Travis Fitta is a hitting coach in the Chicago Cubs minor league organization. He is currently the Assistant Hitting Coach for the Eugene Emeralds. He's a super nice guy and a great follow on Twitter. In early May, we talked for over an hour about everything baseball. While that conversation was packed with information, there was one really amazing and unique story he shared which I'd like to now share with you: his job interview with the Cubs.
Travis has a very unique story of how he got into professional baseball. He grew up in Rhode Island, as a huge Red Sox fan. Growing up, he got to see the Red Sox win it all in 2004, 2007 and 2011. He holds guys like Theo Epstein, Jon Lester, and David Ross in very high regard. After high school, he served with the military for nearly 6 years, doing deployments in Korea and Iraq. With about a year left in his contract, he was involved in a vehicular accident and was thrown through a windshield. He spent a year in rehab, learning to walk again.
After the army, he tried out for a local junior college's baseball team. He made the team, largely because of his personality and leadership skills he developed during his time in the military. After a year of playing, his elbow and shoulder were so messed up that he had to walk away from playing. For a hitting coach, he didn't have a long playing career. In terms of playing baseball overall, he has very little experience.
From late 2017-2019, Travis worked for several different organizations, doing private instruction for hitting. He developed strong systems for improving player's hitting ability, and would get very tangible results quickly, which would often lead to a quick promotion to a bigger stage. Somewhat unintentionally, he marketed himself well on Twitter, where people would see that a Travis Fitta coached hitter added .200 to his OPS after just a couple months work. Travis also networked very well, meeting the community of hitting coaches via Twitter, and allowing him to develop a positive reputation.
In October of 2019, at the age of just 29, Travis got a Twitter message from Justin Stone, the Cubs new director of hitting. They talked a bit, and then Travis was selected to interview with the Chicago Cubs, at Wrigley Field.
Full stop: Can you imagine doing something for just a couple of years, and being so successful at it that one of the top companies in your industry seeks you out for a job opening? And on Twitter of all places? And while you are still just in your late 20s? Then you are flown in for an interview at Wrigley Field, of all places.
Here's how it all happened:
Travis: Around October of 2019, I got a Twitter message of all things from Justin Stone. At the time I I knew he was the Cubs' biokinetics consultant. After talking for a bit, he flat out asked me if I was interested in becoming a hitting coach for the Chicago Cubs organization My first answer, I want to jump through the phone, absolutely yes. Why would you even ask me that? What I did say is "Of course I am." At this point, I'd been coaching less than two years. I wasn't even thinking in my professional baseball at that time. I was more focused on getting our guys ready for the season. But you are always going to take that call, and see what's out there.
And Justin and I had about an hour phone call. We'd get into the specifics what he was looking for, what they were getting ready to do, and transition into, especially in player development. Later on, I had to go through a long stretch of interviews, written assessments, talking with lots of great people about what I do, what I believe in, and how I think I can help.
I flew into Chicago while I had to meet them down at the complex and offices right at Wrigley Field. My interview was at one, I got in around nine o'clock in the morning. I'm sitting outside at Wrigley in a suit for like three or four hours and it's, it's a really hot October day, of course. It seemed unseasonably warm, but then again, I'd never been to Chicago until that point. I was sweating, partially nervous for this interview. I was very confident, but at the same time, and I still have butterflies because it's the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
I go in there and it was a very long interview. I talked to a lot of people and really had to answer a ton of questions. For a part of that interview, Justin took me down to the locker room, getting to see behind the scenes stuff: the locker room, the strength facility, and others. In between two meetings, they walked me up the steps into an empty Wrigley Field.
Walking out into Wrigley by myself pretty much, and just flashing through the memories I had about Cubs baseball and what they'd done here, the history, and this legacy. That was the coolest moment I had. Sometimes I forget in my head that that moment really did really happen. To me, that was the most amazing thing I think that'll ever happen to me in my lifetime. Just being able to step on that field by myself and really have that real moment.
I'm a very confident person. I've been through a lot in my life. Not a whole lot of things get me weak in the knees. but walking up those steps and just having that butterfly feeling in my stomach and my legs are shaking, and I'm still in the middle of an interview. We were just taking a break there in between meetings, basically just killing a few minutes. But from that moment forward in the interview, I knew that there was no place else I ever wanted to be.
I loved everything about it. I think seeing Wrigley field on TV does not do it justice. Being there in person and you realize just how close the fans are to the action. And you see just how much Ivy there is. It's unlike anything I've ever seen.
Back to the interview, I met with a lot of the behind the scenes guys. Not as many well known people that the fans would recognize by name. A lot of it was getting deep and dirty with Justin Stone, because he's the new director of hitting, and he's setting up a whole new system. I got to talk with R&D, which was really cool. It scares you a little bit because you can't prop up information like these guys can. These guys are truly gifted.
This let me know that I was in the right hands if I got this job, because these guys are going to get the answer I might need. They're very passionate about this job.
I did get to meet Theo. It wasn't actually a part of my interview. I just happened to be walking by at the right time from one part of the interview to the next. And that's where I had my little, fan girl moment. I'm from Boston, I'm a Red Sox fan, and I'm meeting the legendary architect. For five minutes we talked about Boston and that history. He ended it with a "I hope to have you on" In that moment, it was super cool to me because when I was talking to my family and my friends about it, they all were like "you got to meet THE guy!" To most people in Boston, he is the legend put together those world series winners for us. And so for me that was a really awesome moment.
It was unlike any interview that anyone's ever done before. I have such overwhelming passion for this game and professional baseball. Being in pro ball was something you looked at and said, "well there's no way I'll ever be there, so I won't even do anything to try." But from the moment I took on coaching, I always that professional baseball is where I want to be. I really didn't care if I got there, or how I got there, or how fast it took me to get there. I just wanted to be in baseball. I really love the sport. I love working with players. To get into coaching and then two years later and I get the call, that will never get old.
So much in those moments I really felt like I didn't know enough. During this interview,I answered to the best of my ability. I don't claim to have all the answers. I don't claim to be the smartest guy in the room. The one thing I talked with everyone in that process was my favorite part about being a coach. What I do is build relationships with players and have them understand and believe that their development is my priority. I really just want to get guys to where they need to be.
The process took the entire month of October. I'm sure there was more than just me going through the interview process. Right around the end of the month, I got a call back from Justin and he said, "We love you. We think you're going to be great. We're going to offer you the job." I took that hitting coach position for the Eugene Emeralds. My title and role is assistant hitting coach. And that's how I got to where I am now."
Welcome to the Cubs organization Travis! We are happy to have you here!