A behind-the-scene’s look at the OKC Dodgers’ daily operations.
Despite heavy rain and thunderstorms, the Oklahoma City Dodgers completed their homestand thanks to the diligent work of their behind-the-scenes staff in coordinating a Thursday afternoon doubleheader.
However, if it weren’t for their efficiency in various departments, these turnarounds would not be possible. No matter the title, whether it be bat boy or Vice President of Operations, every employee plays a crucial part in creating a safe and enjoyable experience for fans and players.
“We just want to make sure that we’re providing a safe environment for both teams is the first and foremost,” said Mitch Stubenhofer, the team’s Vice President of Operations.
“After that, obviously we’re still a business, so we want to make sure that we still are protecting our opportunities to generate revenue. So, days like yesterday and things like that, it’s very unfortunate that we have to sit here and can’t play a game, but we have to weigh the odds of what’s best for the team, and what’s best for our business,” Stubenhofer added.
“From our perspective, we have to consider [player] input and what makes best sense for the team but also, depending on the night, we have thousands of tickets out and thousands of fans who are expecting to come to the game,” said Ben Beecken, the team’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications.
When games are postponed, Beecken and the marketing team are in charge of facilitating opportunities for fans to exchange their tickets for a game later in the season.
Jesse Jones, a parent and coach of three youth baseball teams, attended Thursday’s doubleheader but felt the stress of rescheduling his team’s trip.
“It was hectic to try to continue with the changes, the postponement, and everything,” Jones said. “Some of us got little kids, so 14 innings will be a lot for them,” he added.
For fans to even have the opportunity to see two games, managers have to work to ensure the availability of their employees for these last-minute changes.
“The majority of our part-time staff have another job, whether it be teachers or other folks that work in our community, so getting here at 3:30 in the afternoon is a challenge,” Stubenhofer said.
The field crew, led by head groundskeeper Jeff Jackson, are some of the first to clock-in on game days to assess the damage the weather has done to the field and what steps they need to take to ensure the game is playable before the first pitch.
“Even though we pulled the tarp off, there was a decent amount of mist and drizzle throughout the morning hours, so that’s our biggest concern. We don’t want to let that get too wet with the mist,” Jackson said. “There’s a really fine line because you don’t want it to be unplayable for the game,” he added.
“All in all, it’s all about player safety and spectator safety, the safety of everyone here that comes out to the ballpark. That’s our biggest issue and challenge that we’ll face,” Jackson concluded.