The path to Associate Director of Business Development for USA Baseball began with employment by a trading card company in Tucson, Arizona for Dave Perkins. Initially, Perkins was not sure where his college education in finance was going to lead him. “After I had worked in the trading card industry for a couple of years, I thought maybe sports was an interest for me”, he said.
At age 25, Perkins is a graduate of the University of Arizona in Tucson with a degree in finance. The fact that his current employer, USA Baseball, is based in Tucson is a perfect fit for the Arizona native.
During his tenure at the U of A, Perkins became involved in a program called the Sports Marketing Association (SMA). This was a group of about 15-20 individuals who were interested in a career in sports. “The assistant director of marketing and promotions at the U of A set up this group of students to provide volunteers for her when they were running events. It was an opportunity for us to get hands-on event experience as well as an opportunity for them to get some volunteers to work their different events.”
In his first summer after serving as a volunteer in the SMA, Perkins landed his internship at USA Baseball and worked with the Junior Olympic Program. Eventually, he took over licensing and merchandising duties while still a student at the U of A. After that, explains Perkins, “they say around the office, I just never left.”
Heather Morris, now in the marketing office of Arizona State University, saw promise in what Dave had to offer, and helped him get on track to where he is today. “She is the one who originally got me involved in the SMA at the University of Arizona. She also played a large role in getting my internship with USA Baseball that first year.”
After spending about 18 months as an intern, a change happened in USA Baseball that would further help Perkins establish his career. “In October of 1999 the USA Baseball Board of Directors hired a new CEO for the organization.” Having been hired from within the organization, the new CEO knew Perkins from his internship which was due for completion in December. When the internship was completed, he became a full-time employee in January of 2000.
USA Baseball is a non-profit organization, and while professional teams purchase their own uniforms and equipment, USA Baseball relies completely on donations. Building relationships with national companies is what Perkins focuses on during the off season when the teams are not competing. “My job is to make contact with them (national companies) and present them with opportunities for sponsorships and supplierships with USA Baseball”, Perkins said. “A lot of our sponsorships are driven through the Olympic Committee itself, so we have a lot of the same sponsors. The whole crux of what we’re selling is the Olympic Baseball team.”
During the summer when the teams are playing, the job switches to handling operations with the team and the events that are going on. “Typically, we get a lot of sponsors who come and visit us during those times so they can see the events they are sponsoring, so there is a lot of sponsor relations during those times.”
USA Baseball fits snuggly between Little League and Major League Baseball. The most challenging part of the job for Dave Perkins is selling the idea of having players playing on national teams to a potential sponsor. “The significance of having players play on the national teams for their development as baseball players is what the sponsors are buying in to, and that is a difficult thing to sometimes communicate, and that is what we’re striving to do.”
A key factor in the success of working in any business is dedication, but to “Work in Sports”, Perkins says this is the most important detail to focus on. “You have to be willing to put in the time and the hours. You’ve got to be willing to do things in this job that you might not have to do in another job.” He added, “You must always be willing to do what is put in front of you, not to get frustrated or discouraged, but keep working toward your goals.” Most importantly, “be willing to do whatever you are asked to do.”