The two-part password of the night on Thursday will be “Play ball!” as the Myrtle Beach Pelicans begin their 15th season of baseball.
The Advanced-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers will open the Carolina League season with a four-game homestand against the Wilmington Blue Rocks, a Kansas City Royals farm club from Delaware – and the Pelicans’ farthest opponent in distance.
The Birds fielded a team of front office personnel to answer some questions and curiosities about baseball at the beach and all the preparations that go into playing host to 70 home games a year – and more with playoff action the past two years. They took turns sharing some facts:
• Andy Milovich, vice president and general manager, who joined the club in January after Scott Brown moved on to become the general manager of the Charlotte (N.C.) Knights, the Chicago White Sox’s Triple-A team in the International League.
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• Jen Borowski, director of promotions and marketing.
• Travis Lucian, the new media relations manager/broadcaster.
• Russ Pinkerton, director of in-game entertainment.
• Mike Snow, facility operations manager.
Milovich also pointed out how the fan experience – and the memories brought home – begin before anyone even sees the field to sit down and watch the game, from buying a ticket to having that ticket scanned at the gate for entry.
Question | How important is the Pelicans’ keeping a manually operated scoreboard on the first-base line, with the field hand updating it with each ball and strike?
Borowski | It’s a tribute to tradition – Wrigley Field and Fenway park might be the only two in Major League Baseball that still have a manual scoreboard. Here, if you’re sitting on the third-base side, in the sun, it can be difficult to see the digital scoreboard.
Q. | How many songs/videos are cued up for the big-screen scoreboard each game?
Pinkerton | We have a list of over 1,000 songs to our disposal, and we’ll probably end up playing close to a 100 songs. Videos vary from game to game but on average we’ll end up playing between 20 and 30 Pelican and sponsorship videos during a game.
Q. | How many bulbs light the field, and how many need replacement annually?
Snow | One-hundred thirty-two. It depends on the year; it’s pretty cyclical. We only did five this year, but did about a dozen last year.
Borowski | And I have only seen one light broken because of a foul ball.
Q. | For continued safety of everyone in the stadium, how many city police officers and paramedics are on hand at all games?
Snow | Two emergency medical technicians/medics, depending on who is assigned, and one to three officers, depending on the anticipated size of the crowd.
Q. | How many frankfurters were sold at the concession stands in 2012?
Milovich | 72,960 last year, and 52,160 of those were $1 hot dogs on “Weiner Wednesdays.”
Q. | How many baseballs are readied for each game?
Milovich | We have six dozen rubbed balls ready, costing about $50 a dozen.
Q. | How quick is the commercial break time between innings during each game cast?
Lucien | Ninety seconds.
Q. | During each game, what foods/beverages fuel your voice and endurance for a few hours?
Lucien | Lots of water ... sometimes in excess of 40 ounces. I have lots of water bottles.
Q. | How games this season will come with fireworks shows afterward, and where do fireworks nights rank in attendance?
Borowski | Eighteen this year. They’re our highest attendance nights, especially when packaged with “Thirsty Thursdays.”
Q. | On “Bark at the Park” nights, how many dogs typically turn out, and how many bowls of water and treats does Deuce the yellow Labrador, from the Pelicans mascot crew, make available for all brethren?
Borowski | About 150 dogs, and we have two kiddie pools that serve as water stations for the dogs. Also, we generally sell treats at the door, and funds go back to a pet-related charity.
Q. | When the team travels, how compact is the packing for everyone and equipment, and what is the furthest opponent?
Borowski | We use one team bus ... all the way to Wilmington, Del.
Q. | At this level of minor-league ball, how many umpires work each game?
Borowski | They partner is groups of two. Just like players: They want to get to the major league, too.
Q. | How many complimentary mini-magazines full of facts, statistics and team history for fans are printed for each homestand?
Borowski | We average about 9,500 per two-team homestand.
Q. | How many team pocket schedules are distributed across the area in such places as brochure racks, retailers and hotels?
Borowski | 400,000.
Q. | How vast is the staff size the rest of the year, and with part-time help on game days for ushering, concession sales and every other MVP who makes the fan experience complete?
Milovich | We have 17 full-time employees ... and more than 200 game-day employees.
Q. | Ushers number how many in that total?
Borowski | About 35 to 40. It depends on the event and amount of tickets presold, so on “Thirsty Thursdays,” we’ll have more.
Milovich | They play a huge role in ... the whole fan experience.
Q. | How many interns help round out the team in the front office and for games?
Borowski | Four in promotions, five game-day interns – they provide extra help in getting through the game ... two in operations, one in groundskeeping, one media intern, four in ticket sales and one in merchandise.
Q. | What does the newly launched “Make a Splash” marketing campaign aim for in this 15th anniversary season, to remind everyone of the Pelicans’ presence and stake in the community all year ‘round?
Milovich | We want to raise $250,000 for community-based initiatives. For example, on “Make a Splash Monday” home games, we’ll give half-price admission for a donation to Help 4 Kids’ “Backpack Buddies” program, which helps 2,400 needy kids in Horry County. (Fans are asked to bring Ramen noodles, Pop Tarts, individual servings of pudding or apple sauce, fruit cups, Beanie Weenies, Vienna sausage, cereal, and raviolis or chicken noodle soup in pop-top cans.)