What I learned at Werner Park

Werner Park -- home of the first-place Storm Chasers
A funny thing happened while I was watching a minor-league baseball game last night.

I learned to never take a single thing I have for granted.

We’ve seen so many small towns along the way this week already, but Omaha really isn’t one of them. Still, as we took in last night’s Omaha/New Orleans AAA baseball game, we met a lot of really excited and driven folks that made me realize just how many people out there are working their tails off to make it to wherever they want to be.

It will stick with me for the rest of my career as a reminder that there are so many people out there that want my job. They want the job of our storm chasers on the tour, and some day, the people we met may be on major networks, getting paid by sponsors to chase these storms.

But mostly, yesterday was such a good refresher that no matter where you go in the country, there are tons of people working tediously to make a name for themselves. That was really cool.

We met Rob Crain, the assistant general manager of the ballclub. But, like everyone else working for the team, he does everything. Whether it’s catching the first pitch from Mike Bettes or standing outside the stadium with us for an hour, Rob is one of the good guys in sports. And in small towns like the one we’ve been in, there’s a lot of good people who will do whatever is asked of them.

We also met CT Thongklin, who was the meteorologist for the Omaha CBS affiliate. He had never been to a Chasers game, but he had seen on our Twitter account that we were coming to the game and wanted to meet us. He was a great guy, and in talking to him, you could tell how hard he wanted to be in our position. But he, like everyone else, understands that we were that little guy at one point, working as hard as it took to get to the big-time.

It’s actually been quite a learning experience, because I’ve never been “that guy” before — sporting the Weather Channel logo and having people get truly excited just to meet you and talk with you for a few minutes. But once you realize just how much it means to talk weather with these folks, it actually becomes quite a pleasure.

In other words, I have no idea how people in the public eye can be jerks to those who look up to them. Thank goodness nobody on this team is like that, because our fellow NBC colleagues on the trip have shared stories of folks who have been embarrassing to spend weeks with on the road. I’m not naming any names.

We also met a group of storm chasers who are spending their summer chasing tornadoes in between semesters of college. That was really cool, because you could see them getting inspired by what we do. They’re spending their own money to learn more about weather when they could be on a cruise or traveling through Europe, or just drinking by the pool.

Life on the road in this area of the country is tough, so baseball games and other fun activities are great to re-charge the batteries and get the mind back on track. But when we get to sit down with folks like the ones we met in Omaha, it reinvigorates to a whole new level.