A Cup of Coffee

If you follow baseball,–or have you’ve seen enough baseball movies–you might be familiar with the term “a cup of coffee.”

In baseball parlance, a cup of coffee refers to situations where a player has an especially short stint with a Major League Baseball team.

An example might be that a team calls a player up from its minor league farm system, and adds the player to its roster; however the player might only appear in only a few games, or no games at all.

In many cases they might never return to Major League Baseball again.

On baseball’s Opening Day a few weeks ago, I had a fond recollection (a “misty, water-colored memory”  Barbara Streisand might say) of my own cup of coffee in the big leagues, with the team in my adopted hometown.

The Call

I will never, ever, forget the thrill of checking my voicemail to hear a message from the Chicago Cubs. My first reflex was to call back immediately. Though I paused a few minutes to allow my quickened pulse and respiration rates to calm down.

When I returned the call, I was asked if I could report to Wrigley Field the following day! I was given instructions on which door to enter and how to get their personnel offices.

Their personnel offices! My only experience on the inside of Wrigley was for fan seating, concession stands, and bathrooms. Now, I was being invited into their offices, though what sounded like a secret entrance.

Photograph of scoreboard at Wrigley Field. In descending order:Three flagpoles showing various national league teams. The analogue clock, main board showing scores of other games, top of centerfield bleachers.

The Friendly Confines


This might be an appropriate time to clarify that “the call” from the Cubs was to schedule an interview for a graphic designer position where I would be working on their print publication (or “magazine” as the kids used to say), which I believe was called “Vineland.”

The interview was early on a chill morning, thus when offered a beverage, I chose the hot and caffeinated option. Regardless of the outcome of the meeting I knew I could truthfully say that I was called up by the Cubs for a cup of coffee.


The conversations that I had with HR, and one of the designers, went really well. At that point in my life, I had already logged many thousands of hours on Macintosh computers; and Quark XPress, then the industry’s dominant computer, and design software, respectively. I also offered experience in management, and had done a bit of copywriting.

Though, most of my work been had with a real estate publisher, followed by some freelance jobs making truck parts mailings. My portfolio was a bit of a yawner. I did not expect to get a job offer.

Still, I left the interview feeling great. When I got home, I wrote up notes of thanks to the people who interviewed me. Then I worked on some other opportunities I was pursuing.

Early the next day, I picked up some stamps and mailed the letters. I literally got my rejection in the mail moments later. It was as if the Cubs had thrown me a high, inside, fastball (“chin music” is the appropriate baseball term in this case).

I was mildly impressed by the speed of the rejection. I realized later, that they had some candidates in mind when I interviewed.

I hope they had at least waited until I was out of the building before generating their form-rejection letter.

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