Phillies' college media day a big hit

Phillies' college media day a big hit

PHILADELPHIA -- Questions came swiftly for Ruben Amaro Jr. during Friday afternoon's press conference, giving the Phillies' assistant general manager little time to take a breath between responses.

What about David Bell and Mike Lieberthal? Where do Gavin Floyd and Rob Tejeda fit in to the rotation? Are you concerned about Tom Gordon's age and five-year gap between closing jobs? Can this team compete as currently constructed?

Amaro answered each question candidly from the packed interview room at Citizens Bank Park. In many aspects, the session had the look and feel of an old-fashioned media grilling, except for the fact that each person raised their hand and waited to be called on.

That level of politeness stems from the fact that none of the interviewers had a college degree.

Amaro spent 45 minutes addressing inquiries from 120 college students from 12 area schools, including Temple University, Rowan University and Drexel University. His participation was the final part of College Media Day, in which students interested in sports careers learned about facets of media coverage and the working of the organization.

The Phillies held a similar event some 30 years ago, remembered Larry Shenk, the team's vice president of public relations since the winter of 1963. With the return of College Nights at home -- where college students can receive discounted admission to five home games -- the team wanted to reach out further to their younger fan base.

Those college nights are scheduled for April 19, 20, 26 and 27 and May 4. The April 26 game is the night Jimmy Rollins could break Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak.

So much has changed in the 30 years since the last event of this kind, with the immediacy of the Internet and the wider television and radio coverage opening many different doors.

The early-morning session featured team employees John Brazer (marketing publicist), Dave Abramson (technical services), Michele DeVicaris (entertainment representative), Gene Dias (director, community relations), Meghan Leary (fan development and education programs) and Leigh Tobin (director, media relations) explaining the nuances of their day-to-day jobs.

Each took a somewhat unorthodox approach to their current jobs.

"If you tell enough people your dream and meet enough people, you never know who you might meet that turn your life around," said Brazer, who got his job through someone he met at a wedding. "It can happen."

Students learned about the aspects of working for a baseball team that go beyond writing about the team and moves made by the front office. They heard about aspects of giving back to the community through charity ventures and player appearances.

The afternoon featured a lively Q&A with broadcaster Scott Graham, Leslie Gudel (Comcast), Paul Hagen (Philadelphia Daily News) and Andy Shenk ( Each described the challenges of their jobs and the way that they broke into the business.

"There's no one direct road to get here," said Scott Palmer, a former Channel 6 sportscaster who is now a consultant with the Phillies. "No one goes directly to where they want to get. It's important to embrace the smaller markets, where you have the freedom to make mistakes."

Other tips included be yourself, rather than try assume a "persona," work often, meet as many people as you can and and don't be discouraged by the word, "No," a common term in any business.

Temple University junior Jeremy Kusnir was particularly impressed with the day, and he was not just there to take notes. Teaming with cameraperson Colleen Herron, a sophomore and fellow broadcasting, telecommunications and mass media (BTM&M) major, he interviewed Larry Shenk for "Temple Update," a feature for the school's television station.

"They have to do this again," Kusnir said. "It's so hard to get in the door, so any time you have a chance to learn about working in the business, you should take it."

Ken Mandel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.