Phillies Director of Fun & Games John Brazer spoke to Rowan University students during Monday’s Pizza with The Pros on Nov. 8.
Having worked for the Phillies for 29 years, Brazer treated students to helpful tricks involving longevity, persistence and creativity.
Brazer was prepared to answer any and all questions about his job title “Director of Fun & Games.” Brazer explained his responsibilities as a “hybrid of PR & Marketing,” sharing the title’s origin story.
In his early days with the Philadelphia Phillies, Brazer would find that, when doing public appearances on the radio, he would find himself explaining his previous job title rather than promoting whatever the Phillies assigned him. It was safe to say that a man who is the face of the public relations and marketing offices spending too much defining their occupation was a logistical flaw.
Director of Fun & Games was the brainchild of Brazer himself. He knew he needed an “all-encompassing title” due to his unique position inside the organization.
No one else shares this title in Major League Baseball (MLB), except for, an unsuspecting friend in Minor League Baseball, Bill Murray. Murray has been a familiar face in baseball and not only has ownership of a Minor League team, but is titled “Director of Fun.” Through a long story of the infamous Disco Demolition and other PR-mishaps, Murray’s title is directly related to that of Brazer.
Brazer was asked about the difficulty to maintain his high-standing position in a highly competitive industry. He was quick to mention how he did not have the traditional path of an internship and working his way up, he got his job through networking. Will power, commitment and dedication to his craft have kept Brazer in the industry for almost three decades.
Due to his high standing in a baseball front office, a student asked about what he thinks about those who consider the sport to be dying. He mentioned how in basketball and football, most prospects are pretty well-known nationally when they come out of college, perhaps even high school. Baseball and hockey, on the other hand, require longer development, therefore player recognition is far lower.
The Phillies Director of Fun & Games refuted the idea that baseball is a dying sport, and instead mentioned how it needs “tweaking.” He likes the 7-inning doubleheader rule but scoffed at the idea of keeping extra-innings beginning with a runner on second base.
“It’s certainly not growing.” This rebuttal from a student in attendance seemed to encapsulate every point Brazer made about the sport of baseball. How, no matter these uber-marketable players and consistent rule changes, the MLB cannot escape the overall slow-moving nature of baseball.
Luckily, the Phillies have one of the few guys in baseball who exceeded these limitations.
In early March 2019, the Phillies signed Bryce Harper to a 13-year, $330 million, record-setting contract with the highest price tag in the history of the MLB. This large figure was in part due to his stellar play on the diamond, but Brazer mentioned that the fact that Harper is “his own brand” factored into the $330 million. It is rare to find a player who transcends the tranquility of baseball, and the Phillies have one of them.
“He’s not from the east coast, but he has the east coast mentality, ” Brazer continued to speak wonders on the Phillies star. “He embraced Philly the moment he stepped off the plane.”
Harper’s play is one thing, but his ability to succeed at being his own brand is monumental for the organization, and more specifically, Brazer’s office itself.
Brazer concluded his talk by discussing the upcoming MLB All-Star Game that will be hosted in Philadelphia in 2026.
He spoke about how David Montgomery, a Philadelphia legend and long-time owner of the Phillies, wanted the city to celebrate the country’s Semiquincentennial (250th anniversary).
Following the conventional Veterans Stadium, the Phillies were re-homed to the retro-modern Citizens Bank Park. Having been asked by MLB ever since its opening in 2004, Montgomery made sure to wait for Citizens Bank Park to host the All-Star game until this 250th anniversary. He knew, long before anyone else, that it would mean something extra special to the city to host such a patriotic event.
Brazer spoke about Montgomery with such passion and reverence, mentioning how “He was one of, if not the best people I have ever met.” Montgomery, who passed away after a five-year fight with cancer in May of 2019, was able to witness his dream fulfilled by the MLB just a month prior.
Pizza with the Pros will return next week when NBC Sports Philadelphia analyst Amy Fadool speaks to Rowan students about her journey to Philly sports media.
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