An Open Letter to Commissioner Rob Manfred

Letter

Mr. Manfred,

This weekend we attended the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and honestly had the time of our lives.  We have been baseball fans our entire lives and much of our friendship of the past 30 years has been around playing baseball, trading baseball cards, attending baseball games or simply just talking baseball.  We love the game and everything about it and are excited about your initiative of keeping baseball relevant for generations to come!  

This weekend was special for many reasons.  Seeing life long heroes in the flesh and deepening our understanding of the game and the many things that make it special through the Hall of Fame museum was incredible!  Our love for the game has only grown deeper because of what we experienced and we intend to pass it down to our kids.  

One of the events of the weekend that stood out to us most was your speech and clear communication that your focus has been and will continue to be how to make the game more relevant to the next generation.  While we are now no longer in this generation, we believe that we know them well and through our expertise can offer some insight to help you accomplish your goals:

  1. Better Leveraging Web Technology
    • Social Media - at the core of the internet today is social media.  We noticed that you personally are not engaged very much on social media and felt there was no encouragement of social media at the events this weekend.  We had to look hard to find a hashtag to use on our pictures as we're sure the majority of people had the same issue.  As loyal fans we want to be your loudest advocates online!  
    • Provide Internet Access - one of the things that we also found difficult was the inability to share our experience on social media because we could not access the internet.  We know Cooperstown is a small place, but we would recommend that every MLB event offer excellent Internet access for their fans to more effectively share their experiences online.   We are your greatest advocates and we will together begin to make Baseball relevant to this next generation. 
    • Website Optimization - your website is the central hub of baseball and it must be clear and engaging to make a great impression.  While the website experience for the events this weekend was easy to navigate, it felt like an afterthought.  
  2. Leverage New Technologies
    • Video Games - We know the general consensus among parents is that we want to get our kids outside more and away from technology.  We believe we can more effectively do this using the technology they're already on rather than fighting it.  As we look at the relevant video games kids are playing we hear about the latest NBA game or the newest Madden cover, but never Baseball.  We hear that it's just too complicated and confusing to play baseball video games.  We believe that investing heavily in the video game market (especially the Virtual Reality games) can quickly make baseball relevant again helping kids go from virtually playing baseball to physically playing baseball.  
    • Virtual Experiences - just like video games Virtual Reality experiences are developing fast.  We highly recommend creating virtual experiences for fans to virtually attend a game "sitting" in the dugout or possibly even getting a feel for what the catcher sees on a regular basis.  There are many opportunities here, but the more virtually you can connect young fans to the game, we believe the more engaged physically and emotionally they will become with the game as well.  
  3. Creating Intentional Experiences - while we understand that this weekend was unique and not necessarily designed for kids or teens, we believe the Cooperstown experience as a whole could be more intentionally engaging for the entire family.  Here are some ideas the came to mind:
    • Creative Signage - signage can do much more than tell you where to go.  Using signage to help tell stories or even stir conversations by incorporating trivia or other creative elements can go a long way.  Aside from the unique stores on Main St., navigating the streets was often confusing and uninteresting.  Honestly, the people there were great and willing to answer questions, but creative signage can better help tell baseball's rich history and entice kids from all ages. The story telling element should be utilized in all MLB experiences everywhere.
    • Bigger and Better Screens - this might have been one of our biggest let downs. Based on the growing trends of bigger and better screens, we were disappointed in the screens at the events this weekend.  They were underwhelming and often hard to see, which lead to us direct our attention elsewhere.  Not only were they hard to see, but the footage being played also lacked interactivity.  While there were great stories being told, there were many missed opportunities to create engagement through creative content to share to the thousands waiting for hours in the field before the induction ceremony.
    • Kids Interactive - we strongly believe that creating interactive experiences for kids is one of the greatest opportunities for MLB to engage the next generation.  Using interactive media and physical elements can tangibly create a unique experience for kids and Major League Baseball. Having a Hall experience specifically designed for kids, where parents can take their kids through would present an incredible "passing of the baton" moment. 

We know this might sound like a list of complaints.  That is not our goal at all.  Honestly, we had a blast this weekend and genuinely want to help the next generation develop the same love for the game that we have and maybe one year make the trek to see their favorite player inducted into the Hall of Fame. Our request is a meeting with your office to share more of our ideas and discuss how we might be able to help you in some way to better accomplish your goal of making baseball relevant to the next generation.  

Nils lives in Brooklyn and can be flexible to meet with you or someone else in your office at your convenience.  Feel free to contact us on this website and we would love the opportunity to discuss these things further. Thank you for your time and consideration. 

The Best is Yet to Come,

Nils Smith and Chris Tripputi