If you are looking to ‘Work In Sports’, “You have to be open-minded, flexible, be willing to make some sacrifices, and along the way take some chances,” states John Traub, Vice President and General Manager of the Calgary Cannons Baseball Team.
Traub knows first hand about the sacrifices it takes to succeed in the sports industry. A native of Los Angeles, California he began his professional career working with the Anaheim Angels for four season beginning in 1988. An individual in their early twenties working for a professional baseball team in Southern California, what kind of sacrifice is that? Traub replied quickly, “Let’s put it this way, there was never any pay.”
John’s love for the game was the very thing that motivated him to get in the business. “I absolutely love the game of baseball. I was the geeky kid who sat in front of the TV and kept score. I could still tell you the lineup of the 1974 Dodgers.” After graduating from UCLA, he sent a letter to every major league baseball team asking if there was any part-time work or internships that he would qualify for. His objective was just to get his foot in the door, anywhere. “I think in my letters I said I’ll even take out trash.” After receiving replies back from most of the teams saying they were not interested, one day the Angels called, and according to Traub, “it took off from there.”
Working in the sports business is not for everybody, Traub warns. “The first year, it is very much like your freshman year in college. I know when I went to school they were saying something like 50% of freshman didn’t make it to their second year. Working in baseball is very similar because that first year you realize what the hours are, what the workload is, and what the demands are, and the fact that you, that your family and your friends, have to make a lot of sacrifices. For a six month period you don’t see any of these people. It’s not for everyone, and that’s what that first year does. It makes a lot of people realize it’s not for everybody.”
There was no doubt that John knew the game of baseball, but what he learned at the Angels complimented his love for the game with a solid foundation of the roles that the front office plays in the day-to-day operations and success of the entire team.
As mentioned earlier, the ability to be flexible played an important role in the outcome of securing John’s next career opportunity. John and his girlfriend at the time were planning on getting married. “Because the baseball career wasn’t taking off like I wanted it to, we decided to basically pack everything and start fresh. The day after we got married, I looked in the newspaper and saw that the Cannons had just fired their PR Director. I had just completed four years of major league PR experience, so it was very much right place and the right time. So I applied and everything else speaks for itself.”
John started out as the Calgary Cannons PR Director in 1991. Once again, he made the most of his time in his new position and further realized the impact the PR department has with every other department within the organization. Through years of hard work and dedication he moved up through the ranks all the while gaining essential experience he uses to date. Throughout his career John has also held the positions of Director of Public and Media Relations and in 1997 was named Vice President of Baseball Operations. On February 14, 2000, entering his 10th season with the Cannons, Traub was promoted to the position he holds today, Vice President and General Manager.
Acting as the GM is not something Traub saw himself doing when he started with the franchise in 1991. “I kind of gave myself a three to five year plan when I first started here. I didn’t really see myself working for the ball club after five years. It was OK, good experience, but the family had already sacrificed for me, so I said five years and we’ll see what else is out there. Right after that fifth season, some things had changed internally here and then I got a promotion. Some other things happened and it was like wow, all of the sudden, I am not just the guy in charge of writing press releases any more. There was a little more responsibility.”
When asked what it takes to ‘Work In Sports’ and succeed in the industry John responded, “The advice I have is go in there with an open mind, a lot of enthusiasm, and the ability to be persistent. You also have to be able to pick your spots. There’s a big difference between being an annoyance and just being somebody with their mouth closed and their ears open. God gave us two ears and one mouth so we could listen twice as much as we could talk. Somebody told me that when I was first starting out and its true. That was some of the best advice I ever got. Basically just keep quiet and do your job and people will notice. If it is time for people to notice, people will notice.”
John is proof that hard work and dedication pays off when pursuing a job in the exciting sports industry.