First-year Myrtle Beach Pelicans general manager Scott Brown has been a baseball businessman almost as long as he's been a fan.
To him, the two roles are almost one in the same.
"Especially in the minor leagues, the business is all about the fans," Brown said. "People not only come to the ballpark to see baseball, they come to have a good time. It's our job to make sure they get more than they pay for."
It's a principle Brown learned from an early age. As the son of longtime Baltimore Orioles' public relations officer Robert Brown, "Scotty" as he prefers to be called, worked odd jobs around the old Memorial Stadium that ranged from sitting on top of boxes to protect the goods on giveaway days to more prestigious positions in the press box.
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"The best job I had was when I was in high school I got to record the balls and strikes on the scoreboard," Brown recalled. "I had to pay close attention to the game, which wasn't a problem for me, and I got to sit in the only climate-controlled room in the press box. I thought I had died and gone to heaven."
Now Brown has been in the game long enough to realize there are multiple floors on the elevator to baseball heaven. He considers his new position with the Class A Pelicans to be his highest step yet despite a step back in qualifications from Class AA Binghamton (N.Y.) and his youthful days around the big leagues.
"I have such great memories from 1979 when the Orioles went to the World Series and then in 1983 when they came back and won it," Brown recalled. "I never imagined then that I would go the minor-league route, but I get the same kind of thrills now as I did when I was a kid."
Brown broke out into his own career in baseball in 1988 with the New York Mets' Florida State League team in St. Lucie, Fla., filling a variety of roles for the Mets organization through the years. He most recently served as the GM of the Binghamton Mets before deciding to come to Myrtle Beach.
"My family and I have been here on vacation three times and we already loved the area," Brown said. "I had seen what a great ballpark you have here but only from the outside and I had great respect for [owner Chuck Greenberg and his group], so when they offered me the job and my wife and kids approved, I jumped at it. It's really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
Now that Brown has seen the inside of BB&T Coastal Field, he's barely had time to unpack his bags before getting ready for Thursday's opener. His wife, Rebecca, and four daughters remain in New York until he has had time to get the ball rolling at work and at home.
The absence has allowed him to focus on his new job and making sure he builds as many happy memories with the Pelicans as he did as a child in the big leagues.
"I do have a lot of fond memories in baseball, but some of the best have nothing to do with the game itself," Brown said. "Some nights you have a great crowd and a great game, then the stands empty out, the lights go off and you're walking out of the ballpark thinking, 'Man, what a night.' For me, that's what really makes all the hard work worth it."
Hopefully, for both Brown and local baseball fans, there will be many more nights like that ahead.