This Week: Pete Laven, general manager of the Arkansas Travelers
Pete Laven has been general manager of the Arkansas Travelers, now based in Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock, since 2007.
Bio: Pete Laven
Background: Laven, 42, is a native of LaGrange, Ill. His experience working in professional baseball organizations began in 1992 and includes stints with the Kane County Cougars in Illinois, Albany Polecats in Georgia and Piedmont Boll Weevils in North Carolina. He joined the Travelers, a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Los Angeles Angels, in 2000.
Education: Laven holds a bachelor's in journalism from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill.
Q: What are your daily work responsibilities?
A: In my career, my responsibilities have ranged from being the guy that blew off the fireworks after home runs in Kane County in 1994 to securing 21 luxury suite leases for the inaugural season at Dickey-Stephens Park in 2007. Now as GM, I get to draw on all of my experiences and each day is different. I can be on the telephone with the league president one minute and with one of our bat boys' mothers the next. In the off-season, my main focus is sponsorship and suite sales, but what I enjoy most is putting together our promotional event calendar. During the season, it is my responsibility to oversee our various departments, coordinate daily events with our coaching staff and players and promote Travelers baseball any way I possibly can.
Q: What is the best-selling item from the concession stands?
A: That is and, I imagine, always will be the hot dog.
Q: Where did the Travs' mascot come from and what does it have to do with Arkansas and the team?
A: Sometimes confused with a moose, "Shelly" is actually an androgynous horse that has been roaming the Travs' ballpark since 1996. I wasn't here when they came up with the concept, but I believe the origination is from either General Lee's horse being named Traveler or the fact that the famous minstrel, the Arkansas Traveler - whom our ballclub is named after - roamed the Ozarks on a horse.
Q: Are there some policies you've implemented as general manager that you're most proud of?
A: Now that we have a larger staff at the new ballpark, we have added a few policies such as mandatory staff meetings the day before every home stand and every Friday morning during the off-season. I think it is important for everyone to have the opportunity to speak on any issue in front of the entire front office staff.
Q: What about your job do you think would surprise most casual baseball fans?
A: Many casual fans will ask what we do in the off-season to stay busy. The truth is the off-season is in many ways busier and more critical to the success of our operation than the five months we are in season. With sponsorship, season and group ticket sales being the driving force, our constant goal each off-season is to create and implement fresh ideas that will improve the fan experience at Dickey-Stephens Park. The baseball season brings 15-hour days and a whole different kind of intensity, but a successful off-season will allow us to see the fruits of our labor during the season.
Q: What was your reaction to seeing Ray Winder Field demolished?
A: Sad, of course, but it was certainly time for it to happen, given the circumstances. I really wish it could have been preserved as a ballpark for local high schools and men's leagues.