When it came time to list his favorite baseball movie, Schaumburg Flyers Assistant General Manager/ Director of Operations Aaron Studebaker’s response didn’t surprise me.
“Little Big League. I always wanted to run a team as a kid.”
The Columbus native enters his third season with the Flyers, but has been around minor league ball clubs since 2003. Studebaker got his start through an internship with the Chillicothe Paints (Mid-American Conference) while still attending Bowling Green State University. After his time with the Paints, Studebaker moved on to the Traverse City Beach Bums (Frontier League) where he worked as the Director of Sales and Marketing. In 2007, Studebaker left the Beach Bums and acquired his current position with the Flyers two years later.
Studebaker has been hard at work preparing for the 2010 season, but I was able to squeeze in a few probing questions amidst the off season chaos.
Q: How do you think last season went for the team?
A: “Mike Busch was brought on to take a team from 2008 who was statically one of the worst teams in the history of the Northern League and turn them around. Mike did so by having the largest increase in winning percentage in the entire league.”
Q: What made last season successful to you?
A: “Last season was a great success. The economy had many people thinking that their entertainment was going to be cut due to lack of disposable income but the Schaumburg Flyers were there to be that entertainment. By putting on more than a baseball game but more of an entire show we were able to make the Schaumburg Flyers experience the perfect fit. Combined with items such as the Bandits game, Diamond Dig, Velcro wall, and ballpark improvements we were very pleased with 2009. We also had the highest increase in attendance of any team in the league from 2008.”
Q: Last season the Schaumburg Flyers challenged the professional women’s 2009 National Professional Fastpitch League Champion Chicago Bandits to a Battle of the Sexes at Alexian Field. I was at the game and I couldn’t believe the amount of people who came out to support both teams. What kind of an impact do you think this event had on the ball club?
A: “It was a huge success and an attendance record of 8,918. It was another way to increase exposure for the Schaumburg Flyers. It was a success because it was a continuation of the forever long battle of the sexes mindset between men and women and put it on a large stage. I think people were torn about what side to truly root for so it made every play during the game one that the entire ballpark cheered for. “
Q: What’s the organization’s primary focus at the beginning of each season?
A: “Pack the house and make sure that everyone is enjoying the experience.”
Q: This offseason has been very busy. What kind of changes have been made that are different from last year?
A: “Some basic ones are some daily promotions. We are introducing Two for Tuesdays. On Tuesdays fans can enjoy $2 soda and beer options. Fans can also receive a $2 reserved seat with the purchase of a regular $10 reserved seat. One each one of the Tuesday there will also be a selected gift shop item that is only $2. Many other items are in the works but you will just have to wait to see them announced.”
Q: How often does the make up of the team change from season to season? How do you think this season’s team is shaping up?
A: “Mike Busch is pulling together hopefully a championship quality team. I can tell you he is working hard to make the baseball product a great one so we will see.”
Q: What are some of your expectations going in to this season?
A: “I expect to provide great entertainment to Chicagoland, pack the house and win a championship.”
Q: How do you think the additions of the Lake County Fielders and the Rockford Riverhawks will impact the league?
A: ” The last two years it has only been 6 teams. The addition of these two teams will help bring new excitement and make it feel less like we are playing Joliet everyday.”
Q: What areas of the organization are you involved in?
A: “I am involved in almost everything as everyone else is. I directly work with the daily operations of the organization as well as corporate partnerships. The great thing about minor league baseball is that we all work as a team. At times we have to work more as a team than the players on the field actually do.”
Q: If could assemble a Flyers Dream Team, who would be on it?
A: “My dream team are the fans who come into Alexian Field each year. They are who make us who we are.”