Steve Krah
Steve Krah
Baseball has been sports reporter Steve Krah's passion since childhood. In Season Tickets, there will be plenty of stories from the diamond, but that's not all. Look for stories about athletic happenings and personalties of all kinds.

Other Stories by Steve Krah
Reporter Steve Krah covers sports for the Elkhart Truth.

Evansville Otters GM provides peek into independent baseball

An interview with the GM of the Evansville Otters. The Elkhart County Miracle will play in the independent Northern League in 2014.

Posted on July 5, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on July 5, 2013 at 9:30 a.m.

Making the fan experience enjoyable is what keeps Evansville Otters general manager Joel Padfield at historic Bosse Field for 16-hour work days.

"An hour counter is not going to make it in this business," says Padfield, who is in his eighth season with the independent professional baseball team and second as GM. "As soon as it feels like a job, I'll find something else to sell."

And, make no doubt about it, Padfield is constantly selling his product - fun with a big helping of a baseball.

Padfield and his staff want to put smiles on the faces of their customers.

"The goal is to have every fan walk out of here satisfied," says Padfield. "We want each game to have an Opening Night feeling because someone might be here for the first time. If they have a good experience, chances are they will be back."

Elkhart is scheduled to begin play in the independent Northern League in 2014 whent he Elkhart County Miracle take the field.

Of course Evansville wants to field a winning Frontier League team, but Padfield is focused on the whole entertainment package.

"They will know if we've won or not, but when people leave the ballpark I don't want them to know the final score," says Padfield. "If they don't know the final score, then I've done my job."

Sometimes, it comes down to winning and weather. Everyone loves to follow a winner, so that helps attendance.

There is no way to control the temperatures like when Evansville had about 20 straight days of 100 degrees in 2012.

Padfield also makes sure to hire a gameday staff that is courteous to fans.

"It can be challenging to find good help," says Padfield.

Leaving the on-field selection and direction of talent to manager Andy McCauley, Padfield and company try to accomplish this with between-inning contests and promotions and lots of group outings and corporate sponsors.

"You've got to have corporate backing to break even or make a little bit of money," says Padfield. "Technically, we're a small business. But we have a big impact in the community."

Independent baseball teams do not play by the same rules as Major League Baseball-affiliated clubs. Beer sales end in the eighth - not the seventh - and there are no parent clubs to provide players. The idea is to give players an opportunity to sign with affiliated teams.

"It is challenging to get good talent to be moved up," says Padfield, who notes that Andrew Clark recently went from Evansville straight to Double-A with the New York Yankees. "We give kids a chance to showcase their talent. (Being signed by affiliated ball), that's what it's all about."

That also extends off the field. Padfield gives his front office interns experience in all aspects of running a team.

That experience comes with plenty of tradition.

Bosse Field, owned by the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation, opened in 1915, making it the third-oldest ballpark in operation in the country behind Fenway Park and Wrigley Field.


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