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Strategy

How Dan Reiter and the Springfield Cardinals Created an Emergency Plan

Dan Reiter with the Springfield Cardinals talks about how his large organization developed an emergency plan and relied on communication to wade through uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Jenna deJong

Jul 2020

Dan Reiter of the Springfield Cardinals
Photo by Brandon AlmsDan Reiter, Vice President and General Manager of the Springfield Cardinals Purchase Photo

Tip 1: Take a Moment to Breathe

Telecommuting and baseball don’t exactly go hand-in-hand. Though Dan Reiter, vice president and general manager of the Springfield Cardinals, could “see the writing on the wall,” the prospect of working from home was a whole other ballgame for the organization’s 22 full-time employees. “We have never had teleworking,” Reiter says. “We immediately had to figure out how to get our employees to work from home, which obviously presented a brand new set of challenges we hadn’t looked at before.”

Tip 2: Predict the Impact, Not the Future 

Luckily, the leadership with the Springfield Cardinals had already registered the impact COVID-19 could have on the region. “[We] said, ‘Hey, this looks like it’s coming. Let’s prepare and worst-case scenario is we don’t have to do it,’” Reiter says. “We didn’t wait for anything to be forced. We were thinking of [a plan] before we had to, which I think helped make it feel a little less stressful.”

When COVID-19 caused MLB to cancel its season, Reiter went back to the basics: “The minor leagues exist to help out the major leagues. So the next step is to make sure the major leagues have their plans in place, and then we’ll be here to try to help and assist.”

Tip 3: Share News, Even if it’s Bleak 

Though the Springfield Cardinals only has 22 full-time employees, its staff number shoots to 350 when considering part-time and game day staff. Reiter says the organization communicates with its staff through regular emails, even if those messages don’t have new information. “No one wants to see an email that there’s nothing new to report, but sometimes you have to do that to let people know that you’re thinking about them.” Luckily for seasonal and game day employees, the $1 million Cardinals Care and Relief Fund is now available to provide relief to those impacted by postponed games. As for the players, Reiter says they’re all waiting out the crisis at their homes.

For now, Reiter says the Springfield Cardinals will “hurry up and wait.” Once an announcement is made from the major leagues, Reiter said he predicts games could start one month later, but without that signal most of his staff will continue to work from home.

Editor's Note: Since the initial publication of this article, Major League Baseball has announced that there will be no Minor League Baseball season in 2020. However, Hammons Field and the Springfield Cardinals will play host to a "taxi squad" of non active St. Louis Cardinals players so that they may be ready if they're called up to the active roster. It is unlikely that spectators will be allowed to watch.