On The Clock
Patty Paytas became one of the few female vice presidents in major league baseball January 9, 2002 when she was named Vice President – Communications for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Paytas, a graduate of Butler Area High School in 1977 and Butler County Community College and Slippery Rock State College in 1982, is in her second tour of duty with the ball club.
She joined the Pirates' public relations department in 1981 as an intern and became a full-time staff member in 1982, remaining with the club through the 1994 season. During that time she worked in the public relations and promotions department, and was named the club's first Community Relations Director in 1986.
From 1994 to 2002, she worked for Burson Marsteller and was a member of the Public Affairs Practice. She worked for Burson as a consultant to the Pirates associated with the building of PNC Park. She has served as the team's assistant Vice President of Ballpark Development and Communications since October 2000.
PSR's John Sacco recently put Pirates' VP Patty Paytas On The Clock.
PSR: How difficult was last year in terms of coming off a 100-loss season, and a lot of negative publicity regarding the ticket price hike and other controversial issues?
PP: It was so disappointing to come off a 100-loss season because everything was so wonderful with PNC Park. It was coming from such a high to going down the hill so quickly. All of it, to me, was very new. It was learning about everything in the organization and trying to figure out from a communications standpoint how we were going to move forward. I didn't look at it as being difficult, just that this is what the situation is.
PSR: What did you find out about being a female executive at this level of a professional sports organization?
PP: I left the ball club for six years and worked at a public relations firm that was predominantly women. I didn't think of it as being unusual. Other people would bring that to my attention. I found that my colleagues were extremely supportive. I think we have a very good team of people in the front office, as well as on the field. Also, I had experience in the sport. When I worked here the first time, I worked with the players in community relations activities. I had some experience in the industry and was better prepared for it.
PSR: How do you think people perceive you being a female in such a high level position in a professional organization?
PP: I don't really think about people looking at me as a female. I hope people look at me as a professional. That's how I hope to be evaluated.
PSR: What brought you back to the Pirates and baseball?
PP: I think it was doing something I really enjoy doing. I loved my experience at the public relations firm. I told many people, it was like going to grad school. I learned a tremendous amount about communications and public relations. When I had the opportunity to work as a consultant on the opening of the park, it was nice to be part of an environment where you make people happy.
PSR: Ten years of consecutive losing must be really something tough to deal with. How tough is it for someone who has been with the team for an extended period?
PP: It's reality. I was fortunate. I was here in 1990, '91 and '92. What I want is for the people in the front office who have not had that experience to have that experience because it's so wonderful. But it's the reality of our situation. People are very optimistic, right now. Last year was and improvement and people expect another improvement this year. Hopefully, things are on an upswing.