From Gilroy to grandstands

For Bobby and Tucker Baksa a normal day at the office would be the field of dreams for millions of average Joe and Jane sports fans. For the Baksa boys, the path to their field of dreams was forged on the sand lots of Gilroy rec league sports. Bobby and Tucker, sons of longtime Gilroy City Administrator Jay Baksa, work for the San Francisco Giants and San Francisco 49ers, respectively. From rec league to big league, sports was always a constant fixture in the Baksa home.

“If there wasn’t a ball flying around, someone was sick,” their dad, Jay Baska, says. For 25 years, Jay was where the buck stopped in Gilroy, as he managed the entire city staff.

His son, Bobby Baksa, 34, is the Community and Players Relations Manager for the Giants and has access to players that a lot fans would kill for. He’s worked with Buster Posey, Sergio Romo, and occasionally rubs shoulders with Will Clark, a favorite player from Bobby’s childhood and now an assistant in player development.

The Giants Executive Offices on the third floor at AT&T Park are handsomely decorated, and the walls, carpet, furniture and lighting affect a Giants-inspired orange glow. A short walk through the concourse area and into the upper-deck cafe area, windows overlook the panorama of the empty ballpark. Custodians work, washing and scrubbing the park, getting it ready for the last game of their opening homestand against the Arizona Diamondbacks. If baseball was a religion, Bobby works at one of its most precious temples.

“I manage the non-media player appearances. We fulfill hundreds of requests a year, like taking players to hospitals or schools or a simple meet-and-greet on the field,” Bobby says. “Most of the time I’m with the players while they’re there, so I get to see another side to the players. It’s all business, but you do get to know some better than others.”

His brother, Tucker, 32, is the Youth Programs Coordinator with the 49ers and manages popular activities like the NFL’s Play 60 program—designed to get school kids active for at least 60 minutes a day. Tucker works in the recreation and physical education part of the organization, helping to connect players with area kids, encouraging them to stay fit.

“It’s cool to wear the brand and represent the organization. But, what I go back to is making an impact on the community. In this job, you’re doing all those things but all around the Bay Area,” Tucker says. “The impact that you can have on the community is what I love about this job.”

A career in professional sports was not at the forefront of Bobby or Tucker’s minds, as both embarked on a career in what they loved best. The brothers spent countless hours playing sports put on by the Department of Parks and Recreation. Bobby and Tucker appeared set to follow in the footsteps of Jay, and Jay, II, who works in city government in Dublin, California.

Jay, a pragmatist who steered Gilroy through tough and good times, looks to the future.

“In many ways, it’s a job that’s ideal, but they’re going to be in the workforce for another 30 years. So whether they stay with this, or move to other clubs, or move back into the public sector, time and circumstances make those kinds of decisions for you,” he says.

“But out of college, enjoying the travel, the network, and the experiences they’re getting with the 49ers and Giants is great. You couldn’t ask for anything more.”

On the field, careers are most often short and the competition to hold onto one of the precious roster spots available is constant. It’s the same off the field—a race for college students and interns to get full-time jobs in the industry, and the competition is getting faster every day.

“The resumes we get for internships are amazing,” says Bobby. “These students are overqualified for an internship, they’ve already done so much. I feel—when I started—the industry wasn’t at this scale.”

The hours are long for both Tucker and Bobby. When Tucker started working for Stanford University, he would often go to work at five in the morning and not get back until nine at night. In an industry known for hyper-competitiveness on the field, patience is key to work in the front offices.

“I tell a lot of the students you have to work hard and it’s about timing too,” he says. “They need to make a difference when they’re here. People know who the good interns and part-time employees are and they want to keep them. You just need to be patient in this industry.”

Bobby and Tucker got their professional start early in life. In high school, Bobby and some friends were hired to lead basketball, youth camp and afterschool programs. Bob Connelly, who worked for the City of Gilroy for 29 years and retired in 2004 as Director of Community Services, persuaded him to pursue a career in parks and recreation.

“I loved what I did, I had fun, and he said ‘why not make a career out of it?’” Bobby says. “I wanted to be the next Bob Connelly.”

Jay, II, 37, dominated the games early. The consensus between Jay, Bobby and Tucker is that Jay, Jr. was the best basketball player. Major League catcher Chris Gimenez, who now plays for the Minnesota Twins, was a family friend and a regular guest at the house. Being closer in age, the games between Tucker and Bobby were more intense.

“It was always a friendly rivalry for the most part. But being younger, I wanted to one-up my older brother in whatever we played. We didn’t like to lose so when one of us did, we threw a little fit and then we’d be back at it. The love of sports was fostered in those intense battles, Tucker says.

Their mother, Vicki Baksa, remembers things differently.

“They were competitive over everything. Who was the fastest? Who could eat the most? Who could finish the puzzle before anyone? Even now, ‘Who’s the best cook?’” Vicki says. “They make a contest out of everything, but they’re very close.”

Outside of the offices of city government, Jay was “Coach Baksa”. He coached basketball, baseball, volleyball, soccer, or whatever else he was asked. He also served as the junior varsity boys basketball coach at Gilroy High School for 12 years.

“I coached a lot with my sons, but they went beyond me. They got too good for me to coach them,” Jay says.

Vicki was Tucker’s first coach in youth league basketball. For two years Vicki led her third- and fourth-grade teams to a perfect record. It’s still a record of which she’s proud.

“They kind of laughed at us being the only team coached by women. I guess we got the last laugh,” Vicki says.

A love for sports spanned the generations in the Baksa house and goes far back in Elyria, Ohio.

During his childhood, Jay sat with his grandfather Harry Mason Sr., listening to Cleveland Indians baseball. He remembers listening to the games on warm summer nights, as they sat on a covered back porch, protected from the mosquitos.

“My grandfather remembered when they won the World Series in 1920. He gave me quite a history of Cleveland sports,” Jay says. “When you’re from Northeast Ohio, sports is just part of your life.”

All three of the Baksa boys got their undergraduate degrees from San Diego State. During their time there, they lived together. The additional time together helped to strengthen their bonds.

Jay, Jr. received his master’s degree from San Diego State, but Bobby and Tucker went to graduate school at the University of San Francisco, where they studied Sports Management.

After college Bobby got an internship with the Giants in 2006 and Tucker interned with the 49ers in 2012.

The theme of sports and family followed Bobby to the Giants when he met his wife, Casey, who also works for the team as the customer service manager.

“She grew up a Giants fan as well. We see each other, but we work in different departments,” Bobby says.

Bobby went from being an intern to part time, before landing a full-time job. Currently, Bobby works with Larkin Street Youth Services, AIMS (Athletes In Math Succeed), the Heading Home Campaign, and the Junior Giants which has over 25,000 participants.

After graduating from USF, Tucker worked for the Gilroy Department of Parks and Recreation and at Stanford over weekends. In the Super Bowl year of 2012, he started as an intern and worked two years before gaining a full-time job with the team. He worked a multitude of jobs before finding a home in the community relations department.

There are some perks to having sons who work in professional sports. During Bobby’s time with the Giants, Jay and Vicki have had the opportunity to attend World Series games. In 2010, when the Giants beat the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Championship Series, Jay was able to cross something off his bucket list.

“Bobby was with us at the time. He was jumping up and down and he was excited, but I was saying ‘I get to go to a World Series game, I get to go to a World Series game!’ I always wanted that,” Jay says.

What Jay hasn’t got from Bobby is any salacious rumors from the inside of the team.

“What he tells me once in awhile is ‘what a nice person that guy was,’ or something of that nature. He doesn’t talk about the players at all. That’s confidential. That’s his job,” Jay, says.

By Bryce Stoepfel