​​​The California State University prepares more job-ready graduates than any other public or private university in the state with more than 120,000 people earning a high-quality degree from a CSU campus every year. Fifty percent or more of the state's graduates in industries such as engineering, business, agriculture, public administration and criminal justice are CSU alumni. In fact, one in 10 employees in California is "made in the CSU". Find out how CSU grads in other fields are impacting California every day and how their CSU education provided them with the opportunity to do so.

Fans of Major League Baseball (MLB) know that California State University campuses have a long and rich tradition as producers of on-field talent. Through 2018, more than 50 players who played at a CSU campus have been drafted in the first round of the MLB draft including number one overall picks in 2009 (Stephen Strasburg, SDSU) and 1992 (Phil Nevin, Cal State Fullerton). Two players who played at a CSU were selected to the 2018 MLB All-Star game – Fresno State's Aaron Judge and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo's Mitch Haniger, while five were selected the previous year.

Ardent followers and maybe even some casual fans might know if their favorite player went to a CSU, but those same universities are also producing the talented folks who work behind the scenes to bring the game to fans.

Broadcasting the Padres

IMG_0797.jpeg

L-R: Dave Marcus with Padres broadcasters Ted Leitner and Jesse Agler

Dave Marcus (SDSU, 1991, Journalism) is in his 25th season serving as the producer/engineer for San Diego Padres' radio broadcasts. He's been employed by the station that broadcasts the games since 1994, so if you've listened to the team over the air in that time, you can thank Marcus as he's responsible for getting the Padres on the air whether they're at home, on the road facing one of the other 29 teams or even in Canada or Mexico.

From March through October, Marcus arrives at the ballpark about three hours before the game and hustles to set up broadcast equipment ensuring the broadcast booth is connected to the radio station, coordinates the pre-game show and tapes interviews with players or managers. And that's all before the first pitch. During the game, he's producing the broadcast: managing sponsor drop-ins, ensuring the broadcasters are ready when they come out of a break in the action and mixing the sound levels based on the ambient noise of the crowd. He also serves as a third pair of eyes in the booth, helping the broadcast team identify pitching changes, pinch hitters and anything else worth conveying to the fans tuning in.

It's a pretty compelling job for a die-hard sports fan, and Marcus credits SDSU for helping prepare him as well as provide him with the opportunity to make a career out of watching baseball games.

"SDSU helped expose me to many of the jobs available behind the scenes in radio and television. People typically want to be on the air as a broadcaster, but there are so many more opportunities that are out there, and whether it was working at the campus radio station or landing an internship through the journalism department, I gained an awareness of those other avenues," said Marcus.

"I was in front of the microphone at KCR (SDSU's student-run radio station), but I also got the chance to be a DJ and the sports director. We covered all of the Aztecs' sporting events - football, baseball and volleyball - and I gained invaluable experience there."

Taking advantage of those opportunities helped prepare him to get a job where he gets paid to watch baseball.

In fact, Marcus has the unique distinction of attending every Padres game since August 2005 – roughly 2,000 straight games and counting. Counting new parks and shuttered facilities, he's been to nearly 50 MLB ballparks, always ensuring that fans can tune in to keep up with the action on the field wherever the team travels. Along the way, Marcus has also had the opportunity to work with other Aztecs including "Mr. Padre" Tony Gwynn an MLB first-ballot Hall of Famer who filled in on Padres broadcasts, and Gwynn's son, Tony Gwynn, Jr., who is now a member of the radio team.

Drawing Giant Crowds

A number of CSU alums are front office staffers for the various teams in California.

StanleyR-053118-SM006 (1) (002).jpgRuss Stanley with one of three World Series rings he's received as a San Francisco Giants' team executive.

Russ Stanley (SFSU, 1988, Business Administration) currently serves as senior vice president of ticket sales and services for the San Francisco Giants, who have drawn over three million fans to AT&T Park for eight consecutive seasons.

"The fundamentals of what I use every day go back to my time at San Francisco State, especially when we were working on dynamic pricing," said Stanley.

Under the dynamic pricing platform, ticket pricing is fluid and the team uses data analytics to determine the price of tickets on a given day. It was under Stanley's leadership that the Giants became the first professional sports team to integrate this strategy, which is now commonplace in professional sports.

"Between when the schedule is released and the game is played, the supply changes and the demand changes. I kept thinking back to that supply and demand curve that we had to draw thousands of times."

In addition to planting the seeds for an economic strategy that would be adopted by every MLB club and the other franchises in the big four North American sports (NFL, NBA and NHL), Stanley also credits the flexibility of SFSU's business program which allowed him to work a full-time job at Marine World (a local theme park now known as Six Flags Discovery Kingdom) while pursuing his degree.

"When I was in high school, I knew that I could go to San Francisco State, but also keep working. I was taking classes at night and on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That flexibility allowed me to grow my knowledge both on and off campus."

While there are many perks that come with employment in the front office of a Major League Baseball team (think: office at a waterfront ballpark), working for the Giants has paid off in other ways – the team has won the World Series three times during Stanley's time with the club and he proudly wears his 2014 World Series ring daily.

"It's pretty incredible that we were able to win three times in five years. I feel like we're in the midst of the golden age of Giants baseball."

Twenty-nine seasons into his tenure with the Giants, Stanley still appreciates the opportunity to work with his dedicated staff and interact with the fans he encounters as he makes the rounds through the ballpark.

"It happens less and less, but I love to walk through the park and talk with the ushers and the season ticket holders that are here. There are still people I sold season tickets to in 1989 after the World Series (the Giants played the Oakland A's that year) and they're still here."

The Giants are one of five MLB teams in California, and other CSU alumni are helping bring the game to fans across the state.

Halo Branding Effect

Vanessa Vega (Cal State Fullerton, 2012, Communications) is the marketing manager for the Los Angeles Angels. In her role, she has a myriad of responsibilities including oversight of the team's platforms such as its website and social media presence, managing broadcast and trade partnerships and even community outreach.  

Vega credits a capstone course and her professors at CSUF for providing a unique hands-on opportunity to work with global brand, Nissan, on a marketing campaign, leading her down the path to a career in marketing.

"I credit my overall success my final year to that class," recalled Vega of her senior year at CSUF. "My professors were definitely instrumental to our success because they were very upfront and let us know that this campaign is here to prepare you for the real world."

And prepare her it did, as her participation in the coursework led directly to a number of job interviews, and she was able to land a position at an advertising agency in the weeks leading up to commencement.

"I want to say that 80 percent of the students that were in that class with me had jobs a week before we walked," said Vega.

The hands-on experiences gained from the communications program led to her position at the advertising agency and coupled with hard work has in turn led to her current role with the Angels.

While every day in Major League Baseball is different, Vega's overarching goal is to ensure that fans, whether long-time or casual - or even people who have not considered going to a game - know about all of the things taking place in the family-friendly environment at Angel Stadium.

"We really do have something for everyone," said Vega.

So if you're catching a game at the ballpark of one of MLB's five California teams, or just tuning in on the radio, it's quite possible that someone "made in the CSU" delivers a key hit, or strikes out a few of the opposing batters. With 120,000 people earning a high-quality every year under the university's Graduation Initiative 2025, it's also likely that a CSU alumnus like Marcus, Stanley or Vega had a hand in bringing you to the game or bringing the game to you.