Picture this: You’re walking into Safeco Field right after the gates open, and you hear Centerfield blaring over the speakers. (Put me in, Coach! I’m ready to plaaaaaay, todaaaaay!) You see the first pitch — or first pitches, as oxymoronic as that is — and settle into your seat to watch the game.
It doesn’t matter what the score is, or who’s in the lineup, because your eyes are glued to everything else going on. There’s dozens of different videos shown on Mariners Vision, activities happening between innings, and even more. Win or lose, you’ve (hopefully) had a great time.
If you did, then you have one person in particular to thank: Mandy Lincoln, the Mariners’ Director of Marketing, a lifelong Pacific Northwest resident and Mariners fan. The baseball bug bit Lincoln at a young age, as her father has been a season ticket holder since 1978.
“He still has them to this day, even though I’m working here,” Lincoln said with a laugh. “I first remember going to games in the early 90s. My earliest memory is [falling] hook, line, and sinker with the 95 season ... That’s where it all started, and it hasn’t wavered since.”
That fandom remained for years, whether she was away at college or working for an advertising magazine in London.
Like many college students, she wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted to do after graduation with her degree. As a marketing major, she decided to find opportunities to differentiate her résumé through working with the Western Washington University athletic department, contributing to various projects, and becoming the president of the Western marketing club.
It was that exact marketing club where, 11 years ago, Randy Adamack spoke to a crowd of interested students, including Lincoln. Adamack, a Senior Vice President with the Mariners, was able to put Lincoln in touch with Kevin Martinez, the team’s Senior Vice President of Marketing.
“He said there was nothing coming available, but they typically have the same position coming up each year,” Lincoln said. “I decided to hold tight and wait until next January when this would be posted.”
After five months in London, watching the 2007 Mariners almost make the playoffs on the strength of Ichiro, Adrián Beltré, and a negative run differential, Lincoln came back and applied for the seasonal marketing position. Fortunately for her, and for the Mariners, she was selected.
“I know not everyone gets their dream job to work for their childhood team right out of college, but the stars aligned for me ... Once I came in, I didn’t pump the brakes, I hit the gas,” Lincoln said.
Lincoln’s role with the Mariners is multi-faceted, to say the least. No matter the product on the field, it’s the marketing department’s job to get fans to the ballpark and to improve the game experience for everyone. During the season, much of her time is spent on two different areas: game presentation, as mentioned above, and advertising efforts.
If the team is winning, Lincoln said, fans tend to flock to the ballpark no matter what. But if the team is losing, then it’s her job (and the job of the rest of the marketing department) to reinforce the sense of community at the ballpark.
It’s also Lincoln’s job to figure out how to promote the players during the games as well. Remember all those videos that play between innings? Those are generally taped during spring training, and Lincoln talked in depth about one of the most popular videos in detail: “Flashy or Trashy?” with Dee Gordon.
Favorite Dee Gordon Flashy or Trashy to date has to be vegetables.— Lydia Cruz (@TheLydiaCruz) June 17, 2018
“I don’t eat vegetables, so on principle, they trashy.”
*heart grows three sizes* pic.twitter.com/SsHz4Q8KKy
“Dee’s fantastic. He’s got such a great personality, he’s happy to chat with us, he wants to laugh,” Lincoln said, laughing as I emphasized my love for this particular segment. “Anytime we can capture the personality of the players and be able to share that with our fans and humanize them, those are what those features are supposed to be.”
On a more granular level, Lincoln’s day-to-day life during the season focuses on the micro of each game. Or, more specifically, the micro-events that happen every single night.
No biggie my dads at the Mariner’s game last night and Alice In Chains is sitting couple rows from him. They give him a custom Alice In Chains mariners shirt. Wtf where was I pic.twitter.com/S5DO38DtfB— T Storms (@tavlor_storms) August 22, 2018
When we spoke on Monday, Lincoln mentioned the three micro-events going on that night: Alice in Chains Night, hosting 700 fans for a t-shirt and a listening party with the band; Game of Thrones Night, where fans could actually sit on the Iron Throne; and Korean Heritage Night.
With 81 home games every season, it’s not easy to get fans out to fill those seats night in and night out, and it’s important to find new groups of fans whenever possible. From working on those events to finalizing the timings and scripts for the game presentation each night, Lincoln has her hands full, and that’s before we even get to the long-term planning or all her offseason work. Mariners FanFest is the focus of Lincoln’s November...and December...and January.
“I’ve had a hybrid role of game presentation and advertising,” Lincoln said. “A lot of people get put into these buckets for just the game presentation side, or just the production side, but I’ve been able to ride that line my entire career.”
Of course, planning FanFest does come with at least a few fringe benefits: Lincoln was the first person to ride the famed zipline that has appeared over Safeco during the last few FanFests.
“People love [the zipline] and they wait in line for hours, which boggles my mind,” Lincoln noted.
The coolest moment of Lincoln’s career — hands down — comes from her time planning the Ken Griffey Jr. number retirement weekend, and the Mariners’ front office trip to Cooperstown for his induction. In case you couldn’t tell from her Twitter handle (that “24” at the end really should be a giveaway), The Kid is her favorite player, and planning the events around his induction was, in her words, “pretty magical.”
But whether she’s celebrating Junior, hoping to plan another ceremony next summer for Edgar Martínez, or watching her current favorite player (Félix) pitch, Lincoln savors every last bit of her time with the Mariners. That extends to being a woman in a male-dominated industry, which Lincoln referred to multiple times as being “empowering” while also noting that she would love MLB and the Mariners to have more female executives within their ranks. And it also extends to her ability to mentor others, which started thanks to her role overseeing the Navigators, many of whom managed to find full-time positions with other pro sports teams in part due to advice given from Lincoln and other members of the front office.
Women in Baseball Night on Tuesday was a great moment, with hundreds of fans and a healthy contingent of Mariners officials in attendance. That event, and these profiles this week, aim to not only encourage and help women to pursue careers in professional baseball, but to bring these issues of gender inequality and societal roadblocks into the open. The recent Seattle Times article about sexual harassment within the M’s front office was deeply disturbing to many M’s fans, but Lincoln found a glimmer of hope in the shockwaves from that report.
“This is an opportunity for us to talk,” Lincoln emphasized. “Whether you’re male or female, this is an opportunity for us to start conversations that should be had and need to be had.”