“There is no underestimating the power of networking. In this industry, a lot of it is who you know,” says Charlie Vascellaro. Charlie is a man who used to dress up in a cape and tights, calling himself, “The Wizard of Waste” in Fountain Hills, Arizona.
Wizard of Waste is a trash hauling and furniture moving business that Charlie started while studying for a Bachelor’s Degree at Arizona State University. His major was journalism, and it would lead to his current position, touring minor league ballparks throughout the country during the baseball season with the Babe Ruth Traveling Museum Exhibit.
During his days at ASU, Vascellaro began his career as an intern for the Scottsdale Progress newspaper. “After my internship was complete, I stayed on every semester that I was at ASU as a part-time writer.” That led to becoming the beat writer for the Phoenix Firebirds, a minor league affiliate for the San Francisco Giants, in their 1992 season.
Charlie knew he wanted to work in the baseball business in some way as far back as he can remember. “I had the same basic love for baseball that a lot of people have, but I wanted to get more involved with it. I wanted to be closer to it,” said Vascellaro. “Like any kid who plays, you want to play first. Then the reality sets in the first time you get cut from a team, and you realize, what else can I do to be around this game if they are not going to let me play it?”
He had a lot of ideas about different types of baseball jobs, and always managed to stay close to the game in some way. “I coached and umpired Little League for 13 years, and played men’s softball too. Even though I always had the fascination (to work in sports) as a kid, men’s softball was a primary vehicle in this decision to pursue journalism.”
As for how softball played a part in his decision, Charlie explained, “When I started playing men’s softball and the Fountain Hills Times asked us to turn in the scores of the games, that is when I started writing baseball stories every day. I would turn those into The Times and the guys loved reading them. They loved seeing their name in the paper. A lot of people started encouraging me at that point to take it further.”
Take it further he did. Charlie was working as a freelance writer for a local magazine called Cigar Lovers. The magazine does not exist anymore, but it provided yet another stepping stone for Vascellaro. “They had different areas they were targeting to sell the magazine. They were working on a Baltimore, DC issue, and I proposed the idea of going there to cover the Babe Ruth Museum’s Annual Birthday Bash. It was a big cigar smoking event at a Cuban restaurant called the Havana Club.”
It was at that party that Charlie met Peter Kirk, the owner of three Baltimore Orioles affiliates in that area. “We had a drink together at the party and got to know each other a little. I was also working for Arizona State University putting on a baseball conference at the time.” The two exchanged business cards.
The meeting itself did not lead to anything right away, but Charlie was on top of things and did not forget who he had talked to. “I was a reader of all the baseball magazines, particularly Baseball America, and I kept seeing this guys (Kirk) name and face in the stories of Baseball America.”
Rather than wait for him to call, Charlie was proactive. “I thought, he’s a busy guy and has a lot going on, maybe I should give him a call and see if needs someone to come and work for him. Sure enough he did.”
From there, the next step was the Babe Ruth Museum. “Living in Baltimore and working for the minor league teams in the Orioles system for a couple of years, I developed a relationship with the museum,” said Charlie. “It‘s about two miles from where I live, and it’s a great place that I have taken anyone that has come to visit me in Baltimore.”
It was during just such a trip that Vascellaro learned of the opening. “We were downstairs in the basement at the museum; I was talking to my friend, the curator. He was talking about the upcoming season for the traveling exhibit and how they got a big corporate sponsor to take it around, and the only thing they didn’t have was a driver.”
Vascellaro knew he was going to want this job before his friend even finished the sentence. “He wasn’t really asking me if I wanted a job, he was just telling me about it and I said, “I’m your man”, as soon as he said it. He said, “It doesn’t pay much.” I said, “You mean it pays?” “You mean you’re going to give me money for this?”
This leads to Charlie’s advice if you are looking to “Work in Sports”. “You better really love it, because you are not going to make a lot of money right away. You have to love hanging around the stadium or field.”
Attitude and contact are also key parts of finding a job. “Stay friendly and follow up. If you get somebody’s card, write them a note every so often and let them know that you remember who they are. Collect people’s business cards and stay in touch with them.”