Every year at the winter meetings I offer to help exactly one job fair participant in a unique way. A little background: The job fair consists of scores of twenty-somethings who have to pre-register for the event. These are people who are trying to get their foot into the door by any means necessary. They stand out in San Diego because of their age, suits, and name. So every year I hold what I call the job fair lottery. Only three people have ever taken my offer to help them seriously and now all three work in baseball.
I have a pretty scientific way of selecting the person to help. I literally pick the first person I see upon arrival.
When I entered the San Diego Hilton I promptly searched for the credential sign-in. When I could not find it I saw Bryson Asmus, wearing a job fair credential, and I asked him where the sign-in was. To my dismay he said it was at the other hotel, about a mile away. I then asked him if he wanted to come with me. He looked at me like I was insane and then tried to explain where it was.
I said, "My name is Joshua Kusnick, I am an MLBPA certified agent, I work for Michael Brantley, Jeremy Jeffress, Adrian Nieto, Steve Clevenger and several other players with big-league time. If you want, you can tail me the entire week and I will introduce you to all my friends and every important person in the game you would ever want to meet.” Then I asked him, you in? Bryson jumped at the chance and I congratulated him on winning the job fair lottery.
Bryson first tailed me to the sign-in area, where he was able to confirm I was an actual MLBPA agent. MLBPA agents have to register for a name tag at the winter meetings and if you're not a certified agent you do not get an agent credential. So after that we headed back to the lobby. I had several hours before any of my club meetings so I then introduced him to everyone in the print and TV media that I knew. I arranged for him to meet club officials, from scouts to GM's, a couple of union people, and everyone I knew at ESPN.
We split up when it was time for me to meet with clubs, but gathered back together immediately after I returned downstairs. I invited him to come to the annual dinner gathering held by MLB Advanced Media guru Cory Schwartz. After that dinner Bryson was accepted into our little club. When dinner was over he went back to his room and I proceeded to stay in the lobby working until 3 a.m., as usual.
The next night after all my scheduled meetings Bryson joined me for another yearly tradition, dinner with Will Carroll. A couple other very good baseball people came with us, as did my wife. We had, without a doubt, the strangest dinner experience of our collective lives that evening. We ate at a place across called The Lion’s Share, across from the hotel. It was like something Stefon would tip you to: This place had everything. A red carpet, a peacock, a guy in a bear suit, a magician, absinthe, and an MLB front office. It was just magical, though I'm sure the absinthe played a small role (kidding). After dinner, went back to the lobby where I stayed until 3 again.
The final day around 5 p.m. I ran into Bryson while I was entering the lobby and asked him where he was headed, to which he replied that he had an interview with the Helena Brewers. I told him that if he wanted me to I would be happy to go with him. We proceeded to walk a mile to the interview room. I have always had good luck with the Brewers organization, from Brantley to Jeffress to Chuckie Caufield, who now coaches in the system after his playing career ended. When we got to the job fair interview room there were about 50 empty tables and two Helena Brewers employees in their early to mid-20s who were to conduct the interview. When we walked in I introduced myself as Jeremy Jeffress' agent and told them I had two clients who played in Helena in 2014, Alan Sharkey and Brandon Diaz. One of the two interviewers clearly thought I was insane; the other one clearly knew who I was. He handed me his business card. Really nice guy.
I left the room and waited outside for Bryson, since I didn’t have another meeting for another couple of hours. Most job fair interviews run long, but after five minutes Bryson came out and exclaimed he'd been hired. He got his first job in baseball, which is by far the hardest one to get.
He told me that spending time with me had given him far more confidence than he came in with and that he owed me forever. I told him he did not owe me anything and that he earned that job. I know how nearly impossible it is to work in baseball, and I always do my very best to answer any questions about the business that come my way. If that helps someone else get their foot in the door, that’s just awesome. I merely told him that if he is ever in a position to do for someone else what I did for him, he had to do it. And that’s the story of my job fair lottery I hold every year. I can’t wait to see what Nashville, D.C., and Orlando will hold, and to see where in baseball young Bryson will end up. Wherever it is he will have a really good story about how he got his start.
Thank you for reading
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Great story. Thanks for sharing.
You could make the pre-screening really fun, I'm sure.
My field isn't quite as difficult to break into, but I will always take the time to meet with someone trying to get their start. People were very generous with me when I was a fresh-faced college grad looking for work, and it's a very tough market out there...best of luck to you and the kids you've helped out in the new year!