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Now that’s entertainment

Editor's note: This is the second in a periodic series of articles bringing you an inside look at the Red Sox and Fenway Park. For more, check out the rail on the right of this article or the “Fenway insider” portion of the Red Sox Nation Fan Zone section on our Red Sox index.

So you’re sitting at Fenway in the fifth inning. The game has settled in, you’ve had your beer and your hot dog and called your pals on your cell phone to tell them you’re at the game. And then you realize you’ve lost track of what’s happening on the field. For moments like this, there is Darren Gorden, the guy who’s paying attention so you don’t have to.

You check one of the seven scoreboards for the count, how many outs there are ... maybe even the score if you’re really not paying attention. Thank Darren. Up in the announcer’s booth (the three windows on the far right next to the press box, above the 406 club), on every pitch, hit, run, double play, sacrifice ... whatever ... Darren hits the designated button on a computer keyboard, and the scoreboards all over the park update the situation.

And he’s only one of the team of roughly two dozen full or part-time people that do what those in the stadium sports business call “in-game entertainment.” You know. All the stuff that isn’t the game itself. Everything from the pre-game ceremonial first pitch and singing of the National Anthem to the announcements and music and scoreboards and the big screen in center field with its replays or shots of fans or promos.

I doubt anyone’s ever timed it, but out of a three-and-a-half-hour baseball game, the ball is actually in motion maybe a total of, I don’t know, 10-15 minutes? Baseball has terrific moments of drama, interspersed with long periods of not much going on. So a modern trip to any ballpark, even an old-time classic like Fenway, comes with music and videos and lots of information and trivia questions and “Sweet Caroline” and, well, lots more than crackerjack and a scorecard. As Sox VP of communications Charles Steinberg says, “we’re making sure that coming to the game is better than watching it on TV.”

Next to Gordon up in the control booth sits Carl Beane, the stentorian-voiced announcer. And to Carl’s left stands ... or rather, paces nervously ... Dan Kischel, the Terry Francona of the team that puts on this off-the-field show. (Steinberg is the in-game entertainment’s Theo Epstein, the general manager of it all.) Dan oversees a crew that includes:

  • A DJ to run the music.

  • Seven people that edit the replays or videos or type in the graphics that go on the center-field screen.   Continued...

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    About the writer
    David Ropeik is a former reporter for WCVB-TV, Boston, and previously wrote a science column for the Boston Globe. He is Director of Risk Communication at the Harvard School of Public Health's Center for Risk Analysis. He is co-author of the book "RISK! A Practical Guide for Deciding What's Really Safe and What's Really Dangerous in the World Around You."
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