Pamela Pitts does it all for the A's
Pamela Pitts started her career with the Oakland A's in November, 1981 as the minor league and public relations secretary. In 1993 she became the first woman on the baseball side of a Major League Baseball organization to receive a director title. Pitts is now in her 18th year as director of baseball administration. All paperwork regarding the team's baseball operations bears Pitts' fingerprints. She manages the day-to-day business side of baseball operations, from minor to major league staff, contract administration, player records, waivers and payroll issues. espnW caught up with Pitts to talk to her as part of our ongoing Power Play series highlighting women in the sports business.
espnW: You were the first woman in Major League Baseball to be given a director title in the baseball department of a team. How did people react to that?
Pam Pitts: You know, I took a lot of [grief] about "What does she know about baseball?" After 31 seasons, I tell people I don't know anything about baseball. Would I be the one trying to throw my two cents in on who's ready to come up from the minors? Are you kidding? The guys would laugh me out of the place. But when they need to know anything about the rules, the waivers, how things are done, that's what I know, and that's what I'm good at. That is why Sandy [Alderson, then the general manager of the A's] decided the director's title was appropriate.
espnW: I'm sure there's no such thing as a "typical" day for you, so tell me about your day so far today.
PP: I fire up the computer and check my e-mail. I get the medical report from our minor league teams. I scan that to see if anybody was injured badly. ... I have been trying to get some immigration matters taken care of. ... Setting up files for major league player contracts, all the follow-up details, thousands of details. Getting players out of their apartments. ... I got a call from a minor league player from the state of Louisiana. They want him to file a tax return for two days he played in New Orleans in 2007. His daily rate was 542 bucks. I work closely with the folks who do the major league pension. ... I'm notifying people of the details that you have to tell people about.
espnW: Tell me about an "I can't believe this is my job" moment you've had over the years.
PP:One time I took Lamaze classes with one of the wives because she was absolutely positive her husband was not going to make it back from the road trip when she delivered. She was scared to death and I said I'd be glad to. I was taking the Lamaze class up until the very bitter end and, of course, the baby came when the team was home.
espnW: What's it like being a senior woman in a male-dominated organization?
PP: I think women can fill a very, very important role. ... It comes from the top. I think a lot of us are extremely lucky to have Sandy Alderson who said, "If they're discussing rules and information you need to know for your job, then if there are meetings going on you better be there." He never ever held me back. I never had to go and ask permission if I could go to a meeting. I was extremely lucky in that regard.
espnW: Do you and your husband, Dan, have children?
PP: No. I have 300 baseball players [that are like my family]. Now, granted, I don't have 300 actual players but I have seven minor league teams so we have a total of eight teams and every one of those have a manager, a trainer, two coaches, extra personnel. You can't help but get to know people and get to know their families.
espnW: What do you do for fun or to relax and defray stress?
PP: I used to belly dance. I danced solo for years and we were in a troop. Some of my closest friends came from there. We were the award-winning belly dancing troop Saba Banat [Arabic for Seven Sisters]. It was fabulous. ... Now I have a group of girls and we get together and do card making and rubber stamping. I'm not a scrapbooker, but it's kind of similar. It's my adult playtime. It's my outlet, my creativity outlet, and I love it.
espnW: What advice do you have for women who want to work in baseball?
PP: Be willing to work your way up and learn as much as you can. For me it was paper pushing and I'm good at it. So do that job the best you can.