Remembering 2014: The “Core Four”
The off-season is upon us, but we have plenty of content to keep you occupied here at BlogToBlogChamps. Each Monday, we’ll publish a feature from the 2014 York Revolutionary Times, the official game day magazine of the York Revolution, for you to re-enjoy, or read for the first time in case you missed it at the ballpark. This week, we take a closer look at the four original Revolution employees that have been with the organization since its founding in 2007.
By Paul Braverman
In 2009 as the New York Yankees were winning their final World Series title with the last of the holdovers from their late-90s dynasty, the group of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada were quickly dubbed the “Core Four.”
Two seasons removed from the York Revolution’s mini-dynasty of back to back Atlantic League titles, fans may not realize York’s own “Core Four” is still intact, albeit one that doesn’t directly impact the game on the field. Darrell Henry, Lori Brunson, Cindy Brown and John Gibson are the last of the original employees who started before the Revolution first took the field in 2007.
Like the New York group, the common thread of commitment to team, professionalism and skill is apparent with the York Core Four, but deep ties to Pennsylvania make it a group that has gladly accepted the challenge of being the organization’s backbone.
“I sent out materials to almost every minor league team, but this is where I wanted to be. It was my obsession,” says broadcaster Darrell Henry, recalling the nerve-wracking application process to be the first, and to this point, only voice of the Revolution, at the perfect intersection of his college graduation and the team’s inaugural game.
“I remember looking at our stadium artists’ renderings and thinking about how sweet it would be once it was finished,” said Henry, the York native and York College of PA alum.
For Revolution Finance Manager Lori Brunson, like her fellow YCP alum Henry, there was little doubt that if she was to enter a career in professional baseball, it would be in her hometown.
“Having always kept the connection to York even though I was working in Maryland as an accountant, I always stayed on top of what was going on. It had been a long, drawn out process before it became a reality. At that same time there was a listing for an accountant for the Lancaster Barnstormers – so I asked ownership, ‘would you have that same position in York when the team gets up and running?’
Luckily, the answer was yes, and the Revolution didn’t allow its longest tenured employee to escape to their regional rival before taking the field for the first time.
“Knowing that it was going to come to my hometown, this is where I wanted to be. I feel like I didn’t waste my parent’s money going to college for accounting, because I was able to marry my college degree and my professional background with a passion for baseball,” said Brunson.
Lancaster native Cindy Brown, another alum of YCP, can no doubt match the most faces with names on any given night at Santander Stadium. Beginning in 2007, she ascended from working in the ticket office, to Box Office Manager, to Director of Ticketing by the 2010 season. In her role she is directly hands on with the accounts of anyone who purchases a season ticket plan, from all 70 home games to as little as 10 games; in essence the most passionate fans the Revolution can claim.
What those die-hard fans might not realize however, is unlike Henry and Brunson who targeted York from the beginning, Brown actually was a Barnstormer her rookie year as an intern in 2006.
“I went home to vote, and on that Tuesday night my mom shows me an ad in the paper about a job fair for the team. I interviewed and they offered me an internship, when all I was really looking for was a summer job, and that’s how I got into the Atlantic League.”
Brown’s customer service talents are no accident however, and like Henry, as a sport management major at YCP she was leaving school just as the Revolution were launching. Her ‘Stormer-to-Rev transition didn’t take long, despite her red rose roots. While the other members of the Core Four in lockstep listed the first game at Sovereign Bank Stadium, the 2010 & 2011 championship runs and the 2011 All-Star Game as their favorite Revolution memories, Brown, who used to be Cindy Burkholder, met her husband Kenny at the ballpark while he helped manage stadium concessions for the first three years.
“I think I should probably put him as my number one memory,” she said. But now that this is home and she’s York through and through, a few memories come in at a close second, even at the Barnstormers expense; “I remember when we won (Game 5 of the 2011 Division Series) in Lancaster, I was exit greeting our fans at their stadium as they left because we were going back to the championship series.”
Because of her first year in 2006, Brown is the owner of three championship rings, including Lancaster’s lone ALPB title. She doesn’t pace the office in hardware however. That distinction goes to John Gibson, who began in corporate sales with the Revolution, and has since transitioned to Assistant General Manager, overseeing the marketing and facility operations of the organization.
Unlike his fellow Core Four, Gibson’s career in baseball has made multiple stops which is somewhat typical of the industry, never getting too comfortable – until now.
“As people who are baseball lifers know, one opportunity to move up the food chain is when there’s a new team. The chance to advance my career drew me here, but I grew up in Pennsylvania, I love Pennsylvania and wanted to get back here. It was a great opportunity for me and I think it’s a positive direction right now with our league, in terms of growth potential. It’s trending in the right direction,” said Gibson, born in Allentown, raised in Quakertown and a Penn State main campus alum.
Only Gibson can beat Brown’s Atlantic League tenure of eight seasons in the Revolution office, having also worked for the Somerset Patriots for three seasons (2004-2006), and the Brockton (MA) Rox for two prior to that (2002-2003). He collected championship rings in 2002 and 2005 with those organizations in addition to his two in York, and 2014 marks his 13th consecutive season in the industry, and 11th in the Atlantic League.
For Gibson and the others, the long hours, evenings and early morning tarp pulls the industry demands are a small price to pay, for a very good answer to the question of ‘what do you do for a living?’
“I think the best way to sum it up is 365 days out of the year, 70 of them we have a game on. Yeah those could be 14-, 16-hour days and there are some other long days in there. But we get to come to work at a beautiful stadium, looking out at a beautiful baseball field, so it’s not bad at all in the context of the number of hours the average person is putting in nowadays,” said Gibson.
So of the York “Core Four,” who will be Derek Jeter, in other words, the final Rev standing? To hear them tell it, we won’t be coming to that conclusion anytime soon, as the best the front office has to offer is as committed as ever with the Revolution nearing the completion of their first decade.
“Whatever we do, however the team is doing, my best memories are when we have thrilling wins at home in front of our fans. Those are the things that stand out first,” said Henry, whose addiction to the atmosphere of a game at Santander Stadium radiates when he talks about his career.
Gibson agrees: “I think it’s pretty rare that there’s an actual 40-hour work week anymore. People work two jobs, three jobs, extra time at their primary job. So if we work a lot but get to come to this place, I think we’re doing pretty well.”