Broadalbin-Perth graduate Jon Sargalis is ready for the big leagues, but he has to wait for the big leagues to be ready for him.
After working the last three summers as the director of marketing, public relations and media relations for the Amsterdam Mohawks of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League and spending a winter as a public relations and media relations intern with the American Hockey League’s Adirondack Phantoms, Sargalis is taking a swing at the major leagues.
This month, he started a job with the Chicago Cubs in the guest services department, biding his time in hopes of an opening in marketing, PR or media relations. In the meantime, he gets to go to work each day at Wrigley Field.
“[A recent] game went extra innings, the Cubs got a walk-off hit, then the roar of the crowd, 40,000 people all cheering, they start the ‘Go, Cubs, Go’ song and everybody’s singing along to it,” Sargalis said. “I just love the feeling of that.”
That fervent baseball community is one Sargalis would be thrilled to serve with the Cubs, keeping them up to date with game action and other developments on social media, promotions and any other way he can enhance the fan experience.
He gets to serve them in a hands-on way, in guest services. From day to day, his assignment changes. Some days, he’ll scan tickets as patrons enter the park. Other days, he’ll be standing in an aisle in the stands as an usher and get to watch an entire game. Some days, he’ll be helping fans with disabilities.
It’s his foot in the door.
He didn’t know this was the door he wanted to walk through just a few years ago. He started off keeping the scorebook for the Broadalbin-Perth Patriots and promoting the team through social media, and that led to an internship with the Mohawks.
“I felt like a valuable piece of the team,” Sargalis said of his time with B-P. “I wanted to do whatever I could do to help the team win, which was doing the stats, doing scouting reports, figuring out this is where the defense needs to play, this is what we need to do here, and advancing that into the social media and everything so parents could stay involved, and fans could keep up to date on everything that was going on.”
While interning with the Mohawks, Sargalis took an interest in everything off the field that went into a game.
“I started getting more involved in the behind-the-scenes stuff there, and it was all stuff I enjoyed,” he said. “I learned more about the business of baseball, sponsorships, interacting with fans and trying to get the best promotions together.”
That internship led to a full-time gig with the Mohawks. That job led to an internship with the Phantoms when broadcaster Bob Rotruck saw the work he did at Shuttleworth Park — Rotruck was calling games for the Mohawks during the summer and is the radio voice of the Phantoms, who now play in Allentown, Pa.
At each stop, one job led to the next. So it figures this job could lead to another within the organization.
For the job in guest services, he can call on his experience as an usher at Saratoga Race Course for the past six summers. It’s just another way of engaging with the audience, he said.
“I learned about guest services there and how to deal with fans on a daily basis, season-ticket holders that come in every day and are happy to see you, the first-time people that come in, or the people who have issues that you have to deal with,” Sargalis said.
While he waits for an opening farther up the ladder, either with the Cubs or elsewhere, the “Friendly Confines” are a pretty cool place to spend his days.
“Any other organization wins a championship, a World Series, it’s great. It’s exciting,” he said. “If I’m here, and the Cubs win a World Series, I mean, I’ll be telling my stories about that for the rest of my life.
“The bullpens are like the bullpens at Shuttleworth. So I can get a front-row seat and I’m standing three feet away from Jon Lester doing a bullpen session. Experiences like that are the things I love.”
It may not lead to an office job with the Cubs, but Sargalis knows he can’t hit the ball unless he gets his bat off his shoulders, so he’s taking a swing. Either way, he’s absorbing as much as he can and expects the experience to make him a more attractive hire somewhere down the line.
“Every day, I go to the ballpark and I’m finding out something new, just paying attention to the way the game is played there,” he said.
“Every day, there’s an opportunity to learn something new. Whether I continue in Major League Baseball, go back to the minor leagues or even go back and help the high school team again, I’m hoping I can bring something I’ve learned here, take it there, and increase the wealth of knowledge of everyone around me.”