The Lancaster Barnstormers played their first season in 2005. Flash forward all the way to the 2016 season, the same control room, all the same equipment, and the same video board, were still being used. At the beginning of the off season before 2017, we were told that this was finally the year, we were getting a new control room, two video boards, and two mezzanine boards.
The offseason started with the hiring of a new video board director. Things didn’t exactly work out, and by March of 2017, we did not have a director or any new equipment, yet. We made a hiring decision and by April 27th, the day before opening night, we had a video board director and a brand new control room complete with the largest minor league video board I had ever seen. The only problem, it hadn’t been turned on yet. After leaving the ballpark at 4am the morning of opening night to try and catch a little sleep, we had crammed months of work into just a few weeks.
“The night before opening day, it still had not been turned on.”
My partner, Ryan, went to school for this, but had never run a show with equipment like this before. This would be the start of my fifth year with the Barnstormers, but like Ryan, I had never really used equipment like this, or been in charge before. When we got back to the stadium at 7am that morning, we were unsure of how the night would go. It was rough, but we got through it. Every game since then has been better than the night before. We have a long way to go, and to all of our fans out there, we ask again and again for your patience and understanding. Not only are we running the board for the first time, we are creating and uploading 99% of all graphics, videos and other content that goes onto the screen.
We are dedicating our life to this craft, we know when we mess up, trust me. We understand it is easy to get frustrated with us when the away pitcher hasn’t changed two outs into the next inning. If we were at a game, we would be frustrated as well. What you may not understand is that when that pitchers name doesn’t change right away, it’s not because we are in the press box stuffing our face with chicken tenders and French fries, it’s because we had a last second graphic request from upper management, and at this time, we are scrambling to get it designed, uploaded, imported and up on the screen all before the next half inning.
“We are dedicating our life to this craft.”
I was in the stands the other day getting ready to run an on-field promotion when I heard a fan say these exact words. “Boo, they have a million dollar scoreboard with a fifty cent operator.” To that fan, and to all the fans who have made comments at our expense this season, I would just like to say, we apologize. We are sorry for any mistake we have made this season, but I assure you, it is not because we are lazy or don’t know what we are doing. We were put in an incredibly unfavorable situation this year, and are doing the best we can with the little time that we were given.
The same fan that complains about the scoreboard being wrong is usually the one complaining that on-field promotions take away from the purity of the game, and if that is truly the case, then they shouldn’t care to look at the brand new scoreboard either. Back in the day, you had to look at your program to see a pitchers current ERA, and even then, it was probably a few games behind.
We chose this profession. We love this profession. Everything we do is judged with a microscope, and we get that. But the next time you notice that a new inning has started and the old pitcher is still listed on the screen for an out or two, think about sitting at your desk during the day with a screaming fan in your ear yelling at every typo. Then multiply that by 5,000.