Minor League Baseball is a sport and business centered around fan experience. In order to achieve the goal of being a memory-making entity that brings a smile to the face of every man, woman, and child who attends a game, MiLB clubs have an “all hands on deck” approach. The teams’ employees work long hours with varying responsibilities to ensure the success of the small town attraction of Minor League Baseball. Bobby Coon was one of those worker bees for 8 seasons with 3 different clubs, and now he uses the platform of his Pulling Tarp Podcast to tell the stories of the behind-the-scenes heroes of Minor League Baseball.
Bobby was born and raised in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and as a result, baseball was seemingly always a part of his life. Williamsport hosts the annual Little League World Series, and Bobby’s grandfather grew up down the street from one of the founders of Little League Baseball. In addition, Bobby’s childhood home was mere minutes from Historic Bowman Field, home to the New York-Penn League’s Williamsport Crosscutters. As you can imagine, Bobby and his family attended games together on a regular basis.
After acquiring his bachelor’s degree from Slippery Rock University, Bobby Coon would get an unreal opportunity. He had always appreciated competition and teamwork and dreamed of working in sports. So, that would be the focus of Bobby’s first job search. It just so happened that Gabe Sinicropi, Jr., the Williamsport Crosscutters’ Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations, was in need of an assistant for the Summer. So, Bobby Coon accepted his first job offer out of college and was employed by the Minor League Baseball team he grew up loving. Among his responsibilities was hosting the on-field promotions and contests in between innings, a staple at Minor League games.
“Friends and family would come to the game, and they’d see me out on the field. That’s really the closest I’m going to get to a whole crowd of people cheering for me. It was cool just to be involved in my hometown community.”
Among the unique games that fans at Bowman Field had the opportunity to participate in that Summer was a variation of “Minute to Win It,” an international game show franchise that challenged contestants to complete unusual tasks within 60 seconds. Bobby recalls having to watch videos of the aforementioned challenges and adapt them into on-field contests for Crosscutters games.
After the 2012 season was over, Bobby wanted to make Minor League Baseball his full-time job. He was encouraged to attend the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee. So, he scraped up some money, bought a suit, and headed South. While at the Winter Meetings, Bobby was able to inquire about several openings within Minor League Baseball, including Director of Media and Marketing for the Beloit Snappers. After staying in contact with the team, Bobby was informed that the position had been offered to another candidate, but there might be a different opportunity for him in Beloit. The Snappers were in need of a Food and Beverage Director and offered the spot to Bobby.
“I asked them, “Are you looking at the right resume?” Because, my bachelor’s degree is in communications and marketing, and that’s what all my experience was up until that point. I really just wanted to go off on my own and do my own thing, and I moved to Beloit, Wisconsin to be the Director of Food and Beverage. I had never even worked in fast-food or anything like that. Everything was brand new. It was probably the most physically demanding job I’ve ever had.”
By the time Bobby’s season in food and beverage was over (and he had burnt off his eyebrows. Check out Episode 2 of Pulling Tarp for the story), he was already doing some work with the Snappers’ website and social media, so when the Director of Media Relations and Marketing position became available, it was a smooth transition. Bobby migrated desks and took over a new department at Pohlman Field.
After the 2016 season, his third in Beloit, Bobby wanted to move back towards the East coast, so he began to search for a new opportunity in Minor League Baseball. He found it in Salisbury, Maryland with the South Atlantic League’s Delmarva Shorebirds. From 2017 to 2019, Bobby Coon was the Communication Services Coordinator for the Shorebirds, but by this time, the long and arduous hours that Minor League Baseball demands were wearing on Bobby, and he decided to find a career outside of baseball.
The idea for a podcast was one Bobby had had in his mind for quite some time, but the execution never fit into his schedule until he was no longer working in baseball. Bobby noticed through social media that Nate Metz, who Bobby had hired as an official scorer in Beloit, had begun working for a small media outlet producing podcasts. Bobby reached out to Nate for advice on which microphone to purchase if he were to start recording a podcast of his own. Nate loved Bobby’s concept of a podcast about working in Minor League Baseball, one thing led to another, and the Pulling Tarp Podcast was born. Bobby, to date, has released 14 weekly episodes, interviewing the people who turn the gears behind the scenes of Minor League Baseball.
“The great thing about Minor League Baseball is everybody’s kind of at an arm’s length.”
One of the more unique elements of Pulling Tarp is that at the end of each episode, Bobby asks his guest to name their favorite walk-up song from their time working at the ballpark. A walk-up song is the music that a player chooses to be played while they are walking up to the plate for an at-bat. Bobby has obviously spent a lot of time playing walk-up songs and being responsible for communicating with players to ensure the correct song is played when they come up to the plate.
“It brings a form of personality to the game. You can find out so much about a player just by the type of walk-up song he has.”
According to Bobby, some players keep walk-up songs long enough for fans to recognize they are coming up to bat based solely on the music playing. Some players, however, will change their song everyday, game-to-game, especially if they struggled at the plate the previous day.
Another topic that Bobby mentions on the podcast as well as on his Twitter account is his love for the Philly cheesesteak. Bobby refers to the cheesesteak as the “ultimate meal.” He considers himself a connoisseur but claims he has some controversial opinions on the much-debated cheesesteak. For instance, Bobby likes his cheesesteak with lettuce and tomato and sliced cheese opposed to cheese whiz. Bobby’s favorite cheesesteak comes from Joe’s Pizza in his hometown of Williamsport. Joe’s is located next to the high school Bobby attended, and he notes the bread made from the same dough as the pizza is one of the elements that sets this cheesesteak apart.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Bobby has been spending more time at home but says not much has changed for him. He had plans to work for the Delmarva Shorebirds on a part-time basis and has one other goal he has yet to achieve with the lack of a baseball season so far this year.
“I was really looking forward to going to a baseball game and drinking some beers. I hear that’s nice.”
You can find Bobby on Twitter @ItsRACoon and check out The Pulling Tarp Podcast wherever you find your favorite podcasts. New episodes are released Thursday mornings at 6am Eastern. If you love Minor League Baseball and want some insight on how the sausage is made, so to speak, I believe you’ll enjoy Pulling Tarp. Give it a listen, and let me know what you think here with a comment or on any of my social media outlets: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.