INDIANAPOLIS-- "The lights are on in this beautiful downtown ballpark, located on the corner of West and Maryland," Howard Kellman, long-time Indians broadcaster, assures the fans. His words mix with the music of the ballpark: the low hum of the many different conversations, the shrill cries of vendors, and the crack of the bat. Throughout the organized chaos, however, a unique entertainment form unfolds, one which fans return to summer after summer.
But baseball enthusiasts of all ages who step through the gates at Victory Field see only the polished, finished product. The work that goes on in the background, just behind the curtain, serves as the field's life force and those who perform these responsibilities, the caretakers of tradition.
On the second level of the ballpark, you will find a simple row of cubicles and offices. As the hallway stretches back, an office decorated in the colors of the Nittany Lions comes into view: this is the office of Senior Director of Business Operations, Brad Morris.
Morris sits at a desk behind piles of reports, reports which in turn help keep the park running. On a day- to-day basis, Morris will see all sides of the Indians' budget, from financial statements to the property insurance for the building and all equipment used within. It is then up to Morris to make sure all of the organization's ducks are in a row.
In addition, Morris maintains financial and attendance reporting for the International League and Major League Baseball.
"We pay a portion of our ticket revenue to Major League Baseball and that in turn helps offset the cost of them paying for the players' salaries," said Morris. "We also pay four cents for every fan above 200,000 that actually walks through the turnstile and complete an end of the year ticket report to Major League Baseball."
While Morris could just be seen as an accountant, his position evolves into so much more.
"Although there is accounting in every business, in baseball it's a lot different," said Morris. "Most companies aren't dealing with a parent organization that's not really part of the organization. There are just a lot of different things that we might buy during the year that a normal company wouldn't."
With a chuckle Morris continues, "I still get a kick out of the auditors saying, 'So you're depreciating a Rowdie suit, ok tell me what that is.' It's just not normal, I think, for most businesses."
On a game day, you will most likely find Morris on the concourse, as he is in charge of the ticket takers and all EMT staff. But for Morris, the joy in his position comes from the game itself.
"I've always played baseball," said Morris. "I played a few years in college and I've always loved the game, so just being around it is the best."
Just one level below Morris, a similar scene unfolds on the concourse: Tim Hughes, Senior Director of Facilities is hard at work to keep the ballpark pristine.
As Hughes describes it, he and the rest of his crew take care of "everything from the wall pads out." This includes, but is not limited to, checking the building for possible problems, overseeing heating and cooling, working with the Indians' catering service, Aramark, and continuing the upkeep of the preventative maintenance program.
But as with any job in sports, there is no such thing as a typical day for Hughes. Much of his game day responsibilities require reacting to situations and fixing problems as they come up.
"The fans see us but they don't know that we are the facility crew," said Hughes. "We aren't on the field like the grounds crew, so we are more behind-the-scenes."
Much as with Morris's work, that "behind-the-scenes" work that Hughes performs on a daily basis is one of the major reasons fans are able to enjoy the experience, which in turn makes it an enjoyable experience for Hughes.
"I enjoy coming in every day and knowing that we do a good job to keep everything going to keep Victory Field looking as good as it does, to the point where fans can't believe that it is 20 years old," said Hughes.
One of the most crucial aspects of facility management that Hughes is involved with which directly correlates to fans is the special projects around the park, including the new videoboard and sound system going in for next season.
"We're going to have quite a few new things here next year and fans are going to question if this is the same ballpark," said Hughes.
So whether it is from a business or facility operations perspective, the most vital jobs of the ballpark most of the time go unnoticed by the average fan. However, the end product certainly is not unnoticed by Morris or Hughes.
"I walk around the concourse all the time and I see the fans having fun and that puts a smile on my face to think that we were a part of that," said Hughes.
"It is a fun atmosphere, during game days," adds Morris. "You see 99% of the fans are having a good time."
Yes, the final product may be a baseball game where families and friends are able to relax and enjoy the experience. But the next time you walk through those gates, maybe you will catch a glimpse of all of the hard work and long hours that are put in by those "behind-the-scenes" and feel just a little bit closer to the heart of Victory Field.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.