Adam Marco
Adam Marco
Adam Marco
WV Power baseball, 'a family-oriented business'

May 9, 2017

"Baseball is a very unusual business," Adam Marco told Putnam Rotarians today. With his college major in radio communications, he had wanted to be a sports announcer. When he came to work for the West Virginia Power in 2010, He was told he had to do group sales. In his own mind he heard the job description as, "You are the broadcaster, and -- you've got to do do group sales on the side."

"But," Marco admitted, "my sales numbers went up the less I was in the office.

"Nobody does just one thing," he said. "Over the weekend I hung an outdoor billboard. I was hanging from the outfield wall to get it in place, basically, I'm the idiot who would do that. We put the tarp [cover] on the field We take the tarp off the field and then we put it back on. Players don't touch the tarp. It's our responsibility to make sure the field is in playing shape.

"A few weeks ago on a Tuesday evening, we had rain. We weren't supposed to get it. It was a 10- or 20-percent chance. It turned out to be a 70-percent chance. We came in and we spent the next eight hours trying to make the field playable to get a Tuesday night game in for 1,700 people to come watch, and for players to play.

"To me," Marco said, :I want to see a good show. But if we get a crowd of 6,000 people, we're probably going to lose by ten to one. You never quite get that big crowd when you get the big score."

Minor league teams are usually affiliated with a major league team. "Our relationship with the Pittsburgh Pirates started back in 2009." he said.

"The Pirates are responsible for the players," he explained. "We have a player development contract with Pittsburgh. They pay the players. We are their caretakers.

"We own the stadium. We own the name. We own the uniforms. The players come in. They represent us and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"With that, we have zero control on what happens on the field. So when our team goes one and six to start the season in our home stadium. and I'm banging my head on the desk wondering why we can't win at home, there's nothing we can do about it.

Gilpin / Marco / Lannom
WV Power announcer Adam Marco (center) is welcomed to Putnam Rotary by Rotarians Dave Gilpin and Andrea Lannom.

Hodges / Davis

Jarrod Hodges was welcomed to Putnam Rotary today by Kelli Davis. Jarrod and Kelli are with Farmers Bank & Savings, a newcomer to Teays Valley.

"We had a six-nothing lead on Saturday in the first inning. And we lost nine to eight. It's a developmental league. It's all about these guys getting to the next level.

"Our hitting coach told me last year that our game doesn't matter. Altoona's doesn't matter, the Double-A team. The only game that matters on a nightly basis is what happens in Pittsburgh. That's their mind set.

"Last night we lost six to three. We left the bases loaded five times. And after the game the manager had them in there for a private meeting for 35 minutes. The manager wanted to talk to them about each and every thing that happened in that game. It's a learning experience for them all the way through minor league baseball.

"But that's where the fun part of minor league baseball comes in, because we want to get fans to the game. So we do our best to make sure that people have a good time when they come to the stadium. We do our specials. We do our one dollar tickets; make sure we have our mascot around the stadium.

A few years ago we got rid of our five mascots because no one knew who they were, what they were, and we got down to one.

"We had Chuck, the Power mascot. People don't know what he is still to this day. He's big and yellow -- bird? dog? Something of the sort.

"But kids actually want to get a picture with him. They want to hug Chuck the Mascot.

"We do our Kids Sunday Fun-Days where members of the kids clubs can get in for free, play catch in the outfield and run the bases.

"If they're having a good time, they'll bug their parents to come back.

"Next Tuesday at this time we play a 10:35 game for school kids to come in."

The children got free and reduced lunches, he said. "Whatever percentage the school had, we offered that number of tickets for the students to make sure they had an opportunity to come to the games.

"Next month, we're working on a Wrestling Night, and a 'Celebrate West Virginia Day' -- which is something we've done each and every year.

"In the summer, we have our Kids Clinic."

Baseball is an entertainment industry. "Our baseball team comes in three days before the season starts, and they leave the day after the season ends. These are players from all across the country, all across the world.

"We have had Gift Ngoepe, the first South African to reach major league.

"We have had Dovydas Neverauskas ---- from Lithuania. The third time I asked him how to pronounce his name, he said, 'You're pronouncing it correctly; you're just saying it wrong.'

"We've had our ups and downs with players in the last ten years. We have legends that have come through Charleston. We have Hall-of-Famers. And I love to talk about the guys that might be one of those future names.

"We have Ryan Braun from the [Milwaukee] Brewers era.

"Bruce Kison played for the Charlies back in the '70s. He went on to win two World Series with the Pittsburgh Pirates. We're adding him to the wall as well as the broadcaster Lanny Frattare who was with the Pittsburgh Pirates as their main announcer for 33 years. He got his start with the Charlies back in 1974-75."

Back to the Statesmen in 1910, the West Virginia Power has evolved through several name changes and sponsorships. The Charleston Charlies became the Wheelers in 1982, the Alley Cats in 1995, and the Power in 2007.

"This year we are doing a Wall-of-Fame induction. I have Starling Marte nominated.

"If you are not a baseball fan, Starling was suspended for 80 games . . . about three weeks after I nominated him for the Wall-of-Fame.

"From the minute that was announced to the time they pulled his name out of voting, he picked up 495 votes -- in a matter of three hours.

"This year," Marcos announced, "they're inducting Rowdy Alley to the Wall-of-Fame: This is the group of fans onver on the third base concourse, right above the visitors' dugout. When the managers or pitching coaches walk out to the mound, the Rowdies always razz them -- try to throw him off cadence as he is walking. 'Left, right, left, right, left, left, left.' Rowdy Alley is getting inducted."

Since the move from Watt Powell Park in Kanawha City to the Appalachian Power Stadium in Charleston's East End in 2005, the Power organization has made major upgrades in its facilities. A new surface was installed three years ago.

This year a $500,000 video board has been installed, three times the size of the previous board.

"We added $200,000 of production equipment," Marco said, "with brand-new cameras.

"This is not something from an investment standpoint that we're going to see a return on anytime soon. This is more for the fan interaction, that you can come out to the stadium and you can see your family on the video board.

"All of this is about getting people to come to the ballpark to appreciate that Charleston has one of the best facilities in minor league baseball.

"It's easy to say that, because I work there. But I also get a chance to travel around and see some of the other operations.

"We have an uphill battle like every business out there, and it's always about finding new and creative ways to get our message out and bring people in.

"We pull a sizeable part of our fan base from Putnam County," he added.

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