Touring The Bases With…Heather McKeating
SEAMHEADS: When did you start working for the Norfolk Tides?
HEATHER: I started working for the Tides when I was sixteen.Â I went to my first baseball game, an afternoon game with my dad. It was at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburg when I was 13 and I remember how big the stadium was and how small Barry Bonds was. Of course I realize that now!Â I enjoyed it so much.
One of the security officers at the park was our neighbor.Â I told him of my interest and he introduced me to the Assistant General Manager who hired me that week.
I worked there as an usher for two summers while attending Lake Taylor High School in Norfolk, Virginia where I was born and raised. I worked there two more years while I attended Radford University in Radford, VA.Â I left there and headed home and was not sure what I was going to do with my life.Â It was a great part time gig but I wanted a full time job.
I then switched over to Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA and majored in Sports Management. During this time, I tried to get a full time job with the Tides.
SH: Did you play sports in school?
Heather: Yes, I played four sports.Â Soccer, Field Hockey, Swimming and Track.
SH: Is that when you realized you had a passion for baseball?
Heather: Yes, and sports in general. I thought working at the ballpark would be a blast.Â Â I bugged my boss to hire me. I was willing to be an intern, receptionist or an assistant, anything to work at the park.Â Â I was called for an interview in November 1997 as receptionist and was required to take a typing test. On a typewriter! That seems so old and funny to me now. I was hired on the spot and went to work January 4, 1998.
SH: How did you feel at that time?
Heather: It was weird because there were only two other women and myself in the front office. All the rest of the staff were men.Â I was happy to have the job as receptionist but I needed a challenge. A position opened in Group Sales and I jumped at it.
SH: What were your responsibilities in Group Sales?
Heather: I was in charge of taking reservations, collecting & keeping track of money, and printing tickets, advertising sales, fundraisers and promoting theme nights.Â I did this for two seasons. But I wanted more of a challenge.Â I wanted to be Director of my own department. A position opened in the Community Relations Department and I took it.
SH: Did you like Community Relations?Â What do you do?
Heather: I love every aspect of this job. I get to interact with all types of people and I am out in the community.Â Iâ€™m in charge of fundraising, donations, youth day, High School Games, career days, community events, arranging speaking engagements for the players, in charge of the mascot and Field of Dreams.
I have done this job for ten years now and this will be my seventeenth in baseball.
SH:Â What is Field of Dreams and what kind of mascot do the Tides have?
Heather:Â Field of Dreams is a program with youth baseball where we select a little league team to go out with the Norfolk Tides for the National Anthem. It is such a wonderful program and I am not sure who enjoys it more, the children or the parents.
Our mascot is Rip Tide and was created in 1993. He is made after the essence of water since we are completely surrounded by water.
SH: What are the major changes you have seen over the years with the Tides?
Heather: We have a staff of sixteen, half women and what a great testament to the diversity of the sports world now.Â Weâ€™ve come a long way from three women to ten and all are full time.
I have enjoyed working in baseball so much and have met some fantastic women who run teams, departments and in some cases, the club.Â I canâ€™t imagine doing another job that I will love as much as I love this.
SH:Â Do you follow any other teams?
Heather:Â In baseball, I follow the New York Mets.Â In football, which is my favorite sport, I also like and follow the New York Giants.
SH:Â Are you married?Â Do you have any children?
Heather: Yes, I am married with one boy, Aidan who is two years old
SH:Â What do you do for relaxation after a game?
Heather:Â I kick back with my husband and drink a cold beer.
SH: What is the funniest thing you have seen with the Tides?
Heather:Â My game time job is to run the suite level and at the end of a game, our mascot, Rip Tide was wandering the hall, chatting with fans when he slipped and fell. His head fell off and rolled down the hallway. Our game had just ended so everyone was coming into the hallway. I grabbed the head and our suite servers dragged him into a suite so no one would see him.Â It was priceless!
SH: If you could ask any woman in baseball one question, who would that be and what would you ask?
Heather: I would love to talk to Naomi Silver and ask her how she does it? Because she has done this a long time and there are some very strong men in the International League and how she stays so strong and gains respect with this type of group.
SH: You mentioned you met some fantastic women who work in baseball or run team. Care to elaborate?
Heather: I met some interesting ladies at the Baseball Winter Meeting and also Kim Ng, the Assistant General Manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.Â I was impressed with her diversity and knowledge of the game.
SH:Â What is the most unusual promotion you have seen with the Tides?
Heather: The most unusual promotion that I can recall is we had a player for us named Mark Johnson and the other team had a player named Mark Johnson and if anyone came to the ticket window that night with the name Mark Johnson we were giving away free tickets. This is extremely rare so we thought we would have a little fun with it.
SH:Â What is your favorite baseball movie?
Heather:Â “For The Love of The Game,” with Kevin Costner.
Norm Coleman is an actor, writer, and professional photographer living in Half Moon Bay, California.