trip out to spring training with my grandpa and then catch about 20 games or so during the season.
Some of my favorite Angels growing up were Wally Joyner, Luis Polonia, Jim Edmonds and Darin Erstad.
One of my favorite memories comes from one of my all-time favorite Halos. My dad and brother and I would always wait after the games in the parking lot to get players autographs. I was a pretty shy kid, so my brother would get most of the autographs and I’d try my best to follow his lead.
One day Rod Carew, who was the hitting coach at the time, came out and signed a few baseballs on the way to his car. He didn’t have time to sign for everyone, so he said goodbye and left me without an autograph. My brother came away beaming about his signed baseball and I immediately burst into tears.
My dad started to console me as the crowd departed and that’s when I heard a voice from behind me whisper, “Little boy, come here”. There was Rod, waiting to sign my baseball and give me a word of encouragement. Having had the chance to get to know Rod over the past few years has been a special treat for me. He is still the same caring individual he was that evening some 15 years ago.
TG: What is your current role with the Angels and how long have you been doing it?
RC: I am the Media Relations Representative for the Halos and I just finished my third season with the club. My job description covers a wide range of responsibilities, but includes arranging player interviews, producing game information used by writers and broadcasters, traveling with the club on road trips and writing the media guide.
TG: How many people do what you do?
RC: There are four full-time staff members in the Media Relations department, including my boss, V.P. of Communications, Tim Mead. Teamwork is crucial in our department as many of our responsibilities require constant communication.
TG: When did you decide that this was the career path you wanted to pursue?
RC: After finishing my senior season of high school baseball, I realized that I did not want to play ball for a living and to be quite honest I was probably not talented enough any way. I love the game so much and I decided I would do whatever I could to be around it. I had a passion for people and for public relations so I decided my dream job would be in the public relations office for the Angels.
TG: How did you make it happen?
RC: When people ask me this question, my answer is always, “A little bit of hard work and a whole lot of luck”. In all honesty, I worked tirelessly to put myself through school at Chapman University where I received the tools necessary to make it in this business.
I was fortunate enough to build some relationships in my time there and those relationships ended up landing me an internship with the club. Once I had my foot in the door I realized how close I was to my dream. I didn’t let anything stand in the way of me and my dream. Two years as an intern paid off as I was offered my current position at the beginning of this calendar year.
TG: I know you had a lot of different jobs through college and while working as an intern. I think it speaks to your desire to make it in the business you’re in. As you look back on those experiences, do you have any thoughts?
RC: I definitely think the many jobs I worked in college and while interning with the Angels taught me a lot about being dedicated to my dream. I had to make sacrifices to get to where I'm at but every one of them has paid off.
TG: Tell me more about your background; did you play any baseball?
RC: I played baseball at Valley Christian High School, a small high school in Cerritos. Though our school only had about 800 students, we had a very successful baseball program. After a brief stint at the University of Arizona, I wound up at Chapman University where I graduated in 2008 with my B.A. in Public Relations and Advertising.
TG: What is a typical day like for you?
RC: It seems like there is never a typical day here at the ballpark, but for a typical home game I arrive at the ballpark in the morning and begin preparing our game notes. Game notes offer our broadcasters and writers specific stats, trends and interesting notes to use in their articles/broadcasts.
On a typical day, we also are busy setting up interviews for our players, both with Fox Sports West (FSW) as well as with radio stations and writers. The better part of the afternoon is spent in the clubhouse where we are available for the players and the media to fulfill any requests they may have.
During the game, we are in the press box assisting the media with their coverage of the game. I’ll normally leave the ballpark about 30-60 minutes after the conclusion of the game. It makes for a very long day but it is incredibly rewarding.
On the road trips I have many of the same responsibilities; however I am the only one to fulfill those duties so it presents a whole new challenge. The up-side to that are the incredible hotels, chartered flights and amazing cities I am able to visit.
While the team is on the road and I am not with them, we (staff) are preparing for the next home stand and assisting the person from our office that is traveling with game notes and such.
TG: What will you do in the off season?
RC: Baseball’s offseason is very short and once you factor in the beginning of free agency, the winter meetings and the holiday season it’s almost time for spring training!
A large amount of our time in the offseason is spent preparing the coming year’s media guide. This offseason will be special as we will be preparing for the 50th anniversary celebration in 2011. We have a lot of special surprises in store and it’s going to be a very exciting year!
TG: What is your role at spring training?
RC: Many of my responsibilities are the same whether in Tempe or Anaheim, but the environment is much different. For instance, on a typical day in Anaheim we may have between 5-10 player interviews; while in Tempe we can have upwards of 20-30. Spring training is heavily covered by the media due to the fact that there are so many teams within a 15-20 mile radius.
This last spring was my first opportunity to be in Tempe for the entirety of spring training and it was a real treat. The relaxed atmosphere out there provides me a great opportunity to build relationships with our players.
TG: Ryan, you are obviously in a position that a lot of people would love to be in. Have you ever had any “wow” moments where you had to pinch yourself?
RC: There have been countless “wow” moments in my short time with the club, many of which I never even dreamed possible. Celebrating with the team in the clubhouse after clinching division titles in 2008 and 2009 most definitely top that list. Being around such baseball greats such as Rod Carew, Vin Scully and Reggie Jackson has also left me saying, “wow.”
TG: What do you do when you are not absorbed in all things Angels?
RC: It’s difficult to truly separate myself from this club, but when I do - I try to spend as much time as possible with my family and friends. I also love to be outdoors and I have a passion for distance running.
TG: Do you have any advice for people looking for a career in baseball?
RC: Never take no for an answer. Persistence is key to making it in this business. It is crucial in this market to take any job that will get you some experience. If there isn’t a job open; go for an internship. If there isn’t an internship available; volunteer. Much like the challenge the players face, you have to be willing to do it for free and prove yourself before anyone will be willing to pay you.
TG: Angel fans know that Tony Reagins (the current General Manager) started as an intern. I believe the Yankees’ Brian Cashman and Red Sox’s Theo Epstein also started that way. Can you envision yourself as a future GM?
RC: I don't envision myself being a GM one day but I would not rule it out. I love that side of this business and have been inspired by the path Tony took.
TG: Anything you’d like to add? A funny story perhaps? How about your first road trip?
RC: My first road trip was a surreal experience. This is the way to travel. I’m a young guy not far removed from college, so the days spent in European hostels and road tripping in the U.S. aren’t far behind me.
The chartered flights, the hotels and the incredible food (and tons of it) are more than a young guy could ask for. As a matter of fact, I gained six pounds on my first road trip. Six pounds in seven days, while working out! Needless to say, it was on that first trip that I learned how to say no.
The only other thing I would like to add is that if anyone would like to get a hold of me they can feel free to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That concludes our interview. I’d like to thank Ryan for his time and insight.