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AFRC Recruiter builds major relationship with minor league team

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Chance Babin
For many, baseball is not just a sport, it’s a season and a lifestyle. America’s pastime. It’s also fair to say that minor league baseball is the most successful minor/development league of any professional sport. With 176 teams across 14 leagues, most of them affiliated with professional teams, any state you go to will most likely have a few teams.

Minor League Baseball is often at the center of small communities, drawing in fans with hometown appeal. An Air Force Reserve Command Recruiting Service rookie recruiter has seized the opportunity to be part of his community’s team and make the Air Force Reserve a mainstay at the games.

Master Sgt. Daniel Bedford, an AFRC recruiter in Richmond, Virginia and assigned to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, has built a relationship with the Richmond Flying Squirrels AA baseball team, an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants organization, its general manager and the fan base, setting himself up for future success. He gained one accession directly from the ballpark this season and has many leads he is still working.

“I believe it's so important to partner with our communities within sports,” Bedford said. “Our country’s morale revolves around bringing families together to support and connect with our favorite sports programs. I've been competing in sports my whole life and felt as a rookie recruiter why not start connecting in my zone at America's pastime.”

When Bedford was assigned to March Air Reserve Base, California, as a maintenance troop, he had a relationship with the Lake Elsinore Storm, another AA team affiliated with the San Diego Padres, where he assisted the team with community events.

Along with being a Reservist, Bedford is a personal trainer and has worked with athletes in the past. He is also a distinguished power lifter, competing for more than 20 years with the USA Powerlifting Federation. He has won four gold medals in the bench press and strict barbell curl event. So his former relationships and sports knowledge helped him forge a relationship with the Flying Squirrels organization.

“I was able to connect with the front office of the Richmond Flying Squirrels right away. I connected with their chief operating officer, Todd ‘Parney’ Parnell, who has avidly supported our military over the years with having a salute to soldiers at every seventh inning stretch and the seat of the Unknown Soldier located at home plate, honoring the soldiers that were POWs.”

Bedford saw this as a great opportunity to strike up a relationship with his hometown team.

“We came to an agreement to have our huge digital media AFRC banner on the outfield scoreboard throughout the season, along with six home game table set-ups to meet and greet the fans to increase the public's view of the Reserve,” Bedford said.

Bedford’s hard work paid off as he was able to enlist Airman Basic Charles Varone into the Reserve after meeting him at a game and working the lead.

“I enlisted him last month,” he said. “He was hired into the operations support squadron at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. He filled out one of my lead cards at my table and I was able to contact him and the rest is history. I believe my newest Airman thought it was cool that the Air Force Reserve was the only sponsored military branch at the game this year.”

While this minor league season is over, Bedford knows it’s only the beginning for him working with the Flying Squirrels. He has put in the time and built relationships with the team and community.

“I finished the baseball season Labor Day weekend and it was extremely productive with over 500 total visits to my table and over 18 solid leads through six games, including the one accession,” he said. “The organization was extremely supportive and placed my event table strategically behind the home plate area. The planning and working hand in hand with each other increased my network ability with being able to meet and greet massive amounts of fans coming through the main home plate ticketing area.”

Bedford plans to hit the ground running next season and continue ingraining himself into the community of Richmond, Virginia. He said he simply uses basic marketing tools such as giving out promotional items like cups, flyers and dog tags.

“Beyond that I think the most important thing I can bring is a positive smile,” he said.