JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, TX -- Baseball is often referred to as America's national pastime – a sport cherished by millions of fans across the country. Now the Air National Guard has partnered with Minor League Baseball teams in a unique effort to build brand awareness and reach future Airmen of the Air National Guard.
The partnership aims at promoting career opportunities in the Air National Guard by leveraging the popularity and reach of MiLB teams to target potential recruits. The initiative is part of the Air Force Total Force Recruiting approach, which brings together active duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve components to help achieve the Air Force's recruitment goals.
Master Sgt. Daniel Bedford, Air National Guard, National Events and Marketing Liaison at Air Force Recruiting Service, has been working partnerships with MiLB teams since 2017. In 2022 he helped orchestrate the partnership with 20 MiLB teams; in 2023 the Air National Guard has expanded its partnerships to include 66 MiLB teams to expand recruiting events and other activities that highlight the mission and the career opportunities of the Air National Guard. These events range from flyovers during opening day ceremonies to coordinated visits by local Total Force Recruiters during games.
“I believe it's important the Air National Guard is able to reach local communities through sports.” Bedford said. “What a great opportunity to partner with America’s pastime and share our story with families connecting over their favorite baseball teams.”
Besides game day events, the partnership will give the Air National guard exposure to millions of viewers through Air Force commercials broadcasted on videoboards at parks, an array of social media, radio and television features.
"We are honored to team up with MiLB teams across the country to showcase our Air National Guard locations and promote the exciting career opportunities available in the Air National Guard," said Lt. Col. Robert Fore, Air National Guard, Deputy Director of Marketing at Air Force Recruiting Service.
In addition to pre-game events, the Air National Guard also collaborates with teams to host special programs that provide fans with an immersive experience of what it's like to be in the Air Force. These programs can include virtual reality simulations of Air Force operations and equipment as well as meet and greets with Air Force members.
"Our goal through this partnership is to not just recruit the next generation into the Air National Guard, but to also educate the public about the important role the Air National Guard and other Air Force components have in our local communities and nation," said Fore.
As part of the Total Force Recruiting program, the Air National Guard is leveraging its partnership with MiLB teams to target potential recruits who possess the skills and abilities needed for a successful career as an Airman.
"We know that the younger generation who are drawn to baseball have many of the essential qualities required to be an Air National Guard member, including teamwork, discipline, and a commitment to excellence," Fore said. "We want to show them that those skills can translate into a rewarding career in Air National Guard."
The partnership with MiLB teams is just one of the many initiatives the Air National Guard has launched to attract new recruits. The Air Force is also working to expand its reach through digital platforms, social media, and targeted advertising campaigns.
Through these initiatives, the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and the active duty Air Force hopes to attract a diverse pool of talent that reflects the nation it serves. The Air Force is actively seeking applicants from all backgrounds to join its ranks.
"Diversity makes us stronger as a force, and we are committed to ensuring our recruiting efforts reflect that belief." Fore said.
The Air National Guard's partnership with MiLB teams allows total force recruiters to interact with thousands of fans at MiLB games across the country. While the partnership provides an opportunity to promote career opportunities in the Air Force, it's also a chance inform potential recruits learn about to ability to serve their way in the Air Force whether active duty, Air National Guard, or Air Force Reserve.
"Baseball is a sport that brings people together, and we are proud to work with MiLB teams to foster that sense of unity and patriotism," Fore said. "We hope that our partnership inspires young people across the country to consider joining the Air Force and make a difference in the world."