Spartans at Work: Oakland A’s

(This summer, SJSU Today hit the road, visiting students and recent grads on the job at summer destinations throughout the Bay Area. Our 2013 Spartans at Work series continues with radio-television-film alumnus Marcus Gonzalez and hospitality, tourism and event management alumnus Ellison DeCastro.)

On a breezy summer evening, fans decked out in green, gold and white head into O.Co Coliseum to root, root, root for the home team. As streams of people make their way through Gate D, they pass by the Oakland A’s Kids Club booth.

There, Ellison DeCastro, ’11 Hospitality, Tourism and Event Management, talks with the youngsters, who stop by to receive the latest stamp in their passport books. They’re working their way up to earn bigger prizes. In the meantime, with a spin of the wheel, will they win a pencil, key chain or temporary tattoo?

As attendees settle into their seats less than 15 minutes before the first pitch, Stomper the elephant mascot and the Oakland A’s promotions crew make their way around the warning track. The entourage includes Marcus Gonzalez, ’10 Radio-Television-Film, who throws beaded necklaces to the excited crowd along the way.

As members of the A’s promotions crew, DeCastro and Gonzalez push the A’s brand and team at Bay Area community events as well as within the concrete walls of the coliseum.

“If it’s a close game, we come out here to cheer, interact with the fans, throw beads or kind of get them riled up a bit, get them excited, pumped up, especially if they’re quiet,” Gonzalez said.

Before the game begins and while it is in session, DeCastro and Gonzalez search for people to participate in promotions and contests between innings. This involves a lot of chatting with fans to find the right candidates.

“The most fun part is interaction with fans,” DeCastro said. Watching a little bit of baseball now and then is a job perk, but he said he lives to “show great hospitality, making fans want to come back out.”

It may be hard to believe now, but Gonzalez was shy when he started attending SJSU. Then he began to break out of his shell when he became involved with the campus radio station KSJS. Being a deejay and representing the station at events turned out to be great practice for his current job.

Both Gonzalez and DeCastro earned spots on the SJSU/Pebble Beach Special Event Management Team, which gives students the opportunity to manage hospitality workers during the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. 

Gonzalez said that experience helped him to begin “seeing myself as a manager, a working professional,” and that “bringing what I learned at Pebble Beach here to the A’s has helped me.”

One of the perks of living in the Bay Area is the many professional sports teams, each with promotions crews and other opportunities for people interested in sports-related careers.  For a lifelong A’s fan like DeCastro, he is exactly where he wants to be.

“It’s pretty much a kid’s dream to work for his favorite baseball team,” he said.