Brian Britten, a 1995 Perrysburg High School graduate, told an adviser at Bowling Green State University he wanted a job in baseball during his freshman orientation.
Today, Britten will spend his 13th year in a row helping the Detroit Tigers put on opening day. In 2000 he began working for the Tigers media relations; now, he is the director.
“I started on a ride when I was an 18-year-old kid not knowing what kind of job I wanted, just knowing I wanted to work with a baseball team,” Britten said. “But I had great mentors and a lot of great people helping me.”
His love for baseball started with his father at a young age. Britten said he started to love baseball and the Tigers because of his father.
After his freshman orientation Britten was put in touch with a BGSU graduate working with the Toledo Mud Hens.
For the next three years, he worked volunteer internships before being hired by them before graduating BGSU in 1999. Britten worked a year in Toledo before going to Detroit.
As a youngster, his dad played catch with him, coached some of his little league teams, took him to baseball card shows, and taught him how to score a game. Now his father, Gary Britten, a Perrysburg Township trustee, asks his son about the Tigers.
“I’m in the fortunate position of working with the team we’ve loved forever,” Britten said. “He comes to spring training some years, is close enough to come to games; it is truly an awesome thing. It brings me happiness to share some of these things with him.”
When Britten was a little boy, his father was able to get him a baseball bat for Christmas used by his favorite player, Lance Parrish. This Christmas it was Britten unwrapping a Tigers gift of his favorite player.
His father loved watching right fielder Al Kaline, and Brian was able to get him a signed Kaline baseball.
Working with Britten in the Tigers organization is manager Jim Leyland, also from Perrysburg. Brian said he has known Leyland a long time, from him picking up turkeys at his family farm for Thanksgivings.
Britten and his father have several other ties, such as going to church at St. Rose Catholic Church where Thomas Leyland, Jim’s brother, was a priest. And Britten grew up with some of Jim Leyland’s brothers playing and even coached in kid baseball baseball by the Leylands.
“I spend a lot of time with him [Jim Leyland] every day; he is a fun guy to be around each day,” Britten said. “It is awesome. As a little kid when he became the [Pittsburgh] Pirates manager I became a big Pirates fan.”
Brian isn’t the only Britten offspring to take up the sport with the elder Britten. Amy Eynon, a daughter who is a high school consumer education teacher at North Baltimore, played softball for her dad at a young age and in high school. The father-daughter combination were able to play coed ball after school and Britten said “they had a good team that won some titles.”
Opinionated father-son discussions on their favorite team are a bit different for Britten and his father now.
“I try to tell him who the closer should be,” Britten’s father said. “In my opinion it should be Al Alburquerque. I’m not a big one for closer by committee. But that is what is fun about baseball; everyone has an opinion. Because [Brian] doesn’t always have the same opinion.”
Britten went to dinner with pitcher Justin Verlander in New York City as he accepted the American League MVP and AL Cy Young award. He patched Miguel Cabrera on the phone with MLB commissioner Bud Selig, who wanted to congratulate the third baseman on winning the Triple Crown.
“I remember when Magglio [Ordonez] hit the home run to put us in the World Series. I didn’t see it,” Britten said. “I was in the video room in the clubhouse because I would have to come out and direct interviews if we won right after the game. The monitor I was watching was on had a delay, and I heard the roar of the crowd and said, ‘I don’t know what happened but we just won.’
“That still gives me chills just talking about it.”
Contact Matt Thompson at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-356-8786 or on Twitter at @mthompson25.