Player Rituals, Scripts, Camps and more…

 Me as the Green Arrow on Superhero Night with Optimus Prime & Bumble Bee

It has been a while, Keys fans. I am Brandon Apter, Promotions Manager for the Keys. I hope you all have enjoyed posts by our seasonal staff member, Kevin Brown. He has gone into some great depth about what goes on here at Harry Grove Stadium on game days. I just wanted to share a post with everyone about some of the cool and not so cool things that happen while working in baseball. Being a young professional in baseball is enjoyable…it is fun, you get to spend the summer outside and get to enjoy America’s pastime, the game of baseball. It is always nice seeing young prospects show their stuff as they move through the system trying to get to the bigs. Us here in the minors don’t really get to pay much, if any, attention to the game. All of us are focused on the operations of the game when fans are in the seats.

Pre-game Ritual…

To start things off, I want you all to see something unique that happens here each game prior to taking the field. Keys reliever, Will Startup, has a pre-game “ritual” of grooving/dancing to our open video which features the song “Burn it to the Ground” by Nickelback. Here is Will’s dance for your viewing pleasure…

In a post of mine way back, I posted a bunch of videos you may see if you come to a Keys game during the pre-game/in-game part of things so I am glad that one showed up on youtube.

Molding the Game…

Pregame starts for myself earlier in the day as I prepare the game scripts. I have just taken over this responsibility recently and am enjoying it. For pre-game, every minute from a half an hour prior to the game until the first pitch is covered on a timeline. The timeline inculdes any pre-game presentations, announcing of lineups along with sponsor reads and first pitches. After that, every inning is blocked with an in-game promotion (trivia game in the stands or on-field promotion), video, sponsor read or an inning sponsorship. Everything is placed in a specific spot to keep the fans attention between the game. I make sure never to put two trivia games in a row just to mix things up. All of the in-games, for the most part, are sponsored for a full season (70 games) or half season (35 games). So, we have a quota to meet when it comes to these and every time I make a script, I tally which games we do. The game script is used by myself, the emcees, marketing department along with the game day interns. The whole game relies on the script so it is super cool to be able to create what is going on in games.

Baseball Camps Add to the Craziness…

If you thought that working in baseball was tiring to this point, baseball camps add to the exhaustion throughout the year. Here with the Keys, we have two sessions of baseball camps for ages 5-10 while we also have a pitching camp for kids ages 11-17. Throughout the regular baseball camps, players instruct kids on the basics of baseball whether it is fielding ground balls, taking a lead at any base or even cleaning your cleats. We have some players that are great with kids and make the experience awesome for them. Camps run from 9am-12pm, which means I am here around 8:15 getting things ready for sign-in and such. We have game day interns help out as well to make things run smoothly. There are different stations kids go to as well. One is baserunning and others are grounders, pitching techniques, outfield fly balls, tee hitting, batting cages and the clubhouse. Kids stay at each station for 15-20 minutes and rotate, practicing different drills each day to sharpen and improve their skills. The camps are always a fun thing to be involved with. I work in baseball because I love the sport and these kids come to the camps to learn how to play from players who love the game.

Fireworks Are Pretty, Yet Messy…

Those of you who come out to the Keys game on any weekend night game are treated to a night of fireworks that light up the Frederick sky. Fireworks are minor league baseball’s trademark because they always draw fans. I mean, come on…who doesn’t like fireworks? The show goes on for about 10 minutes then fans filter out of the stadium. Meanwhile, on the field, the front office staff begins the sometimes strenuous task of firework debris pickup. Little shards of cardboard blown into the stadium thanks to wind makes some weekend nights 30-45 mins longer than normal. Depending on which way the wind blows, pickup of the blast debris can be in just one area or scattered all over the outfield. On hot days, it is a task that makes you sweat a lot more than you would normally like to. Sure, music is playing and an occasional Keys staff member will start breaking out in song. Luckily, none of the fireworks pieces have been still active this season thus far. Picking them up is a pain but the other issue is the black ash stain it leaves on your hands. Spending time scrubbing your hands clean of ash finishes off a night of firework pickup.

Well, that about wraps up some of the extra stuff us baseball professionals encounter throughout the season. Until next time, Shake Your Keys!

-Brandon Apter

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