NOW that it’s Officially Baseball Season…
Read on for a somewhat football free post:
My friends who have “normal” jobs (normal: 9am-5pm schedule; no tarp clothes stashed under desks; never have conversations with a mute mythical sea creature named Slugger, etc.) often ask me “So Liz, what do you do in the off season?” The way they emphasize “do” makes me feel like they expect me to say “oh you know, in general, I just sit on my hands and eat cake while counting down the days until April”.
This description is only partially true, because while the Sea Dogs staff loves a good birthday cake, we are anything but idle in the off season.
Long before the last out is registered on Labor Day at Hadlock Field, the next season’s planning is already well underway. Usually by September, we have a super top secret sketch of the following season’s schedule. From this, we start to lay out our various promotional events that have become staples in our season and look for new events to plan. Fireworks, Most Improved Student Days, Teacher Appreciation Day, Field of Dreams, Road Races, Special Guest Appearances (Rob Gronkowski in 2011, Seargent Slaughter and Mr. Belding slated for 2012) are just a fraction of the events we plan and they require quite a bit of lead time. The cooperation of our sponsors is obviously enormously important in making sure these events take place for our fans each season. At the risk of sounding self-important and ego-driven (I’ve been accused of worse) I must also add that the Sea Dogs staff is important in this as well.
But, there is a group of people who rarely get recognized for their efforts in putting on a baseball season and all of the extracurricular events that includes—The Coaching Staff. Kevin Boles, Dave Joppie and Bob Kipper will be back for the 2012 season. Joppie and Kipper have spent some time coaching in Portland before, so they are aware of our sometimes dysfunctional family atmosphere in our tight-knit front office. 2011 was Kevin’s first season as a manager in Portland and we are thrilled to have him back for 2012. Without a
good great (Flattery Alert!) coaching staff, none of the fun events that have become synonymous with Minor League Baseball would come to fruition.
One of the things that makes Minor League Baseball such an easy sell (family friendly environment, catering to the tastes of both the casual and hard core sports fans alike, affordable prices, clean facilities….need I go on?) is the fact that there is always so much happening at the games. Love the sport of baseball? Great, come on in, have a seat. Don’t care for baseball too much? No problem. Today at the park you can have some dinner and be entertained by one of the many themed events or special appearances we have scheduled throughout the season. To make sure all of the events go off smoothly and include all of the necessary elements such as participation of players, use of the field, use of equipment, etc., we need to make sure we communicate effectively with the coaching staff. We do this through memos and meetings.
Memos are brutal instruments of torture in any office setting. They’re so definitive. So bossy. Mine are no different. A couple of days before each home stand, I go over the next series of games, promotions, pre-game events, appearances, and times with Kevin so he can convey this to the team. I have to let him know if there are any special jerseys or hats they must wear for a game, if there is a special autograph session for military families or season ticket holders, an appearance or occasionally a golf tournament. The best way to do this is with a definitive and bossy memo. (I can actually feel your eyes glazing over now…much like Kevin’s do at each meeting) This “memo” details EVERYTHING that our team and Kevin are scheduled to take part in. (ZZZzzzzz) Basically, it is the schedule for the week that dictates when the team can and cannot have a moment to themselves.
Sometimes I forget that while the season might be 71 games long for me, it is 142 games long for the team and coaching staff. That makes for a long season, and a lot of being told what to do. Kevin, Kipper and Joppie could not have been more gracious and helpful in making our season a success. No matter the length of the memo or the length of the days planned, Kevin always smiled and said “No problem”, even if he was thinking of a variety of four letter words that would describe the piece of paper in front of him. The team and coaching staff were not only on time at all of the appearances, but they were also personable, friendly and down to earth. If you have ever attended our Fan Appreciation Game on the last Sunday in September, you know the attitude that I am taking about. Our team emerges from a corn field in the outfield, and enters the stands and thanks the fans for a great season. I have worked in Minor League Baseball long enough to be immune to some of the events that occur on the field. But, the Field of Dreams game is still my most favorite promotion and one of the most moving things that I see all year.
After viewing that brief promo clip, you might have noticed that the team is wearing special replica uniforms from the Portland Eskimos. Do they look breathable? I’m not sure what the wicking technology was in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but I am fairly certain Under Armour was not incorporated then. Regardless, the team and coaching staff are all in for this promo, a fact made evident by the looks on the faces of the fans as they greet them in their seats. This promo, and all of the others that we do each year would not be possible without the exceptional attitude of the coaching staff, and for that, we thank them.
I’ve already started working on my Memo’s for the 2012 season. I have through May completed. From here, I will only have about 60-70 more events to map out. I hope to see you there at at least twenty or thirty of them.
At the risk of sounding too “the glass is half full” today, I wanted to leave you with a list of things to look forward to. We are now muddling through “The Most Dark Time”; the time in between the Event that Shall Not Be Named and Pitchers and Catchers reporting. Do not despair, New England. We have:
- February 19-Boston Red Sox Pitchers and Catchers report
- March 11-Spring Forward! No excuses not to run outside anymore.
- April 12-Opening Day at Hadlock Field.
Hang in there, New England. Baseball season begins in mere days. Just enough time to kick start your post-winter work out and get few layers of spray tan applied. In 66 more days I expect to see your bronzed faces lighting up the stands at Hadlock Field.