- The Washington Times - Friday, May 24, 2002

He is the man who lets you know your son is wandering around lost on the concourse. He is the man who insists on reminding you that your ticket stub is good for one free game of bowling at the local alley, or that congratulations your car is the dirtiest one in the parking lot.
Oh, and he's also the guy who lets you know who is up to bat.
He is Mark Kreider, the public address announcer for the Frederick Keys, the single-A minor-league affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.
"There are not many jobs where you get to watch 70 baseball games and get paid to do it," says a beaming Mr. Kreider from his seat inside the press box at Harry Grove Stadium, overlooking the stands right behind home plate.
It is Wednesday night, and the Keys are squaring off against the Winston-Salem Warthogs, a Chicago White Sox affiliate. It's about 6 p.m., and Mr. Kreider, 34, is looking over a three-ring binder full of notes, including every public address announcement he must read during the game. To his right is a mass of electronic equipment, including a 6-foot-high stereo receiver, five-disc CD changer and high-powered computer with a Pentium 4 processor.
Mr. Kreider knows how to work all of this stuff. In about nine hours, he'll be getting out of bed to head to his full-time job as the morning producer for WASH-FM. It's a crazy work schedule that has him up before sunrise, taking naps in the middle of the day and getting no more than a few hours of sleep at a time. Given this, he is remarkably cheery.
"I'm in a unique situation, because I love both of my jobs," Mr. Kreider says. "No matter how tired I am, it's a breeze."
It wasn't always this way. Mr. Kreider graduated from the University of Maryland in 1990 with a degree in criminology, and went to work as a private investigator. But after three years, the stress of the job was too much. He went to trade school, got a license from the Federal Communications Commission and began working for WASH-FM in 1994. He joined the Keys last year as a part-time public relations assistant, filling in occasionally as the public-address announcer. He became the announcer full time this year.
On this night, the crowd is big and full of elementary-school-aged children. It's "Keys for Reading" Night, and the Keys are recognizing the students from Frederick County who participated in the team's program to promote reading.
Scores of children are led onto the field by Jeff Bertoni, the enthusiastic leader of the Keys' "Fun Patrol." Mr. Kreider waits patiently for the students to leave the field before diving right into some public address announcements, which range from a warning of the dangers of smokeless tobacco to a pitch for State Farm Insurance. Using a crisp, booming voice, he makes the announcements into a microphone attached to what he calls his "Han Solo Millennium Falcon headset."
After the national anthem, it's game time. Mr. Kreider introduces the Keys' starting pitcher, Beau Hale, one of the Orioles' top prospects. Mr. Kreider is familiar with Hale, and the entire Keys lineup. For opposing teams, Mr. Kreider often consults with that teams' media director or coaches to make sure he pronounces the players names correctly. Latin players often pose a pronunciation problem, but Mr. Kreider says the new breed of Asian players has presented the biggest challenge recently.
On the surface, Mr. Kreider's job may seem easy: Just read a few announcements, get the players' names correct and call it a night. But it's more complicated than that. In addition to announcing, he is responsible for all of the music played before the game and between innings and must be aware of the size, mood and general age of the crowd. And, while the game is in progress, he is handed note after note indicating someone's parent or child is missing or someone left their car lights on.
The music Mr. Kreider plays either comes from CDs or, more often, from a program called Click Effects that is installed on the computer. Small snippets of popular songs, along with special sound effects are loaded into the computer, and Mr. Kreider can activate them with a click of the mouse. Included are favorite songs of Keys players, to be played when that batter is up.
There is an eclectic mix of songs at Mr. Kreider's disposal. A CD featuring "The Best of Reggae" is in the same pile as the soundtrack to the movie "Casino" and Britney Spears' "Oops I Did It Again." Mr. Kreider's job at WASH-FM has helped him gather music; many CDs are "borrowed" from the radio station.
Once the game is under way, Mr. Kreider is stuck in his chair. He doesn't get up once, because the job doesn't allow for breaks. Because of this, he limits his drink intake during the game to two sodas, to avoid the need to use the bathroom.
Luckily, this game moves fast. The Keys take an early lead, and Hale gives up just two hits through the first seven innings.
"By moving the game along faster, we may get out of here earlier and I might get more sleep tonight," he says. "So far tonight, we've been lucky."
The game's pace makes Mr. Kreider's job easier, because the crowd hasn't become restless and in need of extra entertainment. And because the Keys are winning, there's no bottom half of the ninth inning.
By 9:30, the Keys have won 10-2, and Mr. Kreider can drive back to his home in Gaithersburg to get a few winks before the early alarm clock.

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