Our chairman, Ron Shapiro, recently traveled to Arizona and Florida to check in on some of his clients during Major League Baseball’s Spring Training. While he did catch a few innings, most of his time was spent building and strengthening relationships. It just goes to show that the game is important, but the relationships made outside the lines are just as, if not more, valuable. Taking the emphasis on relationships that has worked so well as a sports agent into the business world has led Ron to become a change agent.
How many Spring Trainings have you been to and how does this most recent trip compare to your first?
I’ve been going since 1975, so almost 40 years. My most recent trip was much shorter than my first trip because Shapiro Negotiations Institute takes up more of my time. I also used to spend most of Spring Training in Florida because that’s where the majority of facilities were. Now, many teams train in Arizona so I spend about half of my time out there. Another difference is it’s become a lot less personal now in the sense that the new stadiums and facilities put a greater distance between the players and the fans. The older facilities allowed for a more personal feel.
What was the purpose of your trip?
I see players and club officials and spend time with them to learn what’s on their minds. I actually see relatively few innings of baseball games. If I watch 2-3 innings of a game that’s a lot. The purpose of my trips isn’t about seeing games, but connecting with people. I take the things we preach at Shapiro Negotiations Institute, like building relationships, and apply them.
Do a lot of other agents do the same thing you do at Spring Training?
It’s always been the case for agents to meet with clients during Spring Training. It’s a relatively low pressure environment and allows for higher time availability for players. It’s not the game-to-game grind of the regular season. Players only play in parts of games so they are much freer, which is great because it allows for more 1 on 1 time.
Do you have any memorable stories from this or any other Spring Training?
I’m in baseball because I love the people involved in the sport. This is the time when I get the best opportunity to engage with these individuals. Meeting with great people and families, like the Mauers, Ripkens, and Pucketts, is a wonderful experience.
One memory that stands out was being able to step in to hit a few pitches. I love the feeling of a wooden bat hitting a leather covered baseball. When they were kind and threw the ball up to me…it went well. When they showed me their stuff…it didn’t go so well.