By: Director of Athletic Communications & Public Relations Kevin Ruple
BEREA, Ohio -- De'ja vu. Or as Yogi Berra, the late and legendary New York Yankees player/ coach and Hall of Famer, once said, "It's de'ja vu all over again!"
From Miles to Bowen, the Similarities are Striking
In the late 1990s, Brent Miles '97 had just graduated as an outstanding student and basketball player at Baldwin Wallace University and found a career in minor league baseball. He has since gone on to be a successful baseball executive and President of three minor league teams on the west coast.
Fast forward 22 years later to Nate Bowen '09, who was a former Yellow Jacket cross country and track and field standout student who also found a career in the minors. He is quickly becoming the next BW grad to advance as a baseball executive and currently serves as the Assistant General Manager of the Altoona Curve, a AA team in the Eastern League, in Altoona, Pennsylvania.
Bowen Loved the Minors From Day One
Bowen began his professional life as a writer and broadcaster, but once he got his first taste of minor league baseball with the short-season Princeton (W.Va.) Rays in 2010, he was hooked.
"I love the atmosphere of minor league baseball," said Bowen, who said he began accepting leadership positions at BW when he was the sports director and then general manager at campus radio station WBWC.
"At BW, we built a great sports department and then station management team that lasted for four years and after we graduated," said Bowen. "Here in Altoona, and at my other stops in the minors, we have developed that same style.
"You are around the same people all the time, because we all have to multi-task," continued Bowen, who has done ticket and merchandise sales, advertising and sponsorships, community relations, web site management and social media and broadcasting. "We are like a family. We work seven days-a-week during the pre-season and while in-season. The key is being able to get along with a group of diverse people all moving 100 miles-an-hour and in a hundred different directions all at the same time!"
You Better be Ready to Move in the Minors Until You Find a Home
Prior to landing in Altoona in 2013, Bowen went from working for Princeton in West Virginia (2010-11) to the Durham, North Carolina Bulls (2011) to Northwest Arkansas (2012). In Altoona, Bowen has risen quickly in the organization to his present position of Assistant GM.
"I love working for the Curve," said Bowen, who grew up in Fremont, Ohio. "I get to work with a lot of great people who love what they do everyday. We have a great ballpark with three seating levels and it seats up to 7,200, but we had as many as 10,000 fans here when we hosted the Pirates (Major League Baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates).
"We get the opportunity every day to reinvent or create the atmosphere for the fans with the idea of making every game a fun event to attend," said Bowen. "We are the smallest AA market in the minors, so we have to draw from a large area which includes the entire central areas of Pennsylvania, and we have to come up with some unique events to draw interest other than the baseball game.
"We planned a Vietnam Veterans Day and hoped to get as many as 200 at our game," said Bowen. "We were overwhelmed with the response and had nearly 2,600 vets respond and attend the game. We had fans who attended form a tunnel for the vets to walk through. They held signs saying, 'Welcome Home' and we had a 'Hero of the Game' award. It was a great success."
Bowen Still Loves to Broadcast
In addition to working with the Curve, Bowen, who did BW football and basketball games on the radio and web site, continues to be involved broadcasting. The past three offseasons, he has served as the play-by-play man at Carnegie Mellon University in PIttsburgh doing football and men's and women;'s basketball games.
"I still love to broadcast the games," said Bowen, "but due to my current position and job responsibilities on game day, I do more managing now than broadcasting."
Coming Full Circle With Miles as a Bowen Advocate
Miles, who works Brett Sports & Entertainment, a group headed by former major leaguer and hall-of-famer George Brett and his brother Ken, who also played in the big leagues, is well-aware of Bowen. Bowen also is aware of Miles.
"Nate has done a great job of getting to know all of the nuances of minor league baseball, and he has advanced up the ladder at each level," said Miles, who feels Bowen has the best of part of his career still ahead of him. "I plan to speak with Nate in the very near future about his plans for the future. He has excellent management potential."
Bowen's Plan for the Future
"Right now, I am very happy being in Altoona and working with the Curve and enjoy the people who I work with and the team," said Bowen. "My future plan is to be a minor league GM (General Manager) or the President of a club(s), just like Brent, but I know that will take time. The really great part is that I have a friend and advocate in Brent to speak on my behalf when that time and opportunity comes my way. I am also not discounting the possibility of getting back into broadcasting and maybe doing play-by-play for a major college or university."