Since the eighth grade English class in which I realized I actually enjoyed diagramming sentences, I’ve known that I have a love for writing, for thoughts conveyed well, for powerful messages. Years later, I realized my interest and the talent it forged in me would turn, in some form or another, into my profession. I’ve been fortunate since then to see that happen and to spend my entire professional career in the business of communicating to and for people. Today, I have the privilege of doing so for an organization (and the co-workers and friends within it) I truly respect, the York Revolution. I actually get paid to use my love of words and messages to express to people the positive effect York Revolution offerings can have on their lives.
As our director of marketing and communications, then, I also have the privilege of conveying our organization’s thoughts on this most important day – when we as a nation honor the courage of one of the greatest messengers of our history – Dr. Martin Luther King.
I’m nervous to do so, however. I mean, where does one start when trying to express our respect for a man that made an entire nation – arguably, the entire world – stop, listen, and begin to act to make the belief of decent men and women the reality for all men and women. How do you address the effect his words and message had and continue to have on something so seemingly unrelated as a baseball team?
Well, for starters, you go back to his words:
“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal’….
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character….
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”
And then you try to demonstrate HOW you respect those great words. Now, I don’t presume to suggest that a three-hour game played by professional athletes or a company meeting hosted in our facility creates a fraction of the impact of the famous “I Have a Dream” speech. But the way we in which we present that game or meeting or anything else happening at PeoplesBank Park can – and should – embody the spirit of Dr. King’s message.
Martin Luther King wanted this country to remember its roots and demonstrate the “self-evident” truths “that all men are created equal.” At the Revolution, we simply want to be the most welcoming place in York.
That was the message told to me two years ago when I took the position and agreed to champion the message and beliefs of this organization. That is the reason we do the things we do:
- We hire the best people, the ones dedicated to creating “Best Day Evers” for our fans and guests. Among them are people of every age and a wide range of ethnicities whose religious beliefs, sexual orientations, and political opinions are as diverse as those of the people who come through our gates.
- Our coaching staff and player roster features professionals from many countries and backgrounds who find common ground in the great American pastime.
- From the Silver Sluggers to the Rookie Revs, our fans span the spectrum of ages. From those parking in the handicap spaces in the Brooks Robinson Plaza lot to those meeting friends in Smalls Field, Revolution supporters represent people of all abilities. From those living in downtown York to those driving from the suburbs of Baltimore and the Lancaster countryside, Revs fans travel from diverse neighborhoods to the home of their common passion.
- Each season’s promotional schedule aims to celebrate the diversity and diverse interests within our community. Faith and Family Night, for example, recognizes the values and bonds of the greater York area. Our annual Sensory Friendly Night makes baseball possible for those with autism and other sensory-based disorders. We’ve regularly celebrated the heritage of parts of our community, as we did last September on Latin Heritage Night. And our first-ever LGBTQ Pride Night in 2017 achieved its goal of expressly celebrating another important portion of our diverse community – and was so well received it will be back for 2018.
- In and out of the baseball season, the Revolution demonstrates the commitment to community and service for which the MLK Day holiday has become a focal point. In 2018, we’ll again turn donations of food for those in need into free baseball game tickets on each Hunger Free Monday. It is our honor each year to thank veterans for service to our country through free tickets during our Memorial Day Salute to Veterans event. For many years, the Revolution and some of our sponsors have thanked police officers, firefighters, and EMTs with tickets to our Emergency Responders Night. And for the past two years, the staff members of the Revolution – who regularly volunteer together and individually for myriad causes and organizations in and around York – have recorded a 100% participation rate in the United Way’s annual campaign.
It’s the message I am proudest to convey and spread for this organization. In professional sports, an athlete’s action on the field demonstrates his or her true talent and heart, no matter what is said in the pre- or post-game interview. In the world of business, an organization’s actions in the community demonstrates its heart and values. The York Revolution values Dr. King’s dream.
Just like his, our dream is not yet fulfilled. There is still work to be done to make PeoplesBank Park the most welcoming place in York. And just like our team on the field, our team behind the scenes needs to recruit the right players to get us to our goal. As we start a new year and reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther King, I hope each of you reading this will sign or re-sign with the Revolution in making his dream come true.
- Doug Eppler, Director of Marketing and Communications