Although not an attorney, Mike Smith works closely with the Tigers’ legal staff on player contracts, compliance with Major League Baseball Collective Bargaining Agreements, player contract compliance, compliance with team rules, trades, movement of players up and down the minor league system, statistical and market analyses, baseball operations information technology issues and software development, and all other aspects of baseball operations. Having a bachelor’s degree in geology from Yale and hopes of becoming a meteorologist, Smith quickly became disenchanted with weather systems and knew he wanted to work in baseball because he loved the game.
To obtain a baseball job, he talked to different club employees, usually at spring training, so they knew who he was and his interest in working in baseball. His first baseball job came as an intern which eventually translated into a permanent position with another team due to his constant communication with the club employees he initially met during spring training. Smith came to the Tigers in 2002 after stints with teams in Florida and Pennsylvania. He encouraged the sports and entertainment law students to first and foremost love the game. He said that would allow them to take any available job in a sports franchise even if it meant a reduced salary and engaging in non-legal duties for a while to break into the business.
Field encouraged the students not to limit themselves to the legal department and to take any job they could get because every job has some legal aspects. He recommended students work for an established sports agent to learn the industry. He also said they should be willing to move when necessary, and start with a minor league team. He continued by saying they should not think they are too good for a particular position or task. Lastly, he said students should apply for one of the organization’s 30 paid internships, (none of which are in the legal department) because they provide insight into all administrative departments and a chance to meet Tigers’ employees as well as employees from other franchises. He advised that resumes should have sports education, training, and experience right up front, not buried at the end or omitted completely.
After thanking Smith and Field for their time and cooperation, SELS members watched the Tigers beat the Rays, and some closed the evening with food and drinks at a local restaurant. Admittedly, a good time was had by all who attended.
Attendees: Julie Janeway (SELS Faculty Advisor), Nycolle Schindlbeck (SELS President), Cameron Bell (V.P of Sports for SELS), Kenny Holmes (V.P. of Entertainment for SELS), Lori Padilla (SELS Secretary), Christine Galustians (SELS Treasurer), Antonio Burries*, Ranley Surgent*, Jessica Evangelista*, Joel Montilla*, James Goodman*, Leland Mack*, Josh Pettigrew*, Edward Speights*, Hulando Howard*, Alexandria Sullivan, Marta Schvets, Eric Falk, Ziadanne Lewis, and Dalton Carty
* denotes SELS members
Note: I thank SELS advisor Prof. Julie Janeway and SELS President Nycolle Schindlbeck for their assistance in completing this article. Also, I thank James Goodman and Ziadanne Lewis for transportation to and from the game.