QUINCY — Maybe the most asked question Jacob Hollensteiner has faced since it was announced he was taking over as the Quincy Gems general manager hasn’t had anything to do with the team or even baseball.
“Everyone I have told has asked, ‘What are you going to do now though?’” he said.
Understandably curious since the Prospect League is eight months away, those fans aren’t aware of the planning and preparation it takes to pull off a 60-game summer season. Sponsorships need sold, events need planned, a roster needs assembled and a staff needs hired.
So there will be plenty for Hollensteiner to do before he ever sees a pitch thrown.
“It’s funny because people have said, ‘Well, you only play in the summer,’” said Hollensteiner, a Quincy native. “Getting the community involved is a big thing. Coming up with ideas, not only to generate revenue, but to get the community involved is a big part of what we do. Those are the things we need to do now.
“We really want to build and cultivate an atmosphere for the players and coaches so it’s not, ‘Oh, I’m just coming here to play baseball.’ We want to grow and expand on what we can do to help them in baseball and in life.”
Hollensteiner’s new role, along with Daniel Smith’s promotion to assistant general manager after spending the 2021 season as director of sales and business operations, is the growth Gems owners Jimmie and Julie Louthan sought.
“It brings in new ideas,” Jimmie Louthan said. “It’s an extra hand that we trust.”
Louthan will continue to oversee some of the big-picture projects, such as building the team roster, but it frees he and his wife up for another endeavors. Hollensteiner will be in charge of the day-to-day operations and responsible for fostering community support.
“He’s going to stay very much involved in the process,” Hollensteiner said of Louthan.
Hollensteiner and Louthan both believe the collaboration will enhance the Gems’ profile and make the gameday experience better for everyone involved.
That’s a path and a challenge Hollensteiner says he was called to take.
“I kind of found myself in the last two years,” said Hollensteiner, whose has two daughters — Malia and Chloe — with his wife, Kyleen, and they are expecting their third child in the spring. “I’ve gotten really into my faith. I got baptized and started praying to see what kind of direction I should go or what I should do. I made it a point to pursue what I was called to do and what I felt I was passionate about.”
Hollensteiner spent time over the past two years working with the Western Illinois chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, first as a volunteer and then as a part-time staff member. Last summer, he approached the Louthans about doing ministry with any interested players and serving as a guide in and around Quincy.
He met with players once a week and developed a connection.
“All summer long, I kept going out there and serving them in any way that I could,” Hollensteiner said.
It opened the door to this opportunity.
“I was leaving one of the last games of the season and Jimmy was like, ‘You ready to be GM?’” Hollensteiner said. “I thought he was joking, so I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, absolutely.’ Next thing I know we’re sitting down for lunch at Kelly’s and going over the specifics.”
It led to a new chapter for the franchise and a new career path for Hollensteiner.
“I attest it to my faith and prayer,” he said. “I attest it to me serving before I was leading so to speak.”
This is the chance to do both.
“I had to pinch myself to know this is actually happening,” Hollensteiner said. “It’s a dream and a blessing.”