Director calls Best Buy a "godsend" to the Junior League World Series

If you attended any games of the 30th annual Junior League World Series at Heritage Park in Taylor, chances are you saw employees of Best Buy.

Volunteers sold programs in the bleachers and souvenirs at the souvenir stand. They unloaded Pepsi products from trucks and delivered them to points of sale. They helped the grounds crew. They assisted with parking.

The Best Buy workers used a giant sling shot to fire about 300 T-shirts into the excited crowd. They worked the Best Buy Home Run Derby and provided prizes to the winners.

They set up computers on site for visiting fans to use throughout the week. The “Geek Squad” van was at World Series Field with video games to entertain spectators.

“We utilize Best Buy volunteers in just about every category you can thing of, except maybe coaching a team,” said Greg Bzura, founder and director of the World Series since its inception in 1981. “They’re amazing. They do it on their own time – they’re not on overtime.”

In all, there were 80 volunteers from the Best Buy store at Southland in Taylor – and five other locations, said Beth Daniels, operations supervisor at the Taylor store. They donated a total of 413 hours of time.

And when the week-long international tournament for the best teams of 13- and 14-year-old players was almost over, they donated $10,000 to the World Series, which counts on fund-raising, sponsors and hundreds of volunteers to operate every year.

Bzura called Best Buy and its volunteers a “godsend.”

“That’s the best way to put it,” he said. “And I think they’re having fun doing it. It’s win-win.”

Daniels said that when the sign-up sheet for the World Series is posted at Best Buy stores, employees put their names on the list quickly. They even worked the annual Andy Gerick Memorial Golf Outing that raises money for the series.

“We have a big culture of volunteering and giving back at our stores,” Daniels said.

Employees also participate annually in the Taylor Relay for Life, the signature fund-raiser of the American Cancer Society, and the Ride for a Reason, a fund-raiser for the Penrickton Center for Blind Children based at Biker Bob’s Motown Harley-Davidson in Taylor. They take part in Habitat for Humanity projects, too.

The World Series is close to Daniels’ heart. As a youngster in the mid-1980s, she played softball in the Taylor South Little League, which hosts the World Series.

“It’s the only Junior League World Series in the whole world,” she said. “Only four cities in the whole country get to host a (Little League-sanctioned baseball) World Series like this. How lucky are we to have it in our backyard, right?”

The uniqueness of the event extends to the visitors to Taylor, Daniels said.

“I think it’s really an opportunity to see kids from different cultures,” she said. “How often are you going to get to interact with kids from the Ukraine? I think it’s cool that we get to host kids from five countries you may never get a chance to visit as well as five states.”

During opening ceremonies, Daniels helped welcome the crowd to Taylor. During closing ceremonies, she presented the plaque to the manager of Chinese Taipei, which won the world championship.

Daniels said she has fun, too, calling the World Series “a reunion” of sorts.

“Every time I turn around, I see people I know,” she said.

Best Buy benefits as well. The company is the main sponsor of the World Series, so public address announcers remind visitors throughout the series of the volunteers’ contributions. The United States title game on Friday is named the Best Buy U.S. championship.

The company logo appears on the T-shirts worn by the volunteers, on the schedules posted throughout the community – even on the scoreboard at World Series Field.

World Series Director Bzura is one of Best Buy’s biggest fans.

“I don’t shop anywhere else, personally,” he said. “We try to encourage that in our family. They’ve got a lot of great products: computer games, office equipment and so much more. It’s like if you work at Ford, you drive a Ford – that kind of thing.

“They mean that much to us.”

Best Buy volunteers present a check for $10,000 to Junior League World Series Director Greg Bzura (third from left).

Best Buy employees sold World Series programs and other souvenirs.

Best Buy employees "shoot the shirts" into the crowd.

Best Buy employees congratulate the winners of the Best Buy Home Run Derby.