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Thu Jun 20 2002
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Chances are you've never heard of Glenn Geffner or John Dever. Yet make no mistake about it: they are living out boyhood dreams, following baseball’s boys of summer every day and getting paid to do it. It's one fun job.

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Geffner and Dever work in the Padres public relations department, traveling across the country for seven months.

“When your job is to go to a baseball game just about every day for seven months straight, there’s worse things going,” Dever quipped. “Every thing you do all day is to get ready for the game, either here or in another city, so it’s not a bad gig.”

“I’ve been a baseball fan since I was very young,” Dever explained, who can remember exact details of the first big league game he ever witnessed. “August 9, 1980. Yankees versus the Orioles and Reggie Jackson was in right field. Steve Stone pitched for the Orioles.”

But Dever's and Geffner's job does present its challenges.

“There are certainly a lot of great things about it,” added Geffner, now in his sixth season with the Padres. “And a lot of things that the average person would say, ‘Boy, I’d love to have that job.’ But between the travel and the hours and the demands, it’s kind of a never-ending thing.”

“Really from the first of the year until the end of the season you hardly get a day off,” Geffner explained. “Because from the first of the year until spring training you’re cranking on the media guide full-time trying to meet deadlines. Then once you get to spring training there’s never a day off there. In season, whether the team’s at home or on the road, you’ve still got to do the work of the day.”

Every day, Padre fans locally and across the world by land, sea and air, follow the team’s progress through the print and broadcast media.

What many fans may not realize however is that writers and broadcasters have a helping hand, which enables them to distribute this information to Padre fans as accurately as possible and as quickly as possible. That’s where Geffner and the three public relations assistants on his staff, Dever, Steve Hoem and Karen Slaton, come into the picture.

But said Geffner: “Media relations is only part of public relations.”

Much of the preparation surrounds the "game notes," which the PR crew puts together to assist writers and broadcasters with disseminating information to the fans. The notes provide in-depth insight via statistics on who’s hot and who’s not, and how players have performed against one another. In fact, the notes are so full of information they’re like a daily Baseball Encyclopedia.

“That’s the most tangible aspect of our job that people see the most," Dever said. "Writing is a big part of my job.”

And his team not only handles the public and media relations for the Padres but also writes and produces the publications such as Padres Magazine, the Padres media guide and press releases, plus other tasks.

“Among the four of us, somehow everything gets done. I don’t know how!” Geffner quipped. “It’s changed a lot over the five years I’ve been here. My first year in ‘97 was an intern and myself actually - for a lot of the season. The team has developed and allowed me to do a lot of (different) things and to delegate a lot more.”

In addition to overseeing the day-to-day operations, Geffner plays a major role with the Padres Magazine, Padres Yearbook and the team’s television programming, Padres Report. The broadcasting end has enabled Geffner to return to his roots. Prior to joining the organization, Geffner handled broadcasting and media relations chores for the Rochester Red Wings, the Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.

Geffner said it’s at the Triple-A level that you really learn if this job is right for you.

“You have to be able to live the life,” he said.

The travel is often the most brutal part of the job, since only one member of the public relations staff joins the team on the road. With such limited resources, you can rest assured no one from this group is hitting the clubs in New York after a Saturday night game at Shea Stadium.

“I don’t enjoy it at like 3:10 in the morning,” Dever said. “Sometimes the hours can be a little much, especially when it’s your 19th game in 19 days. There’s no real weekends. It is a challenge. It’s physically draining. Sometimes it’s tough to stay awake in the early afternoon.”

Dever studied communications at Syracuse University, earning a communications degree before going to work for the Rochester Red Wings. Dever worked with Geffner in Rochester and before the 1998 season got the call to the big leagues.

And what timing is was.

During Dever’s first season in San Diego, the Padres won just their second National League pennant in team history. It is a moment Dever is not soon to forget, who was in Atlanta when the Padres beat the Braves to advance to the World Series.

“Just knowing you were flying to New York to play the Yankees at Yankee Stadium was sublime to really believe it,” Dever explained. “It was pretty cool. My first big league game was at Yankee Stadium so it was kind of a full circle type scenario.”

Geffner’s fondest Padres memories? He said the team’s 1998 run to the National League pennant ranks near the top, especially the Division Series victory over Houston because it was clinched in San Diego. His other fond memories include Tony Gwynn’s run to 3,000 hits.

So the next time you're at the ballpark, and see all those folks following the hordes of media, you'll know who they are - and how hard they work - living out their childhood dreams.

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Jun 20 2002, 03:36:11
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