Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: Yvette Yzaguirre

September 15th, 2022
Yvette Yzaguirre celebrated her one-year anniversary with the Mariners last month.

Yvette Yzaguirre’s journey to the Mariners was not unlike many players. She fell in love with the game at an early age, worked her way through the Minor Leagues and received her call to the big leagues. But then again, her journey couldn’t have been more different.

That “call” came in the form of an offer letter to join the Mariners as an Activation Specialist with the Corporate Partnerships team in August 2021. In the role, she manages a portfolio of 12 sponsorship accounts across a variety of industries.

For Yzaguirre, it’s more than a job. It’s the product of the hard work she put in as a first-generation college student. It’s inspired by her parents and the sacrifices they made to support her family. It’s her chance to pay it forward to other Latin American women and women in baseball. And it’s a dream come true.

Community in baseball

Yzaguirre grew up in Pasco, Wash., where her parents worked in the fields picking asparagus, cherries and potatoes. In the summer, they worked in the evening to avoid the heat and slept during the day. On those hot summer days, Yzaguirre took her younger siblings to the baseball field across the street to get them out of the house. A softball player, Yzaguirre had a few friends who were on a tournament team that played games at that field.

“Over time the parents [of the baseball players] picked up on it,” she said. “They probably thought, ‘Where are these kids’ parents?’ They did a great job of making us feel included and giving us a place to belong.”

Before they knew it, Yzaguirre and her siblings were helping to sell tickets and work concessions. They also announced a few games. Parents of the players even brought Yzaguirre and her siblings on road trips -- with her parents’ permission, of course.

“They really took us in,” Yzaguirre said. “I’m very grateful for that and those summers with them. They gave us a place to belong.”

Yzaguirre knew she loved baseball and the sense of community she experienced with those high school baseball families. When she thought about a future career, she wondered if there was a job where she could incorporate both.

Chasing down a dream

In high school, Yzaguirre participated in DECA, a career readiness program. During an event in Bellevue, a staff member in ballpark operations from the Mariners spoke to the group. She connected with him via email, asked him a slew of questions and did a job shadow. It was an opportunity to find out if her dream job existed.

“When I found out that it did, I decided then at 17: I don’t know how or when, but I am going to work for the Mariners someday,” said Yzaguirre.

With the dream set in motion, Yzaguirre emailed every single Minor League Baseball team.

“Anyone who would be willing to talk to me about what I needed to do to work in the field,” she said. “I had a lot of people help and be kind enough to answer questions.”

As a first-generation student at the University of Idaho, pursuing a double major in marketing and management was the priority. But Yzaguirre also sought every opportunity to get on-the-job experience. She worked as a marketing intern with Idaho’s athletic department and applied for every summer baseball internship she could find. The one that landed was a rotational internship with the Connecticut Tigers’ Minor League team.

Following that summer, she interned with the Spokane Indians in marketing and promotions and found a role for herself with the Washington State University baseball program. After graduation, her internship with the Indians turned into a full-time position in which she worked in marketing, sponsorships and community relations. She stayed there for three years until she landed a six-year stint with the Tacoma Rainiers, leading their Partner Services team.

Yvette Yzaguirre on the job with Spokane.

All the while, she applied to jobs with the Mariners and wondered if she would ever get that “call” to the big leagues. Then -- after 10 years in the Minors -- the offer letter came the week before her 30th birthday. Shortly after joining the club, Yzaguirre hosted her family in a suite. The group included her parents, eight siblings and nieces and nephews. It was a special moment for the family.

“My dad got really emotional in the suite. He said, ‘Look at how beautiful our life is, look at where we are. This is our family and how far we’ve come from.’”

The emotion of that day grew even stronger when in the seventh inning, her father shared that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. “He told me, ‘You’re going to be OK, you’ve made it, you’re doing what you want to do.’ I said, ‘I didn’t do this just so you could pass away.’ But I am glad that he was able to see me get here.”

Yvette Yzaguirre (second from right) with her family at the Mariners game on Sept. 11, 2021.

Paying it forward

Today, Yzaguirre’s father Genaro is undergoing treatment and doing well. Her inspiration not only comes from her father, but her mother Petra also.

“Their sacrifices are the reason that I’m here, especially being a first-generation college student,” Yzaguirre said.

Her mother immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico and worked for several years to earn citizenship, all while taking care of the family. Yzaguirre notes that she draws on Petra’s strength at various times during her career, moments when she might be hard on herself.

“There was nobody who wanted it more than me, and I think I got it from her,” she said.

Yvette Yzaguirre with her mother, Petra, in 1992.

Yzaguirre also finds a great deal of pride in her culture, and Hispanic Heritage Month provides an opportunity to amplify her story.

“I think it’s important that I do my duty to be a representation not only of my culture, but also for women, “said Yzaguirre. “It also gives me a moment to regroup and ask, what else can I do?”

Trying to create that sense of community, inviting folks from the Latin community to the ballpark and showing that it’s a place to belong remains important to Yzaguirre. And she will always do what she can to do help to pay it forward for other young professionals.

“Not only am I Latin, but I am a female in a male-dominated industry,” she said. “Any time I can help answer questions or offer support, I try my best to do that.”