I’ve been working a big project for a week or so now. I didn’t want to share it with anybody until I got approval or details, but I can’t contain myself any longer!
I was walking into my offseason job at Academy Sports and Outdoors the other day, when I
started thinking. “It’s getting to darn hot for this offseason beard…. too bad I can’t donate it to charity or something.” It’s been hanging around the 70’s and been sunny, here in good ol’ Birmingham, AL, USA.
Later that night, after I got off work, probably around 2am, when I do my best thinking, I came up with a glorious idea. A cross-promotion between my two employers, a new or gently used baseball equipment drive for the Boys & Girls Club / R.B.I. of Birmingham. What the heck does that have to do with a hairy face? I’ll tell ya. The equipment drive in my head had a twist to it. For every X amount of equipment donated, I was going to shave a one inch gash out of the beard. I figure, including the mustache, I had about 12 inches of hairy area. If we had it $500 of gear per inch, I could raise $6000 worth of bats, balls, gloves, bat bags, and other stuff for a fantastic cause.
I’m not a celebrity or local celebrity by any means, but my two jobs give me a level of notoriety. My baseball job is kinda sorta almost a big deal, and my sporting goods retailer job allows me to speak, help, and be recognized by people who come from literally a five counyt area to buy baseball stuff for their children. With some promotion to it, that could get a lot of people off of their behinds to come see the guy with the holey beard, buy stuff, and donate it to the Boys & Girls Club / R.B.I.
I slept on it. I woke up the next morning and thought to myself, “This is either one of the greatest ideas Jeff Perro (I often think to myself in third-person) has ever had, or it’s WAAAAAY out in left field and totally farfetched.”
When I got to work, I pitched it to my department manager.
“This is either one of the greatest ideas Jeff Perro has ever had, or it’s totally farfetched…….”
He loved it! I called a couple of my Barons’ people, they loved it too! Then I pitched to more of
my local Academy people, surprise….. they loved it! The next step was to email the Academy corporate marketing guru. I emailed him a novel late Thursday night, then waited through Friday and the entire weekend for a yay or nay. Finally, he emailed me on Monday.
He loved it too!….. except….. for the whole beard thingy. That’s cool. I just hooked up two humongous sponsors in local Birmingham to start a baseball equipment drive for the Boys & Girls Club! Woo Hoo!!
As I said, I wanted to wait until I had details about this event before I started promoting it, just couldn’t contain myself. From what I understand from the marketing guru and the Barons’ rep taking it on, this whole thing should go down in three to four weeks. That should give enough time to print signage, advertise it, and promote it. Keep your tv’s tuned to this channel for more details as they become available. I’ll even post a mailing address if any of my distant readers want to help.
Maybe next year, with more time to plan, we can included every Academy in Birmingham (There’s three.) Maybe next year, we can include every Academy and minor league team in Alabama. Maybe we can get the entire Southeastern United States based sporting goods chain in on the Action. Maybe next year, the Braves, Rangers, ‘Stros, Nashville Sounds, Tulsa Drillers, Jacksonville Suns, El Paso Diablos, and Round Rock Express can help promote it.
I still have this hot, fuzzy beard, though.
The Beard and The Kid
Everybody has had a “brilliant” idea that they didn’t follow through. Like an awesome invention, where you say to yourself “I’m going to invent a ______ _______ and I’m going to be rich!” Sorry, folks, somebody else invented the Snuggie and Shoedini while you were just talking about it. Some people have an amazing career path planned out, but end up changing majors after two semesters. You can’t be an astronaut if you hate math, sad but true. Most people have had hobbies or collections that they have start, but just got bored and found other interests. I used to collect beer caps and baseball cards, but that’s been awhile. It’s hard to say what makes somebody fall in love with and stick with an idea, a career, a hobby, or even a cause. I guess when you know, you know. Right?
I pretty much have always known that I wanted to work in professional baseball, I guess you’d say being a clubbie is my “calling.” I stepped away from that career for eight years, but I was scheming up a way to get back to it. There’s been one other thing that I’ve aspired to do with my life for several years, and I’ve never really explored it, until recently. I want to create or work with a program that provides baseball to disavantaged youth.
I’ve been around baseball all my life and I owe a great deal of my character to it. It’s taught me how to be a part of a team, the benefits of having a positive state of mind, the rewards of hard work, how to learn from failures and successes, and, most importantly, it’s taught me how to interact with and treat other people. I want to be able to share those lessons with the young people of my community.
I’ve been following and reading about the R.B.I. (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) concept for quite awhile. R.B.I works with Major League Baseball and has succeeded and expanded and is now in over 200 cities worldwide. They have partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to join forces and expand the abilities and reach of both programs. The BGCA’s SMART Moves program teaches the kids about alcohol, drugs, health, and general education.
There is another organization similar to R.B.I. that is based in Atlanta, it’s called L.E.A.D and was founded by former professional player C.J. Stewart. I am constantly reading about the amazing things L.E.A.D. is doing in Atlanta. This organization’s primary objective is to get younger players to and through college. Their select travel ball team, the Ambassadors, boast that 100% of their players have gone on to college and 83% of them received baseball scholarships. They’ve worked with the Atlanta Braves and local professional players to put on clinics at Turner Field. Jason Heyward is a huge supporter of L.E.A.D. and it is the official home of the Jason Heyward Fan Club.
These programs are not only for developing young men from the city into major league stars. They teach these young men the life skills necessary to develop in to adults who can enrich their communities, not be involved in drugs or crime, and the value of an education.
The timing couldn’t be better for me to begin laying the foundation for this. The A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club in Birmingham, my hometown, is an R.B.I. partner. I happened to run into a coach from that organization a few weeks ago, we discussed the league’s history, facilities, instructors, contacts, and needs. It was a very exciting and informative fifteen minute conversation, even though it wasn’t much of a conversation because I mostly just listened and asked questions.
Working for the Barons will only help with this project. Being a clubhouse manager gives me access to professional baseball players. I can collect used equipement, collect memorabilia for fundraising auctions, and things of the like. My job has also introduced me to leaders of business in the Birmingham area, businesses that would possibly be interested in donations or sponsorship. I believe that my involvement could raise visibilty and awareness of the program.
In addition to working for the Barons, I’ve been working at Academy Sports & Outdoors (a sporting goods chain that has stores in the Southeastern U.S.) this offseason. There is a corkboard outside the office that is covered in letters from various schools and organizations thanking Academy for their donations to their schools and causes. I haven’t asked about equipment donations yet, but you can bet that I will!
Social media, especially Twitter, has been and will continue to be a great resource for me to use. I’ve been able to talk to Brian Emory, the Executive Director of Mississippi RBI which is based in not-too-far-away Jackson, MS, on Twitter. He’s excited by my enthusiasm and is looking forward to lending me a hand. I’ve been following the work of C.J. Stewart and L.E.A.D. and I intend to bother C.J. with and lot of questions in the near future. I also have 457 awesome followers (and spammers,) who I’m sure would be willing to lend me a hand in any way that they could. This is what I want to do, and the timing is perfect.
Please click on the links to the programs mentioned in this post:
L.E.A.D. – http://www.lead2legacy.org/
Mississippi RBI – http://mississippirbi.com/
A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club of Birmingham – http://www.aggbgc.org/