Pittsburgh Pirates seek 200 workers for McKechnie Field concessions

vmannix@bradenton.comJanuary 10, 2013 

BRADENTON

One was a retired policewoman.

Another, a former bartender.

Then there was the guy who probably tried to sell you a foul ball outside McKechnie Field.

"I grew up behind the ballpark," Keith Smith, 55, said proudly.

If all goes well, he'll be inside McKechnie along with Dave Gromko, Lisa Cammelleri and approximately 197 other folks working concessions come late February.

The first sign of spring used to be when pitchers

and catchers report.

Not for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It was Wednesday as a long line of eager job applicants trailed out the front door of Pirate City's cafeteria for the ballclub's job fair.

For a guy who's already got 10 spring trainings under his belt, Kris Koch was impressed by the turnout.

"This is good," said McKechnie's operations manager. "People are ready for baseball."

People like Jim Cunningham, who wore a shirt, tie and slacks to interview for a gig flipping burgers and scooping fries.

"It's not a job," the 57-year-old baseball fan said. "It's a treat."

McKechnie will have more concession stands after the current remodeling and expansion are completed in time for the Feb. 24 Grapefruit League opener with the Atlanta Braves.

The Pirates estimate they'll need 200 workers, twice what they had previous springs, and will hold another job fair Jan. 23.

"A lot of people have an idea of what the expectations are," Koch said. "We get moms and dads who worked concessions at high school games, but their kids are gone and they say, 'I know a little about this.'"

Pat Thomas does.

"I've worked youth football concessions, so I know the drill," the certified nursing assistant said, smiling.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist, either, but it doesn't hurt.

"One time we had a guy apply who was a retired NASA subcontractor," said concessions manager Terry Pajka. "Another guy was a sub-regional director for Homeland Security."

Lisa Cammelleri knows a thing or two about security.

Now 48, she was a cop for 25 years in Columbus, Ohio, and retired as a sergeant last September.

A lifelong baseball fan, Cammelleri has been coming here for 20 years and knows her way around McKechnie.

Working concessions would be welcome.

"I like to be around a lot of people and, even though I don't get to see the games, I love the baseball atmosphere," Cammelleri said. "I'm used to being around people who are angry, so I want to be around people who are happy and having a good time."

That resonated with Dave Gromko.

A retired pipefitter, he also bartended in upstate New York and knows the importance of keeping customers satisfied.

Especially at McKechnie Field.

"You've just got to keep pumping it out," the 67-year-old Gromko said. "Everybody's thirsty."

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix.

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