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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Brown

The Stadium Team

Each summer millions of Americans flock to one of the 30 MLB stadiums to enjoy a baseball game. Their attention, for the most part, is on the players from both teams on the field. However, there is a much larger team operating behind the scenes to ensure that fans have a fun time at the ballpark and that their respective teams are playing at their top performance level.

Working at the Ballpark by Tom Jones explores the many functions people perform at the ballpark to enhance the fan experience and their team’s chances of delivering a win for the home team He does this through interviews with a wide variety of players, staff and the media. Chapters explore the front office, the dugout, the field of play, the bullpen, the stands, the electronic and print media, and the clubhouse.

The Mover’s and Shakers chapter looks at the front office of several clubs and includes conversations with owners, general managers, and directors of player personnel. It also features a discussion with a principal in the architectural firm of HOK Sports on how the fan experience is central to the design of the ballpark.

The In the Dugout section looks at the role of the manager, the various specialty coaches and the trainer in putting the best team possible on the field each night.

The Field of Play chapter features several players, an umpire, and a ballboy and gives readers an overview of the gameday schedule, which begins several hours before the first pitch. This includes watching tape on the opposing team, batting practice, and strategy sessions with the coaches. The unique world of the relief pitcher is covered in the Bullpen section of the book. It features conversations with the bullpen coach and members of the relief staffs of many teams.

The In the Stands section focuses on the many ways that teams focus on the fan experience. The ticketing staff discusses the ins and outs of choosing the best seats available for the fan, while an usher discusses their role in guiding the fans to their seats, as well as being a point of contact for any questions a fan might have about the location of a stadium amenity. A peanut vendor and a beer vendor discuss their roles in the very important area of fan concessions.

The Eyes and Ears chapter discusses the role of media in the stadium experience. It includes conversations with a beat writer, a sports columnist, and a sports talk show host. The section also looks at the in-game staff which includes the scoreboard operator, the public address announcer, and the official scorekeeper.

The closing chapter of Working at the Ballpark explores the many supporting roles staff plays in the fan experiences. A member of the community affairs department discusses the role the team plays in the nonprofit world. The director of merchandising shares how they create new products each season to meet the fan demand for the latest apparel and other team products.  

This chapter also covers the important role of support staff in working on team needs. The clubhouse manager is a jack of all trades, as they are responsible for feeding the players before and after the game, doing the laundry, as well as preparing the clubhouse for the next game. The head groundskeeper discusses the ins and outs of having the field in the best possible condition for each game. The Director of Team Travel shares his many tasks for road trips, including reserving planes, making hotel arrangements in the visiting city, and making sure buses are available to pick up and deliver the team to the stadium, the hotel, and the airport.

Tom Jones provides fans with unique insights on all the staff necessary to put on a major league game. His use of conversations with the people who fill these roles gives a real authenticity to his narrative. We think any true baseball fan will enjoy Working at the Ballpark and its behind-the-scenes look at a day at the ballpark.

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