Away From the Game: SWB RailRiders’ Adam Marco ready for new challenge

By DJ Eberle - [email protected] | November 24th, 2017 6:33 am

ON THE WEB

Visit the online version of this story at timesleader.com to read more of the interview with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders director of broadcast and media relations Adam Marco.

Whether it’s the athletes, coaches, front office staff, athletic directors or training staff, it takes a small community to build a winning atmosphere, no matter the level of the sport.

Away From the Game profiles movers and shakers in the world of Wyoming Valley athletics. This week features Adam Marco, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders director of broadcast and media relations.

After joining the front-office staff in November, Marco will step behind the microphone when play begins in April as the new voice of the RailRiders.

Originally from western Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, he is a Mercyhurst College graduate and has worked in media relations and broadcasting with the Williamsport Crosscutters, Oklahoma City RedHawks and, most recently, the West Virginia Power.

DJ EBERLE: You’ve been here for a week or two now. How’s the transition been? How have you been acclimating to northeastern Pennsylvania, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area?

ADAM MARCO: Well waking up (Monday) morning to snow was phenomenal. Actually, it snowed my first day and I grew up in western PA, I went to Mercyhurst College. We were in the snowbelt. My freshman year 20 years, there was a huge snowfall. I’m no stranger to any of this, but it is good to be back in Pennsylvania. Roots in this state. My oldest sister went to Penn State. I was there for the original LaVar (Arrington) Leap at Beaver Stadium. So I have some ties certainly to Pennsylvania, but plenty of new roots here, in northeast PA, after a great run in Charleston, West Virginia, with a good staff. Excited to get back to the Triple-A level. I was there for a few years.

What’s the most excitement you have toward the job, the most intriguing part about it?

There are a couple of things that downright fascinate me. First of all, the Pittsburgh Pirates are a phenomenal franchise and that’s who the Power had been with for the eight years I was there. Before that I had worked in Texas’ system and the Phillies, with Williamsport, but it really hits you hard that this is a global brand — this is baseball’s brand — when it comes to our parent club with the Yankees. That’s very exciting and also a little nerve-wracking at the same time. It’s more of a spotlight than baseball has been in my life — this organization, this team — compared to the other places I’ve been. When I was in Oklahoma City, yes they were Triple-A for the Rangers at that point in time and had some great talent, but it’s still just a different level. So I think that excitement is going to carry me through to the season. I don’t know if it’s ever going to stop. We’re working on a couple of facets of my job. Last week we had a call with the YES Network and I’m excited about some of the things they’ve done in the past that we’re going to build on — that Homegrown series — to some other possibilities of things we can do with them. Just incorporating my role here with how that all plays out in New York and being defacto part of the New York media to a certain extent is kind of intriguing, fascinating and nerve-wracking all at the same time.

You speak of the talent, and obviously when you took the job I’m sure your’re well aware of the youth movement that’s happening here and the excitement with all of the prospects that are making their way up to Triple-A, and you look at the Yankees, the way it is, is because this team is so competitive here at the Triple-A level and that bridge gap to the majors, they’re having to trade guys away to clear spots on the 40-man roster today. How exciting is that, that the talent level you’re going to see considering the last couple years this team has had?

The Triple-A talent level to me is interesting for a couple of reasons because you’re dealing with those premier prospects, some of which need a little more seasoning for one reason or another, whether it is contractual or whether they need to get the guy the innings or that at-bats. I’ve seen some of the talent headed this way. When I was in Charleston, West Virginia, we played the Charleston RiverDogs. One of my favorite players this past year was Estevan Florial, where we’re maybe on the cusp, but also maybe a year away from contributing. So I know this pipeline. I’ve seen this pipeline and you mix that with guys that are trying to get back to the Major Leagues, guys that are hanging on or looking to continue this as a career and still have that chance. Whether it is a guy who’s been there, a guy who’s trying to get there or a guy that’s a prototypical Four-A player that’s never cracked a Major League roster, you have such an intriguing level of talent at this level that it’s exciting. I see the history of this RailRiders team the last few years and the postseason runs, the Triple-A National Championship two years ago and it doens’t look like that ride stops anytime soon. It looks like it’s going to continue at least for the foreseeable future, which is fantastic. In my time with Pirates organization, they were not a winning franchise, so we had talent because of high draft picks. This is a lot different in that regard because now you’re developed talent. It’s not just guys that may have a chance. These are all guys that are a phone call away and that opportunity to watch them grow at this level knowing that they could get back to the clubhouse after a game and get that call and that story, and that’s amazing to be a part of — to watch.

It’s funny you talk about that mix and that brings me back to the opening day roster. It was a mix of those young guys, like the Clint Fraziers, and then you also had Ruben Tejada trying to make it back. Ernesto Frieri, who was out of baseball a year ago, trying to make it back. It’s a very cool and a different dynamic you see here at the Triple-A level that you don’t see anywhere else in sports, and that’s what makes it such an intriguing and fun experience.

It really does. Ten years ago when I was in Texas’ system with Oklahoma City, we had Nelson Cruz before he was Nelson Cruz. He was the Pacific Coast League MVP in 2008. He had an ankle sprain and he missed August, but he still hit 37 home runs and drove in 99 from April to July 31st. To see that campaign, that’s where I learned really what the Four-A player was because he couldn’t catch on with Milwaukee. To see him have that chance and he was then to me like Hines Ward was in football. He was always smiling and I don’t think that’s ever changed. So seeing those guys go through the motions, learn how to adapt their game and find that spot that makes them a Major Leaguer — to stay in his case. For Nelson, he won the league MVP, came back on a rehab assignment the next year and I don’t think he understood. I had him autograph a baseball. I never ask for autographs, but, ‘Nelson Cruz, can you sign it PCL MVP?’ He wrote MPV, like the Mazda minivan. He didn’t even understand the award he got and he was the best player in the league. Just to watch these guys get to that point, to excel and knock on the door. It’s a fun part of why we do this.

So part of these interviews is about the stuff away from the game as well. Like you said, you’re from Pennsylvania. Just from an off-the-field aspect, what intrigued you to move out to northeastern Pennsylvania, sort of close to Williamsport?

It is. In fact I stop there on my way out for the interview and checked out their renovations. It’s a ballpark that I didn’t recognize and I was there a decade ago. Intriguing side of this for me is obviously the chance to call Triple-A baseball, to work in the Yankees organization. This is — in my brief time here — a very energetic staff. It starts with (president and general manager) Josh (Olerud) at the top, and everybody is invested in seeing this team succeed, and I’m not saying that it’s not that way elsewhere, but I had been in Charleston for eight years and had gotten to the point where I wasn’t going to rise anymore in that organization. I was the director of marketing and recently promoted to assistant general manager. So it was really that diverse skill set that landed me an interview here. Now I have the ability to almost step back from a few things and help this team in a few areas. I ran the team website in West Virginia. I can help with that here. I can help with the sales and really utilize my skill set in a couple areas. I’m really excited to work with a number of people on this staff and help see this organization grow.

When people always talk about this area it’s a big outdoors area. Bear season just started over the weekend. Dear season’s next week. Are you a big outdoors guy — hunting, fishing? Golf is pretty big if you ask the guys in the clubhouse.

Well I was sitting outside watching it snow and I was really actually afraid a bear might walk passed, but I love to golf and my big winter sport is — I love to ski. Being right next to the mountain, I’m thinking I get off of work at 5 p.m., I have my skies in the back and go up and get a few runs in. So I’m excited about that. I took a trip to Utah last year and skied Salt Lake City — a couple spots there. Being now like six-, six-and-a-half hours away from resorts in Vermont. I’m thinking that’s a trip coming up in the near future. But from an outdoors perspective, skiing, golf and I love soccer. I’m a soccer player even at age 38. Two weeks ago I had an outdoor playoff game back in Charleston. The game was at 5 p.m., we went to overtime and then penalties and then I had a seven-hour drive that started at 7:30 p.m.

That’s dedication right there.

It could have been the last game. Ultimately we lost 3-2 in penalties. It was the last game, so I didn’t want to miss it. I’m looking to find a team here. I haven’t done it recently — I had ankle surgery over the summer — but I like to run. I’m planning on doing the Scranton half, which is the day after opening day, and I also have an entry in the New York City half, which is earlier in March. So I think I’m going to do those. I know there’s plenty of places and trails to do that stuff around here. I’m almost healthy enough. My dad is a runner. He’s 70 years old and does marathons every year — two, three marathons — so I don’t have any excuses if that’s the case.

Obviously Minor League Baseball is a grinding environment and career path to choose. Was baseball always a passion of your’s? How did you get involved?

I started playing at tee ball age and played all the way through the age of 18. I had ankle surgery in high school and that sort of derailed my baseball career because I was a catcher — that constant crouch. I played a few years in the outfield and second base, but at that point I went off to college. Three days into my freshman year my work study was the radio station and I walked in and the guy said, ‘Alright, see ya.’ I said, ‘Wait, what?’ ‘Oh, you’re on.’ ‘I don’t know what I’m doing.’ He gave me five-minute crash course. By my sophomore year I was running the station. I was doing baseball, basketball, all the major sports and out of school actually my first job was as an overnight DJ at a Froggy station in Western Pennsylvania. I had the chance there, they needed someone to fill in for high school football and that led to basketball, that led to baseball and that got to the point where I was doing, between high school and college games, I was doing four games a week and I was really enjoying that more than I was the day job. After I learned what the baseball winter meetings were and that they were a thing and you could work in baseball, I went to the 2005 meetings. Had some interviews, including with Mike Vander Woude — who used to be the broadcaster here — while he was still in Dayton. I didn’t get a job out of it, but I made some contacts. That was a lot to take in that first time, but second time through it was in Orlando and I met Gabe Sinicropi, who was with Williamsport. Gabe, to this day, is one of my best friends in the industry and he took a chance on a 27-year-old, $500-a-month intern. My then-girlfriend, now-wife, and parents were very supportive that I was not going to make any money anytime soon and allowed me the chance to come out to Williamsport. Then my wife moved us to Charleston, and I went to Oklahoma City, then she moved us to Richmond and I moved us to Charleston, but she’s excited about this move as well. I couldn’t do this without her.

What are your goals? What do you hope to achieve with this new job, with this new role with the Yankees organization, with the RailRiders?

I have goals laid out for me by the team. We want to improve our relationships with the local and national media. From the short-term perspective, we want to get this brand out there. When you think “Yankees baseball” we want to be thought of in the same thought process. Maybe not the same breath, but in that same thought process, especially here in northeast PA. Personally, I had a great run in Charleston and I will miss all of my coworkers — it was a great staff down there. Finding my way and fitting in quickly is my first goal. To be a part of this staff and to be valued to what we do here. The broadcasting will come, if only because we don’t have a game until April 6th. So I have time to get settled, to find my niche in this office and see where I fit, where I can help out.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders director of broadcast and media relations Adam Marco during his ski trip in Utah this past January. He’s an avid skier.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/web1_Utah-1.jpgScranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders director of broadcast and media relations Adam Marco during his ski trip in Utah this past January. He’s an avid skier. Submitted photo
Adam Marco joined the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders front office in November as the director of broadcast and media relations.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/web1_Adam-Marco.jpgAdam Marco joined the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders front office in November as the director of broadcast and media relations. Submitted photo

By DJ Eberle

[email protected]

ON THE WEB

Visit the online version of this story at timesleader.com to read more of the interview with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders director of broadcast and media relations Adam Marco.

Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle


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