As American as…
Over the course of his 14-year Major League Baseball (MLB) career, Mark Teixeira played for the Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and, of course, the New York Yankees. The first baseman won the World Series in 2009 and was a three-time All-Star. He also won five Gold Glove Awards and three Silver Slugger Awards and holds the all-time Major League record (14) for most games with a home run from both sides of the plate before retiring last year.
Teixeira has since joined sports media company ESPN as an analyst for its Major League Baseball coverage for the 2017-2018 season.
He’s also working with digital imaging brand Canon USA and its Little League Photo Contest, which is asking fans to submit their favorite baseball photos through June 30. Teixeira will be at the Little League World Series on August 27 to reveal the top photos and meet the winners.
Since its launch on May 1, the contest has received nearly 3,000 images, an agency rep claimed, as of June 12.
Little League Baseball is in and of itself a powerful brand – in fact, it says it is the world’s largest organized youth sports program, with 2.4 million players and one million adult volunteers in every US state and more than 80 countries.
This marks the fourth year Canon and Little League have teamed up, but it’s the first year the brand is working with Teixeira.
“Canon is proud to partner with the Little League World Series and team up with generations of families hoping to capture the moment where their Little Leaguer’s hard work and character is put on display,” said Yuichi Ishizuka, president and chief operating officer of Canon USA, in a statement.
The Drum recently sat down with Teixeira at an event at the home of youth sports organization New York Empire Baseball to talk about America’s pastime, endorsements and branding.
How did you get involved with this campaign?
I’ve always been very involved in youth baseball and working with kids and Canon’s partnership with Little League Baseball is kind of the perfect match for me. Now that I’m retired, I get to do a little bit more [of these types of] things during the season and to be able to do something cool with Canon at the Little League World Series was just a perfect match.
Did you play Little League?
I didn’t play in the actual Little League kind of branded league, but I’ve played baseball since I was five years old. I played youth baseball growing up and knew I loved it and have some really cute pictures in my childhood in my baseball uniform holding my bat.
Do your kids play Little League?
My kids play a little bit of everything – they’re 11, 9 and 6. My six-year-old doesn’t play organized baseball yet. My son played last year and really enjoys it, but they play all sports. I love just having them out there, playing anything they want.
And now you’re doing some broadcasting?
I work with ESPN part-time. I’m doing some fun things with them. That’s been a lot of fun. I’m still hanging around the game a little bit.
How did you get connected with Canon?
Through my agents at William Morris [Endeavour]. They were looking for the right person to kind of be a brand ambassador and we talked about [how I’m always] taking pictures of my kids in the backyard, like, playing Wiffle Ball, and my wife uses her camera all the time, but doesn’t print the pictures. We never print our pictures anymore and with [Canon’s] Pixma printer now, it’s so easy to be able to take pictures outside – they download right to your phone and you can print them out in a second and do some really fun things with them.
You’ve worked with brands like Nike and menswear company Hart Schaffner Marx and you’ve invested in social app SportsYapper and cold-pressed juice chain Juice Press. How do you choose what projects you attach your name to?
I choose the brands I work with very carefully. First of all, I don’t want to overextend myself and I really choose brands that are meaningful to me. And when I can do an event like this with kids, that’s why I choose a brand like Canon to work with, and any chance you can get to have fun with kids and show them a neat product, but also play baseball at the same time and have some fun, it’s a win-win.
While baseball may be foreign to some readers of The Drum, the Yankees are a recognizable brand all over the world. What does the Yankees name means to you?
The Yankees are the most powerful brand in sports. Our logo is a worldwide logo. I remember I was in Rome two months ago and saw Yankee hats all over the place. People were stopping me in the streets and talking to me about the Yankees and that’s halfway across the world, so it’s just a great brand to be a part of and I’m blessed to have been able to play for the Yankees for eight years.
Canon said all images in the Little League Photo Contest should “capture the spirit of what it is like to be a baseball fan” – what does that mean to you?
To me, baseball is about being outside, being with family and friends and touching the grass – those types of things – any picture you can take that shows you with your family, you with your kids, you with friends at a game or playing in the backyard or playing in your Little League, those are the kind of pictures we want because that’s what grows the game and makes it fun for everybody.