Growing up, I always anxiously awaited Opening Day at Fenway Park. The city of Boston always turned its attention to the Boston Red Sox, with the hope of eventually bringing home a World Series trophy six months later. I realized this week, however, that when you work for a baseball team, Opening Day is marked by a much different and more hectic atmosphere.
After driving for hours and covering hundreds of miles, I arrived in the city of around 30,000 having no idea what to expect. Falcon Park, the home of the Auburn Doubledays, is one of the smallest stadiums in Minor League Baseball, with a capacity of around 2,800. Even though the stadium is small, baseball is ingrained in the Auburn community, with a team calling Auburn home since 1958. The big news around Auburn is that Ryan Ripken, son of the great Carl Ripken Jr., is playing for the Doubledays.
I never truly understood the concept of a “Minor” League Baseball team until this week. With a limited full-time staff, each member of the Auburn Doubledays front office must wear many hats. After a relatively calm first few days, my sixteen hour day on Opening Day showed me just what it takes to work for a Minor League Baseball team. Here is the breakdown of how I spent Opening Day:
8:30 AM: I arrive at the park to transform into Abner, the mascot of the Doubledays. Abner is one of the most unique mascots in Minor League Baseball. Check out his picture, along with a large amount of pictures of Falcon Park from Ben Hill, here.
9:00 AM: I march in a parade as Abner while giving what seems like an endless amount of high-fives to excited students.
10:00 AM: A large majority of my time between returning from being Abner and the opening of the gates is spent in the ticket office. There is a lot to get ready for game time as over two thousand fans are anticipated for Opening Day.
5:00 PM: Fans start coming to the park more steadily. People are disappointed to find out we are sold out of Box Seats, but they are still excited to get in the park to take in the action.
6:00 PM: The gates open and the ticket office is flooded with fans who need tickets.
7:05 PM: The game starts but there seems to be no end to the people entering the stadium. Following the game tonight there are fireworks, which gets nearly everybody excited.
9:00 PM: The ticket sales dwindle and we are left in the ticket office figuring out the final attendance figures for the night.
9:30 PM: The game wraps up, with the Doubledays beating the Batavia Muckdogs 3-0, and the fireworks begin shortly after the final pitch.
10:00 PM: All the fans are gone and we are working through making sure everything is in order to close up a successful Opening Day.
12:30 AM: I finish up with my duties in the ticket office and head home for the night.
It was a long day, but I loved every second of it. The people in the office are great and make working long and unusual hours a ton of fun.
The Doubledays won the second game of the series against Batavia on Saturday night 5-1 and look to extend their winning ways as they open up a three-game series at Falcon Park against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers on Sunday. The team then travels to Aberdeen, Maryland to take on the Aberdeen Ironbirds before returning home on Saturday, June 25th to start a three-game series against the Williamsport Crosscutters.
In other news, my review of the Albany Dutchmen and Bellizzi Field should be up on the Reviews part of the website soon. Unfortunately, I will not be reviewing any new stadiums this week.
Until next week,