2017-05-18 / Front Page

Up to bat

Surge manager: When you think of baseball, think The Ballpark
By Grant McPherson
Staff Writer


The view from home plate at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach. The Surge baseball team will play their third season with the Empire Professional League starting June 23. New General Manger Sean Getchell is excited for the opportunity and ready to get to work. For Operations Manager Guy Fontaine, The Ballpark represents history comng alive. (Grant McPherson photo) The view from home plate at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach. The Surge baseball team will play their third season with the Empire Professional League starting June 23. New General Manger Sean Getchell is excited for the opportunity and ready to get to work. For Operations Manager Guy Fontaine, The Ballpark represents history comng alive. (Grant McPherson photo) OLD ORCHARD BEACH – South Portland resident and recent University of Southern Maine graduate Sean Getchell, 21, is the new general manager for the Surge baseball team based at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach.

The team is part of the independent Empire Professional League, a platform for players who didn’t get drafted out of college to gain more experience and move up to a higher level. Opening day is Friday, June 23 and Getchell is well aware of the amount of work he has to do before then to prepare. He’s currently working on between inning promotions that allow children on the field where they’re awarded prizes, such as tickets to Funtown, which Getchell said were handed out last year.


Sean Getchell Sean Getchell “Bottom line of any business is you have to make money. But I really want to focus on growing the fan base. If the community is involved with you, and likes you and believes in you as an organization they’re going to come to the games,” Getchell said.

Getchell said last year’s Rec Day was a success and saw about 800 children from camps in Saco, Biddeford and Old Orchard Beach. Ticket prices were discounted and the between inning games featured large camp groups from different towns facing off. Getchell enjoyed the greater level of involvement and is scheduled to host Rec Day again this year at 11 a.m. Tuesday, July 18.

Regular season general admission ticket prices to The Ballpark start at $8.

Getchell’s own love for baseball began when he was young. His father, a member of the South Portland High School class of 1986, was scouted by the Yankees when he pitched for the school before an injury decreased the speed of his pitch from 97 mph to the mid 80s. Getchell’s father coached him while he was growing up and their family is big on baseball. His love for the sport hasn’t waned either.

“I watch baseball every night. I can watch any game. Whether it’s the Red Sox, it could be a Marlins/Pittsburgh game. I watch them but I analyze everything. I’ve always been into the stats that way. I’ve always loved baseball.”

Getchell understands the challenges of building a fan base for the Surge. There is competition with the Sea Dogs in Portland, which Getchell said consistently has 6,000 or 7,000 people in the stands. Attendance is an area Getchell knows needs improvement. In years past there have been anywhere from 50 to 100 people per game. The Surge Baseball website lists The Ballpark capacity at 6,000. Getchell is glad for the fans who come, but he knows he can do better and has interviews with local television stations on the horizon to help spread the word about The Ballpark.

Minor League Baseball, he said, has always been different from the majors in Getchell’s eyes – more romantic.

“You can buy a $15 ticket and sit in the front row.”

Fans have a unique opportunity at The Ballpark to experience the action much more closely and more affordably than they might be able to at larger stadiums. Getchell knows what baseball fans want because he’s been one his whole life. Ultimately he said his goal is to improve the product for the fans, keep them coming back and enjoying themselves.

“Think of us, as well, when you think of baseball in Maine.”

The Ballpark won’t only be for baseball fans this summer. Operations manger Guy Fontaine said that with improvements to the field, such as a new handicap ramp and sound system, The Ballpark is a gem anybody can enjoy. Every Sunday there will be a farmers market that will feature a live band and about 25 local vendors. Rumble in the Ballpark will be held in July, a wrestling tournament that hosts teams from local high schools. Last year’s New England Parkinson's Ride benefitted the Michael J. Fox Foundation and saw more than 800 riders and raised more than $700,000 with this year’s event looking to top 1,000 riders. Friends and family will also be able to sit in the stands of the park and watch the progress of riders live as they make their way to the finish.

Fontaine knows that people love professional baseball, but emphasized that The Ballpark is a less expensive alternative with parking available next to the entrance. He believes it’s the best field in the state and is looking forward to other possible events, including a blues festival and state barbecue championships. The Ballpark is for the people of Southern Maine said Fontaine. He’s seen a number of first time visitors walk into the park and exclaim, “I lived here my whole life I didn’t know this was here.”

For more information about upcoming events at The Ballpark visit http://www.oobballpark.com. For more information on the Surge and to purchase tickets visit http://oobsurgebaseball.com.

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