5 Questions for Pat O'Conner
Minor League Baseball President
When did you develop a love for baseball and how has it influenced your life?
I played baseball from tee ball through my junior year of college. While I played other sports baseball was always my favorite. In hindsight, playing baseball taught me life lessons about competition, teamwork, discipline and commitment. Baseball, in many ways, is a metaphor for life. Its simplicity is its uniqueness and its complexity its strength. As America's game it has brought to light the social struggles of our country and healed our nation when it hurt most.
You mentioned two rules in your house growing up. What were they and what did you do in between?The two rules around the house were "be home for dinner" and "be in the house when the street light came on". All summer long the time in between was spent at the ball field. If not playing in an organized league I was playing a pickup game with friends. It was hard to find 18 kids so we played with "ghost fielders" and "automatic outs". If hardball was out of the question we'd put together a whiffle ball game in someone's backyard.
Why is diversity important in baseball's front office?I feel it is important for Minor League Baseball to diversify its ownership and front office in order to successfully deal with the demographic evolution underway in the country. As America becomes more diverse it is important that baseball become a reflection of the new demographic. The population shift from white to non-white in this country is accompanied with a significant shift in capital. For baseball to maintain its place of relevance in this America I feel it is important we integrate our industry with color and gender that recognizes the corresponding demographic shift we see in the country. We will be more effective in our communities if we look, sound, feel and act more like our community as opposed to less like our community.
What is Minor League Baseball all about and how important is community?Minor League Baseball is a unique blend of an athletic event and an entertainment outing. Within our business model we are able to provide American families with "affordable family entertainment" in a clean, safe and lively environment. Community is critically important to what we do and what we represent. Minor League Baseball satisfies communities need for recreation, entertainment and a place to commune. We are all about community from grade schools all the way through senior centers. Being entrenched in the community is an essential element in our marketing and appeal to cities all over the United States.
What does it mean to be the leader of Minor League Baseball?It is an extremely humbling experience to lead Minor League Baseball. Not only is our product so wholesome and good for America but Minor League Baseball is filled with quality, hard-working people. I view this opportunity as a privilege and honor. As President of Minor League Baseball I am but the steward of an American treasure. I do have the opportunity to influence change in how we operate and conduct our business as we strive to be good corporate citizens, trustworthy partners and noble keepers of a great industry. I also hold myself out as an example of what working from the ground up can do for a young man or woman. From an intern to the president has been a memorable journey and one I hope other young people have the chance to experience as I have.
What activities do you plan to attend this academic year?
An everlasting love...
When Natalie Cole sang "this will be an everlasting love," she was not necessarily describing the attachment alumni have for their alma mater.
There is certainly a distinct difference in the emotional attachment alums feel for their families compared to their university.
Yet, what cannot be understated is the fact that alumni are the university's one constituency that will have a life-long affiliation with the institution. WSSU alumni have emphatically provided tangible evidence of their affection for WSSU and that certainly has been the case recently. A goal of 1,300 alumni donors was established at the beginning of our fiscal year and reaching that goal would be a record breaker. More importantly, it would serve as a tremendous example of our alumni supporting the educational pursuits of our students.
There is not an adequate method of thanking all the donors for your support and our students are certainly grateful for your investments in their futures. You are the difference makers since your gifts will truly change lives. Maybe that is an everlasting love since love does tend to change things for the better.
If you have not made a gift, there is still time to do so now. Alumni giving not only makes a difference for our students today, but serves as a reminder to our students that they too will be expected to give back to WSSU on a yearly basis. Your gift and the gifts of future alumni certainly illustrate that everlasting ties can equal everlasting love.