- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The need for change can strike anyone anywhere at any time. Mark Viniard suddenly realized he needed to be more of a family man and less of a baseball stadium fixture.
Viniard was the first general manager of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs for their inaugural 2008 season, a position he received in 2007 after a lifetime working in sports. These days, Viniard does not spend his time at the diamond but rather at the desk as the public affairs specialist for Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Division.
Viniard, a native of Illinois, moved with his wife, Rocell, and his oldest son from Des Moines, Iowa, in 2007 as a requirement for her job at National Harbor in Prince George’s County.
“I was just going to be a stay-at-home dad originally, but then this opportunity to work with the Crabs came up,” Viniard said. “I knew the ownership, and that they’d been looking for someone. I knew them from my previous minor league baseball team … and it kind of worked out that this opportunity was going to be a good one for me based on my background.”
Before meeting his wife, Viniard had moved all over the country as a part of a hectic job in minor league baseball that prevented him from establishing a fixed address for any long period of time. He worked in a variety of positions, starting with an internship with the Clinton Giants in Clinton, Iowa, in 1991 and ending as the assistant general manager of the Charlotte, N.C., Knights in 2003.
Viniard also worked as the marketing manager for Florida Citrus Sports from 2003 to 2004 and the director of marketing for the Iowa Stars, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Dallas Stars, from 2006 to 2007.
After meeting and marrying his wife, Viniard said the pair continued to move from place to place. He had been out of baseball for a time when he began working for the Blue Crabs.
“When I heard of the opportunity for the job on base, I was still at the time working for the Blue Crabs,” Viniard said. “Minor league baseball people put in a ton of hours. We had one son at the time, and we knew we wanted a bigger family. Between my crazy hours and my wife’s crazy hours, the opportunity to have a normal working environment was appealing to me. It’s been a great move.”
Viniard is not currently employed on base directly by the government but rather by Fairfax, Va.-based contractor Future Technologies Inc. The job represents for Viniard what he describes as the first nonbaseball job that he has held “for any length of time.”
“I found the transition very easy this time around,” Viniard said when comparing this career shift to previous attempts. “Before, I don’t think I was quite ready to give up baseball. I was either single and without kids, or married and without kids, and it just wasn’t something that I was in the right place for yet. This time, though, I knew I was ready to make the move.”
With the current arrangement, Viniard said his wife was able to keep her same working hours, and with his newfound stable schedule he was able to be around more for his children and to help in the home.
Despite the ease with which he transitioned to this new field, Viniard retains fond memories of his time in baseball.
“There will always be certain parts of baseball that I will miss,” Viniard said. “In minor league baseball, it’s the traditional office duties … combined with the upkeep of the grounds. It’s a lot of change, and a lot of an adrenaline rush, and as you get older that’s just not as important. My son used to have to come see me at work, but now I can take him to the stadium and can be there to enjoy what’s going on, rather than working to coordinate it all.”
Viniard also still feels ties to the legacy of baseball he helped to establish in Southern Maryland.
“I’m very proud of the stadium,” Viniard said. “It’s good knowing that there’s a world-class facility in Charles County, and I was a part of it and helped it get off the ground.”
Despite not completing his college degree, Viniard said he worked continuously in baseball from 1991 to 2003, when he and his wife moved to Orlando.
Viniard credits the work ethic that he applies daily on base to his time spent in the sports industry and the amount of work that jobs of that nature require.
“The public affairs office at Indian Head receives a lot of business every day,” Viniard said.
“In sports, you know, if you see that something needs to get done, you just do it. You don’t ask questions, and I still apply that every day at my job here, and I think people recognize that about me.”
Viniard, who regularly coordinates a variety of events that occur on base, finds the most challenging aspect of his job to be the sheer amount of work he has every day. However, he is quick to recognize that he does not work alone.
“We do a lot, and it’s not just me,” Viniard said. “On a daily basis, there’s a lot of men and women who see to it that everything we run goes smoothly. We have a whole checklist of things that ensure everything that needs to get done gets done.”
Outside of his responsibilities at work, Viniard sits on the board of the Civista Foundation, which he has done since his time with the Blue Crabs, as the two work closely together. Through his work with the board, he has gotten to know Susan Vogel, the foundation’s executive director.
“Mark did an impressive job managing the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs organization during its inaugural season,” Vogel said. “In his role as the team’s general manager, he evoked passion and enthusiasm in his work and got our community excited about minor league baseball. It was those same traits that motivated the Civista Health Foundation to invite him to join the board of directors. He is a proud supporter and strong advocate for our hospital, and we are fortunate to have his leadership at work for us.”
Outside of his work, Viniard said a typical day for him consists of driving his two sons around from practice to practice and spending time with his family, which he considers to be the most rewarding.
“My days are always busy, but quite honestly, that’s the way I like it,” Viniard said. “I get to work, I get to spend time with my family and be a father to my sons … it’s excellent.”