A little before 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning, an Omaha Storm Chasers fan by the name of Joshua Gear drove to the team's stadium. Upon arriving, he was greeted by a group of front office staffers and given two free Opening Night tickets.
This nocturnal liaison was one of many anomalous moments that took place at Werner Park this week as the Storm Chasers staged their first-ever "Four Day Frenzy." From 8 a.m. Monday through 8 p.m. Thursday, the front office staff of the Kansas City Royals' Triple-A affiliate combined to work 84 straight hours. Naturally, this specific length of time was an homage to outfielder Jose Martinez and his .384 average in 2015 (a modern-day Pacific Coast League record).
The Four Day Frenzy was nothing if not frenetic, as activities included (but were not limited to) trivia and bingo nights, a youth baseball skills competition, a job fair, Twitter giveaways, Periscope chats, philanthropic activity and team store discounts. The Storm Chasers also staged offseason versions of their weekly promos (Tallboy Tuesday, Wiener Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday), and these evening events were followed by groups of employees working overnight shifts at the ballpark.
Throughout the week, a variety of Storm Chasers staffers have documented their Four Day Frenzy experience via journal entries running on Ben's Biz Blog. For a more general overview of the event and how it came to be, I spoke with Storm Chasers president and general manager Martie Cordaro.
"It was a marketing meeting, where we were just talking about 'How do we create some excitement early on, in conjunction with pitchers and catchers reporting [for Spring Training]?'" Cordaro said over the phone during the final day of the Frenzy. "We had traditionally done the 'Stormfront Frenzy,' where we deeply discount a bunch of leftover merchandise items. But the last couple of years were a little stale, the numbers weren't as strong, so we started brainstorming on that. We just said, 'Let's stay open.' That turned into staying open for 84 hours, when we had the idea to tie it to Jose Martinez. It just kept going."
In much the same way that Spring Training games prepare players for the regular season, the Four Day Frenzy served as what Cordaro called an "exhibition homestand" for the StormChasers' staff.
"To have these promotions, like 25-cent hot dog night and Tallboy Tuesday, in February is pretty neat," he said. "And tonight we'll be having the Spring Training version of Thirsty Thursday. All of this builds great camaraderie among [front office] people who may not have been here, who are new. This gives them the opportunity to go through the experience of working during a homestand."
Cordaro worked 15-hour days throughout the duration of the Frenzy, but the necessity of being present during normal operating hours kept him from working one of the overnight shifts. While stuffing tickets into envelopes isn't the most invigorating of tasks, it certainly seemed to build the camaraderie to which Cordaro referred. As detailed in various Ben's Biz Blog journal entries, the teams of night shift workers produced a pair of Sportscenter-inspired "This is SC" commercials, debated about music and movies and, as previously mentioned, gave away a pair of Opening Night tickets to a seemingly sleep-deprived Twitter follower.
But between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., the primary task was assembling season-ticket holder packages. According to Cordaro, stuffing all of the full-season, half-season and mini-plan ticket packages into envelopes usually takes several weeks. Thanks to the overnight shifts, it was accomplished in the span of three nights.
"I wish I could say stuffing tickets was a very easy, pleasant experience, but the dreaded (and painful) paper cuts began to (literally) cut into my work," Storm Chasers media relations manager Andrew Green write in his journal entry. "I'm what you would call a 'gamer,' however, and this is the Four Day Frenzy. There was absolutely NO WAY I was going to let these paper cuts keep me from accomplishing my task…We pressed on and finally reached the epic moment that was the final mini-plan package. As I sealed my last envelope I raised my arms to the sky and even let out a 'WOO!'"
Not everything went exactly as planned over the four days, however. If Cordaro had had his way, he would have spent the entirety of Wednesday getting the attention of motorists on a nearby stretch of Interstate 80.
"It was 'Community Day,' and I was fortunate enough to be the centerpiece of all those efforts. I was supposed to be on top of a billboard, raising a certain amount of donated coats or canned goods," Cordaro said. "But our fantastic insurance partner said that would not be possible."
He continued, "Community Day was still very rewarding. We went to the Open Door Mission, a large kitchen for women and children with a separate area for men as well. And we also went to Ronald McDonald House, which is so important here and throughout the country."
If Cordaro has his druthers, Four Day Frenzy will "absolutely, 100%" return in 2017 and beyond.
"But you'll have to ask the rest of the staff," he added. "I don't know if, after this, they'll all want to buy in."