Woman of the Year

January 26, 2013 • Posted in baseball, blindness, careers/jobs for people who are blind, Uncategorized by

We moved from Urbana to Geneva, Illinois in 1994, and during our three years there I worked for the Kane County Cougars (a minor league baseball team) in their group sales office. The staff was young, and refreshingly unimpressed by my blindness. Amy Mason, a recent college grad, was the one who hired me. She figured I could help answer the phone, route calls, and take ticket orders.

On my first day on the job, however, we discovered one small problem: their phone system used lights, rather than sounds, to indicate which line was ringing. Unfazed, Amy had me make outgoing calls instead. The kind of calls they hated making—contacting groups who hadn’t paid up, or trying to interest schools in special promotions. I didn’t much like these calls, either, but I figured it was a fair bargain. Free game tickets weren’t bad either!

That's Flo throwing out the first pitch at the Cougars game on her 80th birthday.

That’s Flo throwing out the first pitch at the Cougars game on her 80th birthday. (Photo by Cheryl May.)

I made a lot of friends at the Cougars during my years there, but I felt especially close to Amy. During one summer when our then-rambunctious-now responsible-nephew Robbie was staying with us, Amy took him out of my hair by putting him to work as an intern. She was a talented athlete and had played high school and college sports, and she cheered on my great-niece Anita, who was a toddler then, to become the basketball superstar she is today. Flo turned 80 in 1996, and when we all decided to invite friends and family to join us in celebrating FloFest in a big tent at a Cougars game, Amy was instrumental in making everything go smoothly, including making arrangements for Flo to throw out the first pitch. It rolled right over the plate.

I sold a lot of tickets for the Cougars, and during my time there I helped the group sales office expand their schools program. Working with a minor league team’s energetic, upbeat and goofy staff helped rebuild a lot of the confidence that had slipped away when I lost my sight.

Today Amy Mason is the Director of Ticket Services and Community Relations for the Kane County Cougars, and the Cougars are now the A Team for the Chicago Cubs. The Pitch and Hit Club is honoring Amy with their Woman of the Year Award tomorrow night, and Mike, Whitney and I will be in the audience cheering her on.

Some other notables will be there as well: former White Sox manager Tony La Russa and Hall of Famer Rich “Goose” Gossage are the headliners, and the entertainment will be provided by, who else? My beloved baseball organist Nancy Faust. The biggest star there, of course, will be Amy Mason. She still stands out as a model for how, with a little patience and very little fanfare, hiring someone with a disability can work out well. For everybody.

Liz Kozikowski On January 26, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Now that’s a great story! Thanks Beth

bethfinke On January 26, 2013 at 4:04 pm

You are welcome. As you might imagine, this is a very fun story to tell.

Jen Ulen On January 26, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Oh Amy, clearly a saint for dealing with that brother of mine! Such great memories from the Kane County Cougars! Congrats to Amy, clearly much deserved!!

bethfinke On January 26, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Truth is, Amy was such a gifted manager that she pawned your brother Robbie off on another co-worker. Her name is Jennifer, just like yours, so of course Robbie took to her instantly.
Kane County Jennifer lives in Denver now — I caught up with her when Mike and I were out there last Fall. It will come as no surprise to you that she remembers Robbie and asked about him – imagine her surprise to learn he is a grown up dad now!

Nancy B On January 26, 2013 at 4:47 pm

those games are so much fun…..want to go to another one sometime. I can imagine that they have a great staff.

Maria On January 26, 2013 at 11:04 pm

Congratulations to Amy! She sounds like quite a girl and surely deserves the award! Enjoy the evening….sounds like it should be great.

nancyfaustjenkins On January 28, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Beth, A big thanks to you and Mike for paying me a visit at last night’s Pitch and Hit banquet. Your loyalty to and appreciation of Amy Mason is now very clear. I am proud to be her “co-worker” and certainly your ears will be buzzing when I have the opportunity to see her in the Spring. Loved meeting handsome Whitney. It’s clear that she too, loves you.

bethfinke On January 29, 2013 at 9:33 am

Oh, Nancy, I enjoyed chatting with you Sunday night and then, especially, hearing all your clever songs throughout the evening.
I lit up at every song you played. My personal fave was “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport” for Tyrone Brooks. “Wildfire” for award-winner Mike Pinto was a close second. And it goes without saying that “My Guy” was the perfect tune for Tony La Russa, especially after he gave you that well-deserved compliment during his speech.
My friend Amy did the right thing by staying home Sunday night –not worth risking the drive from the far western suburbs during an ice storm! – but I have a feeling you would have been ready for her if she’d been there to accept her award: “Amy’ by Pure Prairie League? Or perhaps the old favorite “Once in Love with Amy.”

nancyfaustjenkins On January 29, 2013 at 9:53 am

Beth, you keep the memory of the greatest aspect of my Sox career alive. And that’s the special unforgettable folks I was privileged to meet. Much love- Nancy

The best job I ever had | Safe & Sound blog On August 8, 2014 at 1:55 pm

[…] home games for the Cougars ever since retiring from her White Sox gig in 2008, and my friend Amy Mason is the Director of Ticket Operations for the Cougars. So of course Amy set us up with a row of tickets right in front of Nancy — […]

Leave a Response