By Ben Strober
There are endless reasons that the Cape Cod Baseball League provides an experience like no other.
Whether it’s the top-tier talent showcased or the scenic views, or the delicious food, it all comes together to create an unforgettable fan experience.
Without the premiere experience from a game on The Cape, it wouldn’t be anything but just another summer league with great players.
While the future stars of baseball battle it out between the lines, what goes on outside the lines is only possible thanks to the league’s most under-appreciated; the gameday interns and staff.
The Cape Cod Baseball League is a nonprofit, so the constant fundraising keeps the league at its gold standard.
Money raised at YD home games contributes to payments necessary for essential needs, such as uniforms, bus travel, stadium upgrades, player-related fees and much more, according to team president Paul Izzo.
Yarmouth-Dennis prides itself on providing that sense of community to The Cape, and its accolades show for it. The Red Sox have won the Paul Galop Commissioner’s Cup three-straight years, an award designated to the team portraying the highest amount of integrity and professionalism on and off the field.
As a media intern here in Yarmouth-Dennis, I witness the gameday staff and interns work tirelessly to ensure the fans enjoy their experience. I decided to see for myself what this was like.
Director of Gameday Operations Elaine Lacey serves her ninth year on the Yarmouth-Dennis board this summer and has attended games for over 30 years.
Fans who frolic to Red Wilson Field in the summers see her every day. However, many don’t realize nothing would be possible without her efforts.
Lacey has 20 college students by her side this summer. Most of these interns aspire to work in sports in some facet.
The interns are responsible for everything around the stadium, whether it’s concessions, 50-50 raffles, selling merchandise, or even greeting fans as they enter.
The interns work in a set rotation and do something different every night.
“It’s helped me learn a lot about taking initiative,” 20-year-old Chris Macdonald said. “It helps us prepare for games in the sports world and what goes on behind the scenes.”
Macdonald studies at Merrimack College and said his experiences at Boston sporting events inspired him to apply to work in YD.
Lacey’s goal for the young volunteers is simple; prepare them for any job asked of them in the future.
“They get experience from the ground up,” Lacey said. “They learn what it takes to do gameday and create the fan experience.”
Lacey said the Red Sox’s game operations mimic what Major League ballparks offer.
“When they get to the point where they find a job, they can step right in and do what needs to be done,” Lacey said.
Lacey has watched many of her former interns blossom into valued workers in professional sports, including the NFL and MLB.
Mastering different roles is vital for the interns in completing their tasks. But most importantly, they learn lifelong skills, such as problem-solving, leadership and communication.
“I’ve learned how to deal with certain situations in certain times, and just working with people in general,” Macdonald said. “It’s been great working with new people every day.”
Here’s where I come into play. Concessions constantly have a line wrapping around the bleachers, so I decided to try it myself.
Quickly, I found out just how hectic it gets at the grill. Within minutes of assembling donut burgers, I was quickly running low on ingredients and had to call for help from the others.
Fortunately for me, the crew around me did a phenomenal job helping out wherever needed. It may be stressful often, but they ensure no customer goes unsatisfied.
Gary Werman runs the show over at the grill, and he’s nothing short of a special piece of YD’s experience. Werman is a jack-of-all-trades who constantly runs around to help anyone in need.
Werman said he hopes all his interns take away the deeper meaning of the job. The interns aren’t just making burgers or selling stuff; they’re learning to work in a corporate environment that requires adaptation and social skills.
Werman instantly showed me the basics of assembling donut burgers before I was off on my own.
It was only the fourth inning when we had sold out of donut burgers. Honestly, it felt super fast, and it was incredibly rewarding to serve the fans.
“We’ve sold over 8000,” Werman said. “McDonald’s should be looking in their rearview mirror.”
People who came for the coveted burgers greeted me with a smile on their faces, and it provided such a good feeling to me to see them enjoying the experience.
Early in my experience on The Cape, I didn’t truly understand how essential the gameday staff is. These future leaders of tomorrow take time out of their day to work for free.
Money is irrelevant in this situation because the experience and skills learned are ones that will pay dividends in finding a desired career path.
For the players and media interns like myself, we dreamed of coming to The Cape because of the prestigious reputation it built over the years. The truth is that prestige derives only from the contributors who make the experience what it is.
Next time you attend a game on The Cape, be sure to show appreciation to those who work so hard to ensure you enjoy yourself.