Usher Really Digs His Work

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Source: chrisaram2, via pixabay (CC0)

This piece is one of six usher profiles I wrote that were published by Major League Baseball on the San Francisco Giants website in 2004. They originally appeared in my Guest Services paper newsletter, ‘The Home Plate.’ To read the piece online, click here.

During homestands throughout baseball season, Alex Shuey can be found supervising his crew of ushers on the third-base side of the View Level at SBC Park. To say he’s been a fixture there would be an understatement — since beginning work at the ballpark when it opened, he’s missed exactly one game. Total.

Shuey was promoted to supervisor in May 2000. He showed up to work one day and couldn’t find his name on the location sheet. A Muni accident had shut down N-train service that day, and as he said, “I was freaked out because I was 10 minutes late.” Thinking he was not staffed due to this, he approached then-Guest Services manager Julie Radford to plead his case, and she let him know the reason was because he was now the supervisor. “It was baptism by fire,” Shuey said of his immersion into the job.

Shuey won Supervisor of the Year co-honors that year and received the Isiah Nelson Spirit Award last year for “spirit, dedication and loyalty,” and he recently expressed incredulity about both awards.

“I’m still surprised,” he said of the Nelson award, “and when I won Supervisor of the Year I was shocked. I’m deeply honored to get both awards.”

A fourth-generation native San Franciscan, Shuey lives downtown, sometimes sharing his apartment with his sister Alethea, who also works in Guest Services. Their father, George Shuey, is a noted San Francisco contemporary artist, whose work is in the permanent collection of the Legion of Honor and is shown regularly in galleries here and abroad.

Besides his dedication to his job with the Giants, Shuey’s longtime passion has been archaeology in general, and Egyptology in particular.

“At 14, I knew that Egyptology was what I wanted to do,” he said. “It was a fascinating time in history that I wanted to know more about.”

To that end, he attended classes at Diablo Valley College while still in high school in Walnut Creek, where his family had moved, taking such classes as Humanities of the Middle Ages and Cultural Anthropology. By the time he graduated from Las Lomas High, he already had 12 college credits. “I wanted to get a head start on college,” he explains.

His first archaeological dig came in 1995, when he was a college student at both Diablo Valley and City College of San Francisco. The dig was on Mount Diablo and was a detailed survey of an open-space area there. For a full year, Shuey participated in the dig and said, “You never know what you’re going to find. California archaeology was never my goal to go into, but I had no other recourse for getting the field-work experience.”

After a temporary stop, Shuey continued in school until 1999, when he moved back to San Francisco full time to work. He did phone sales for local cultural institutions, especially the San Francisco Opera, for whom he did three subscription campaigns.

Shuey became aware that the Giants were hiring staff while he was looking online to see what the giveaways were going to be for the 2000 season. It was their inaugural season at then-Pacific Bell Park, and Shuey realized, “This is not gonna happen again. Wow, why not work out there and see the games?” He attended the first job fair, held in February 2000, and was hired.

Growing up, Shuey was more of a football fan and was loyal to the 49ers. However, in 1987, when he was 10 years old, he began attending Giants games at Candlestick Park somewhat regularly with his dad, going to around 20 games that division-winning year. They also made it to some playoff games against the Cardinals, who eventually won the National League Championship Series over the Giants. For a few years afterward, the Shueys became season ticket holders and continued attending games until the early ’90s, when Alex’s mom passed away.

Rick Mears, Vice President of Guest Services, tells how impressed he was in 2000 when such a young person took on the responsibilities of supervising so smoothly and seemingly unconsciously.

“He has a skill for handling people well, and it’s a talent,” said Mears. “Not many people have it, and very few people learn it at his young age. Alex is well thought of throughout the organization — not just Guest Services.”

A self-described nocturnal creature, Shuey watches news of world events, especially the Middle East due to his archaeological interests, and reads a lot of non-fiction on the topic of Egyptology. His ultimate desire is to return to school and continue with that career, but acknowledges that “what we do is very specialized,” with limited opportunities for jobs.

But for now, he’s content to be part of the Giants organization and continue the work he’s doing here. “I don’t know how long I’ll be here, but for the foreseeable future, I’m here,” he said. “I’m very committed to seeing the Giants succeed.”

Author: paulaonpoint

I live in Oakland, CA and am a native of Trenton, NJ. I love everything about the ocean, especially friendly whales. I'm a warrior in the fight to protect and restore Planet Earth. And I'm a cat person, as Ziggy and ZuZu can attest.