Courier Post Reports: Riversharks' staff works hard to ready Campbell's Field
“You got your sneakers on?” Adam Lorber asked a visitor to Campbell’s Field last week.
“What?” the visitor replied.
“You got your sneakers on?” repeated Lorber, GM of the minor-league Camden Riversharks. “We have to go take the tarp off the field.”
Moments later, Lorber led about 25 members of the Riversharks’ office staff and interns — men and women alike — onto the playing surface at Campbell’s, their home field. With the help of the groundskeeper, staffers removed the tarp that had shielded the infield from overnight rain.
“Who else is going to do it?” Lorber wondered.
So began a typical day for support personnel of the Riversharks as they prepared for a game.
In 13 seasons, millions of fans have attended Riversharks baseball games. But few realize what goes on behind the scenes each day. Here’s a look:
10 a.m.: Once the tarp has been removed, staff fills the conference room in the office area of Campbell’s Field for their daily game-day meeting.
Assignments are handed out for the day. Lorber runs a staff of 13 full-timers and a number of summer interns and, as the day progresses, everyone has plenty to do.
“There is no average day,” noted Kristin Segers of the marketing department.
Segers has numerous duties: Her department is responsible for everything from organizing the many theme nights to updating the website to running the pregame show — including who will throw out first pitches and who will sing the national anthem.
Segers’ day begins at 9 a.m. and ends sometime after 10 p.m. on game nights. But she doesn’t mind the hours.
“The goal is, as long as you love your job, the hours you work don’t affect you,” Segers remarked. “It’s fun here.”
Her thoughts are echoed by Assistant GM Lindsay Rosenberg, whose myriad duties include staffing the carousel ride and setting up the parking lot in time for game-night traffic.
“I mean, we work at a ballpark,” Rosenberg observed. “It’s not like we’re chained to a desk. You don’t feel like you’re stuck here for 12 hours.”
11 a.m.: Members of the ticket office gear up. The previous night’s game was a rainout, so staff work the phones, calling every known ticket-holder to remind them of a doubleheader starting at 5:30 p.m.
Chris Zabady, a box office coordinator, wants to make sure the club is as fan-friendly as possible.
“We don’t want people to show up at 7 o’clock and find it’s a doubleheader,” he said. “We don’t want people to get aggravated with us. So we do our due diligence.”
A lot of the Riversharks’ attendance comes through group sales, a department run by Mark Schieber. Over the years, he has built up a network of customers and he gets a lot of repeat business.
“For groups, it’s only $6 per ticket,” Schieber explained. “Once we get a group in here, we hope they go out and tell other groups about how easy our fundraising is, or how affordable a suite is compared to a Phillies game.”
Noon: After the tarp removal, groundskeeper Isaiah Lienau immediately begins mowing the huge field, a job that takes more than two hours. Soon he will water and manicure the infield. The players rely on Lienau to tailor the field to their needs.
“They have their own preferences, and it seems like each position is different,” he noted. “Some like the field wet. Some want less water. They don’t want the playing surface too soft or firm.
“So you just try to keep it all in mind as you go out there to do your job.”
1 p.m.: Hidden deep in a concourse office, Mike Jordan prepares the concession stands for the night. One of the things that makes the Riversharks popular with families is that concessions are generally more affordable than at a major league game.
Jordan is the manager for food, beverage and merchandise for Legend’s Hospitality, which has a contract to run the concession stands and gift shop at Campbell’s Field.
“On a busy night, we might serve 4,000 people,” Jordan said. “And that’s a lot of hot dogs.”
1:30 p.m.: The trainer and clubhouse man prepare for the arrival of players.
On a typical night, clubhouse man Ryan Bittle will leave the stadium around 2 a.m., after he has washed the towels and uniforms and set up the locker room for the next day’s game. When the players arrive, he’s the ultimate support.
“My job is just being there,” Bittle observed. “If the players or coaches need anything, just odds and ends, they come to me.”
Meanwhile, trainer Jason Kopec sets up his training room to deal with the daily aches and pains players bring to the park.
“In baseball, you see a lot of shoulder problems, tendinitis, strains, things of that nature. We’ve got some older guys here who get a lot of muscle aches, but that’s part of the game.”
2 p.m.: Coaches and managers report.
In the manager’s office, Ron Karkovice goes over scouting reports, investigates possible personnel moves and thinks about who he will put in the lineup. Players soon arrive.
With game time still a couple of hours off, teammates pass the time in different ways: Some go in for medical treatment. Some play cards. Some hit in the batting cage. And some simply watch television or converse among themselves. It is an important time to build team camaraderie.
“There is a lot of downtime before the game,” said former Cherokee High School star Ryan Kulik, a left-handed pitcher coming off the disabled list after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
“You can maybe make some phones calls, chat to your wife and family, things like that.”
Kulik describes how he prepares on game day.
“There’s a lot of little things I do. There’s nothing really outrageous, but everyone has a routine throughout the day.
“The days I start, I’m more superstitious than on any other day.”
3:15 p.m.: Kopec leads the players onto the field for stretching, while Lienau sets up the field for batting practice. The players chat among themselves. Someone has brought a football the players toss around. As a bright sun beats down on the field, the park remains quiet.
4:30 p.m.: Gates open for the early start and a few fans start taking their seats to watch batting practice. In about a half-hour, the pregame ceremonies begin. Most fans are familiar with the voice of public-address announcer Kevin Casey. He starts his routine of welcoming fans and setting the scene for game time.
Finally, a bat boy or bat girl is named to help out in the dugout. The national anthem is sung and the ceremonial first pitches are thrown. Fans start milling around the seating and concession areas.
5:35 p.m.: It’s Shark Attack time. The players take the field, and the game begins.
For the staff, there are only four or five more hours before they go home and await the start of a new day.