The Boston Red Sox are one of the world’s most successful professional sports franchises. Their sport is Major League Baseball and, over the last 10 seasons, the team has secured three World Series championships.
In 2014, the Red Sox franchise generated a whopping $370,000,000 in revenues.
In addition to the 146,000,000 households who viewed Boston Red Sox games on television during the first half of 2015, nearly 3,000,000 fans a year come to see the Red Sox play on their home field, the legendary Fenway Park.
The beloved Red Sox playing field opened its gates to fans in 1911 and has somehow maintained its old world charm despite millions of dollars spent on modernisations geared toward perfecting the fan experience.
A top priority for the Red Sox organisation is to keep the fans safe during their time spent in Fenway Park. Since the park is an open-air field, team officials need to keep a close eye on the changing weather conditions. Fenway Park itself is located near both a river and the ocean and weather patterns can rapidly change.
Unsung heroes: the Red Sox grounds crew
“Weather impacts my life every day,” said Dave Mellor, Red Sox Director of Grounds.
“Other than my wife, it’s my first interaction with the outside world when I wake up in the morning and it’s the last think I look at before I go to sleep.
“At work, it impacts how we staff, what jobs we do that day, and it even impacts whether a game is played or delayed.”
Mellor, who has worked with the Red Sox grounds crew since 1979 (and who now manages a full-time staff of three employees and a seasonal staff of 40 people), has always had a passion for baseball, but his path into Fenway Park has taken some unusual twists and turns.
“I played baseball growing up,” he said.
My dream was to make it to the major leagues. But after high school, I was hit by a car and suffered enough injuries that a professional baseball player career was no longer an option.”
As it turned out, that accident became a detour instead of a roadblock.
“I always thought, ‘find a career that you love.’ I realised that I loved baseball and that I enjoyed being outside. I put those two thoughts together and realised that someone somewhere has got to take care of a major league field.”
That thinking eventually led Mellor to a job within the Boston Red Sox organisation.
The grounds crew plays a critical role in making sure that weather conditions do not endanger fans, players, coaches or officials. Since the games are a major event for the fans who attend, the pressure is high to have the game played even if weather conditions are questionable.
In fact, fans invest heavily both financially and spiritually when they come to a game. The family outing includes the expense of driving to the game, the fee for parking, the ticket price, and also some money on the side for a Red Sox souvenir. Accuracy and precision of the weather forecast are critical in the decision whether a game is delayed or even cancelled.
Technology with a human face
“The uncertainty of the weather is a tough challenge for us to address on our own,” said Mellor. “We need to know when the rain will arrive, how long it will last, and how severe it will be.” Mellor and his crew rely on the guidance of Schneider Electric, which provides the team with both pinpoint weather forecasting and direct 24-hour a day live consultations with professional meteorologists.
“Schneider Electric has earned our trust and respect over the years by providing the minute-by-minute forecasts that enable us to make the right game-time decision,” he said.
The Schneider Electric WeatherSentry solution provides precision data about precipitation, wind, dew point, shade, heat and lighting – all factors that impact how the players and coaches approach the game.
“WeatherSentry is a management tool that helps us to be more organised in how we plan our day and guides us in terms of what we need to do to assure that the field is safe for the players and a safe experience for our fans,” said Mellor.
“It goes beyond just the game-time activities. The information that Schneider Electric provides us helps coaches to plan pitching and batting practice and to understand our ‘weather windows’ for activities.”
“The consistency in the weather data and consultations that we receive from Schneider Electric impacts our operation in a very positive way. They provide us with the weather apps on our phones and computers that allow us to closely monitor the situation.”
“Schneider Electric’s professional input helps team officials and umpire crews make the right game-time decision.
Thus the efficiency of our overall operations is enhanced. The Schneider Electric high-precision weather forecasts provide both our organisation and our fans with the luxury of fewer cancellations and postponed games.”
“After all, what true baseball fan can avoid the intense feeling of excitement when the umpire finally yells out ‘Play ball!’”