When setting up player interviews, there is a process that one goes through. It involves contacting the club and finding the right person to deal with. When this season began, there had been a change in the Storm front office. Gone was our previous contact Ryan Mersey and his replacement was a young man named Tyler Zickel. When we contacted Tyler, we found out right away he was a man with a plan. He asked us who we wanted to interview so he could plan with the player a time to sit down and talk with us before the games we attended. Tyler always made sure we were ok, that we were comfortable and on those hot days to make sure we had water. He was a blessing to work with in 2014.
With the 2015 season just getting underway, we decided it would be great for Padres fans to get to know Tyler and what he does and what his future plans are. We hope you’ll enjoy our interview with Tyler Zickel.
Padres360: Okay, and your name?
Tyler: My name is Tyler Zickel, also known as Zick.
Padres360: What is your position?
Tyler: I’m the Assistant Director of Media Relations for the Lake Elsinore Storm.
Padres360: What are some of your earliest memories of baseball?
Tyler: Earliest memories would be at The Q in San Diego going to Padres games with my family and most notably my dad. We had season tickets all the way up ‘til I left for college. So, sitting in loge on the third base side at the Qualcomm Stadium, formerly known as Jack Murphy as you guys know, until money started to talk. And that was pretty much my earliest memories. Being at one of the home games in the World Series in 1998, having a chance just to take it all in. There wasn’t much to really be excited about in terms of winning championships but, got to love those Padre guys on the team. And Tony Gwynn specifically. I was at his last game. So, those are the early memories.
Padres360: Did you play ball as a kid?
Tyler: Yes. So, I started playing baseball when I was four, doing Little League and all that stuff, and got a little serious about it as I got older. I started playing travel ball around 7th or 8th grade, played through high school, got a scholarship to play baseball in college at Whittier College, which is a small D3 in the LA area. And from there, I just played one season there, realized that baseball wasn’t going to be my career path, at least on the field, and so got into doing some other stuff and made my way back to baseball by doing broadcasting at Whittier after that.
Padres360: Well, who are some of your influences in the game as far as front office and as baseball players?
Tyler: I would say Tony Gwynn by far and away is my all-time favorite baseball player not just because of what he did on the field but because of what he did off the field. I had a chance to do some hitting clinics with him when I was in elementary school. Also did some Randy Jones hitting clinics that he made an appearance at and had a chance just to talk to him very briefly in that setting. It’s not one-on-one. But still, every time he made it seem as if you were the only person that he was there working with. So, Tony Gwynn for sure. Professionally, I would say with my aspirations of becoming a play-by-play broadcaster, Matt Vasgersian is probably my go-to when it comes to guy I’m influenced by. I love his passion, love his energy. He goes about each broadcast in a way that, it doesn’t come off as too pretentious, at least for me. And I love the “Santa Maria” call and all the Latin influence as well, which I thought was cool being from San Diego, or at least the team being in San Diego. And beyond that, obviously, you love guys like Jake Peavy who came up with the Padres. I was actually at his Big League debut against the Yankees in Qualcomm Stadium.
Padres360: Oh, yeah.
Tyler: Adrian Gonzalez. I respect him as a person and as a player. And then honestly, my baseball world was very limited to San Diego until I moved out up to LA and then started to get a more national sense of the game. But up until college, I was really just only Padres. So, it’s all San Diego-related.
Padres360: So, going back to college where there came a point when you realized, “Well, I’m not going to make it as a player.” And you decide, “Hmm, okay.” You want to go ahead and you want to still work in the game. What did you do and where did you go from that point that led you to here?
Tyler: So, in college at Whittier, I had actually stopped playing my first year and was doing other things. I joined a fraternity, was elected student body president, so doing some of those things that were non-sports related. But my senior year, I really started to get the inkling that, the inclination rather, that I wanted to get back into the game and figure out a way to do so. And it just so happened that our college had just started broadcasting our games live on the internet. And so, I had gotten wind of this through another television station I was working with on campus. They said, “Hey, they’re looking for play-by-play broadcasters.” I said, “Hey, that could be something really cool.” So, I went to our Sports Information Director, Lance Franey. I had a chance to say, “Hey, I want to do this.” He threw me on a broadcast and from there I was hooked. So, I had a chance to do games by senior year. And then after I graduated, actually right before that, the Athletic Director comes up to me after a game and he had mentioned to me a few times that I’d done a decent job and he was impressed with my work having not studied or done any other previous broadcasting and said, “We’re starting a broadcast network, a sports network, next year. We’d like you to come back and be the head of that, spearhead it with our Athletic Department.” So, I was the Associate Director of Broadcasting at Whittier for two years and developed the Whittier College Sports Network from nothing to what became a sports hub for all things athletic related. So, I was broadcasting lacrosse, soccer, basketball, baseball of course, softball, volleyball, water polo. My first lacrosse game I had ever watched in my life, I was on the call. So, it was an interesting experience learning the game in that manner. But just getting thrown to the fire and having a chance just to be behind the mic and developer my professional persona, if you will, was such a blessing. And just again, timing is everything. It was really luck that I ended up into that. And then our baseball coach actually got me tuned into the idea of going to work for a professional baseball team, because the dream job would be to be the next Matt Vasgersian, whether it’s with the Padres or with MLB Network or what have you. But I put out some applications, initially got denied from this job. I found out the girl who got this job originally had just disappeared after the first day. She just got cold feet and left. So, I know a buddy in the ticket office there, Colunga. I don’t know if you’ve met him. He’s our Director of Ticketing. And he put in a good word. I resent in all my stuff, and here I am. That’s the long answer.
Padres360: No, that’s great because so often when [playing with] the game, they want to be scouts or they want to work more front office. And this is not quite, it is front office but it’s way front office.
Padres360: So, it’s interesting you came this direction.
Tyler: Yeah, and…
Padres360: You got a lot of longevity into this though.
Tyler: Right. And for me I was, honestly I wouldn’t call it a regret, but the one thing I wish I had paid more attention to when I was a player was the mental aspect of the game. I played for fun. And for me, I didn’t take it seriously enough to get in the extra reps in the cage, stay late, take ground balls. For me, I just didn’t have that drive. And I wish I knew what I know now what it takes to be successful. And maybe once I had grown into this body a little bit more, I could have been successful in that manner. But with that said, I have a passion for baseball that can only be expressed in my opinion behind the play-by-play microphone. Obviously, there are other ways to do so. But I’ve got a burning desire to do that. And I feel like, to be completely honest with you, that was the opportunity for me to really take this game to the next level and get a chance to live it as close as you can get to being a player.
Padres360: So, are you going to relocate then and take the next spot?
Tyler: Yeah. I would go anywhere.
Tyler: That’s the thing. Being 23 years old, not married with no kids. Thank god, especially on the kids part. Being able to go anywhere was a vital requirement to make sure my life is able to be, just packed up and moved whenever. I’m from San Diego. So, right now as it turned out, I just got the Lake Elsinore Storm job.
Tyler: It couldn’t have gotten any better in the Padres Organization. But I’m ready to move to just about anywhere. Again, there are certain places where I could weigh my options between staying here and being kind of the number two if you will.
Tyler: Although there really is no number two to Sean McCall. He is the dean. He is The Man.
Tyler: But to be able to do Zick in the Sixth or have a chance to fill in when he’s gone, I got to weigh my options between whether I want to stay here and to continue that in that way or try and go chase that dream in that manner and be the head guy. And not a lesser organization, but maybe one that’s either less well-known in the baseball community or one that’s just…
Padres360: That you haven’t grown up with.
Tyler: Right. Out there in the middle of nowhere, if you will. So, there are pros and cons, yeah. So, there are pros and cons to both.
Padres360: Well, talk to us a little bit about the average day that you have. Say, well choose today.
Padres360: Okay, what is the day like for somebody in your job?
Tyler: So, I get here, check emails, wake up a little bit. I’m not really a morning person. So, from 9 to 10 normally it’s just the easy stuff, checking emails, responding to emails. So, whether it’s interview requests or anything that comes across my desk in that manner. Also, just checking my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, checking our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram since I run all of our social media.
Padres360: Oh, okay.
Tyler: It is a team effort, but I’m the point man for that. So, I’ll usually craft our morning A, which is a 10AM Facebook post every morning. So, in that first hour I’ll get our Facebook post ready, get that out. Then 10 o’clock hits and on a game day, I’m making stat packs for everybody. So, that’s three sets of stat packs for each team, stats here for any media that comes, stats for the broadcasters, stats for the scouts, and then any other stats that may need to be made for that day. And then from there, it’s a waiting game. I’ll get the lineup from Jamie Quirk, our skipper, when he gets here at about noon. Then I’ll wait for the opponent’s lineup, and then I’ll make the lineups and distribute all of that. But I think once the stats are done, it’s really just working on whatever needs to be done that day. It changes day to day, which I love, because if it was the same thing every day, it’d get boring. But I’m happy that I’m able to do something different every day that’s baseball-related. I would say out of everybody here besides Sean, I have the most baseball-related job. Everyone else is doing in-game entertainment, sales, sponsorships, anything but baseball, what makes the Storm the Storm. But for me, I get a chance to do the baseball stuff, which is important, really important actually.
Padres360: So, based on what you thought it would be and what it is, how close correlated to what it is?
Tyler: I would say that this job has exceeded my expectations, certainly. And there are certain things that I thought that I’d be doing that I’m not doing, but I’m happy about that. But most importantly, I’ve gotten to do things I never would have expected to do, specifically the broadcasting. That’s not in the job description. But Sean being the man that he is and the mentor that he is allowed me after the All-Star break to start doing Zick in the Sixth on the road. So, I think that’s been the biggest take away from this job.
Padres360: Talking about him being a mentor, is that something that is weighing on your mind with the idea of coming into next season where you might be inclined to maybe stay here to maybe apprentice under him a little bit more before maybe going out and weighing your options? I know Sean and we talked several times, but very nice. And this organization, we have had Coleman here and he was a classic. And we saw Enberg, we have several different guys in the organization who are really good broadcasters, whatever.
Padres360: So, do you think maybe you might apprentice a little longer or are you just…
Tyler: And that would actually be a big reason for me to stay, is just as conversations we had between Dave Oster our president, Sean, Raj our General Manager, and myself, just to see where I would fit in that role, because I wouldn’t be doing the Assistant Director of Media Relations job next year. That’s technically an internship. And while there are some shifting changes going on with the organization and with the state as to what interns can and can’t do…
Padres360: Oh yeah.
Tyler: That option is certainly on the table. And that would be, that’s my 50/50 choice right now, whether it’s stay on, apprentice with Sean, or try and go chase that elsewhere. And there are pros and cons to both. I would only be doing one to three innings a game, if every game, with Sean and the Storm. But with that said, there’s so much more to being a broadcaster in Minor League Baseball which you have to be until you can be ready to get to those 30 spots. I still have not made that decision yet. [Chuckles]
Padres360: Are you going to the winter meetings in San Diego?
Tyler: Yeah, 100%. And that’s where I’m going to go, [beating the stream] a little bit.
Padres360: Tons of interviews there, yeah.
Tyler: Right. And put myself out there, see what I’m offered and if I’m offered anything. You know, praying that something can come up.
Padres360: You got to see what’s out there, too.
Padres360: Would you look at independent ball even?
Tyler: I don’t think I would look at independent ball, ever. But that’s only with a…
Padres360: You’ve already been in affiliated ball.
Tyler: Well, that’s the thing. And also, I’m just a little ignorant to how that all goes down.
Tyler: I’m naïve to that. So, it had to be the right situation. But the beauty of being in affiliated ball as you know, you are an affiliate. So, you have connections with a Big League club who maybe could either pull you up or make you a recommendation to elsewhere. So, the network is bigger when you’re in affiliated ball.
Tyler: At least from my experience.
Tyler: Which is very limited.
Padres360: Well, I just want to go back to days as a fan in San Diego. What did you think about ?
Tyler: I liked The Chicken. To be honest with you, I didn’t have much of an experience, because that was a little bit before my time.
Padres360: Before your time?
Tyler: But the times that he did come out, I just remember being very excited to see something different. And obviously, you hear about The Chicken. I actually had my bar mitzvah at the Hall of Champions in Balboa Park. And they’ve got a nice, I think they’ve got either one of the old suits.
Padres360: They’ve got a full suit.
Tyler: And I just thought that was really awesome. So, I’ve read actually your stuff with it about The Chicken and I just, I wish…
Padres360: Crazy stuff, huh?
Tyler: Yeah, really crazy stuff. I wish I could have experienced that more. But it’s so nice to know that something legendary has come out of San Diego.
Padres360: We met him and spent hours with him interviewing him, I was just dumbfounded by the stuff he’s done. We were just amazed.
Tyler: Talk about creating a character.
Padres360: Oh my gosh. And he’d been doing it for 40 years.
Tyler: Cult phenomena, pop culture phenomena, if you will.
Padres360: So, if you weren’t working in baseball, what do you think you would be doing?
Tyler: [Sighs] I don’t even know if I’ve given that any thought, to be honest. That’s a great question. I think that I’d definitely be interested in doing something I guess business-related, whether it’s owned. And my dad owned his business for over 25 years in San Diego, but maybe doing teaching, maybe teaching as well. I have a degree in English and that would be something that could be of an appeal to me. But that being said, I was never that great of a student. So, who knows?
Padres360: Well, I will say this. I think that God has truly put you in the position you need to be.
Tyler: Thank you.
Padres360: Of the people we’ve met, you definitely, you do your job so well.
Tyler: Thank you very much.
Padres360: And the fact that you’re single, you don’t have kids, I told this to my best friend when we were younger, it’s like the world is your oyster. Do it now. Because you get married and settle down, it’s different. Make it now and do it and go with it as hard as you can.
Tyler: That’s great advice.
Padres360: And marry someone that loves baseball.
Tyler: That’s a good point.
Padres360: And no matter where you are, I hope you’ll keep in contact with us.
Tyler: Yeah, absolutely.
Padres360: And I’ll say from us at Padres 360, whatever, and from just as people, Wayne and Rebecca, thank you. And God bless, because you made this year absolutely fantastic.
Tyler: Thank you very much. I’m happy to hear that, because this being my first year in professional baseball and first real professional job, I’ve never had a 9 to 5 or anything like that before this. I was working for a college part time. Just flying by the seat of my pants sometimes, so I’m happy to hear that you guys were satisfied with the work I did this year.
Padres360: We really appreciated it.
Tyler: My pleasure.
Padres360: Thank you, Tyler. And God bless you, whatever you do now.
Tyler: Yeah. [I love] you both as well.
We hope Tyler will stay in the Padres organization as he is a Padres fan through and through. We know that wherever he goes, he will do well because not only does he work hard, but he cares about people. Will he eventually become 1 of the 30 in the MLB? Honestly, we think he will. Keep your eyes out for this young man in the future.