Hello Thunder fans, my name is Earl. After working in government for nearly 27 years, I am now a newly retired employee of the State of New Jersey in my first year as a member of the Trenton Thunder game staff. I have gone from working as a full-time government professional to working in a part-time, entry level position at a Minor League Baseball stadium. During the season, I will be sharing some of my observations from the perspective of a first year usher/ticket taker working for the Thunder organization.
June 2, 2011
My love of baseball started in the late 1960’s, cultivated by my Uncle Gene, who also happened to be a cousin of comedian Lou Costello (famous for his performance of the baseball classic “Who’s on First”). Uncle Gene was a Yankee season ticket holder in those days and he would take me to the Bronx to see the Yankees play. During those years I had the opportunity to get my first glance of the great Mickey Mantle; of course he was quite hobbled by then and playing first base, but a great thrill nevertheless. I also watched for the first time, a young shortstop turned outfielder named Bobby Murcer, who I idolized during my youth. But my biggest thrill during that period was attending each year’s Yankees Old Timer’s Game. I can still remember Mrs. Babe Ruth and Mrs. Lou Gehrig being announced to the crowd and an aging Joe DiMaggio rounding first base after hitting a single in 1968.
It’s memories like these that make me proud to work for an organization such as the Trenton Thunder, which also happens to be located in the city that I grew up in!
Working my first few games with the Thunder, has been very interesting. My first observation when I arrived was how happy everyone on the staff seemed. Most people that I spoke to were ecstatic to have the opportunity to work in professional baseball, it was a dream come true. I also noticed how interestingly unique some of the fans were. I had the chance to meet a proud 96 year old fan, who makes an effort to attend each game, even with her bad knees. I met another woman who attends each game with her husband; she sports a yellow baseball cap with the signatures of all the Thunder players, which she tells me is updated every year. As the season goes on I hope to be able to share more fan profiles.
I’ve also had the opportunity to chat briefly with some of the players. One in particular that I found interesting was Craig Heyer, who I met while I was operating the elevators one cold April evening. Craig shared with me what it was like growing up and playing ball in warm, dry Arizona and how he was trying to make the adjustment to playing in the chillier northeast.
During my first week I also had the pleasure of being introduced to some professional baseball scouts, which included, Gene “Stick” Michael (who I watched as a kid play for the Yankees), former Detroit Tiger, infielder Chris Pittaro and former Brewers pitcher Pete Vuckovich. What a thrill to meet these former Major Leaguers.
The first three home stands have provided some interesting promotional events. The first of these events that I experienced was the Bark at the Park promotion, where fans could bring their dogs to the park for free. I was very surprised at how well behaved the dogs were. It was a real assortment of sizes, shapes and breeds. I met one dog owner who had a female Bassett Hound, who was wearing his son’s outgrown Thunder jersey; it was a perfect fit for the dog!
Some events have the staff dressing up to help promote the occasion. One such event was “Suit Up” night, which was to promote networking among business leaders. I dressed in a suit (first time since leaving state government) along with some of the full-time staff; unfortunately, I was the only part-timer that did. I felt a little out of place dressed up and taking tickets, but it was to promote a good cause and being that this is my first year, I wanted to be a team player.
So far the majority of my time working for the Trenton Thunder has been ticket taking at the front gates. I noticed that most ushers and ticket takers have their designated spots. Being the new guy, I have to float around and fill in when those employees are not present.
I will continue making my first year observations of the fans and events surrounding Thunder Baseball. Hopefully, these observations can be made a little bit more from inside the stadium instead of out.