Volunteers make it happen at NAFA World Series

Written by Bob on August 14th, 2017

Andrew Breitzke and Mary Beth Lathrop are the NAFA Stats Team’s Terrific Tabulators, who analaize all the score sheets, figure out the hits, runs, RBI, and pitcher’s stats and then enter the data on the NAFA website. They are two of the busiest NAFA staff at the 2017 NAFA World Series in Fargo, N.D. Mary Beth is a seven-year veteran of statistical analysis, while Andrew is in his third season with NAFA. Photo By BOB OTTO / Aug. 11, 2017

FARGO – You’ll find them everywhere. They score games. They tabulate and enter game stats in the computer. They serve as courtesy drivers. They hand out programs, sell tickets, answer fan’s questions.

We call these people who generously give of their free time volunteers.

Like busy ants, they scurry about doing their best to make sure players and fans alike have an enjoyable experience at Northside Softball Complex during the NAFA World Tournament.

Mary Beth Lathrop from Wisconsin is one such volunteer. She along with Andrew Breitzke are as she says, “the NAFA Stat Team.”

Mary Beth is married to Loren Lathrop, a NAFA Vice President (whom you also see scurrying around the ball park). Mary Beth has served NAFA on the stat team for seven years. Andrew is starting his third season.

You’ll find them in the media room, eyes focused on score sheets, figuring the game’s stats. When finished, it’s time to log them into the computer.

They don’t get many breaks; they aren’t able to watch a lot of ball games.

What is appealing about being part of the NAFA Stat Team?

“I used to play softball and I like the specificity of working with numbers and statistics,” said Mary Beth.

Andrew’s a numbers person too. Since joining NAFA, he says the fastpitch game has grown on him, and he’s become a fan.

Between games, there’s a beehive of activity on each of the five ball diamonds used for the World Series.

The Fargo Parks Dept. has 14 hard working grounds keepers who groom the ball diamonds to a smooth and even finish so infielders don’t get hit with those troublesome tricky hops, and the pitcher’s don’t complain about the landing spots. So far no complaints. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2017 NAFA World Series.

While one person grades the field with a garden tractor, another rakes and tamps around the bases. Once the field is level and smooth, a couple linesmen chalk the the batter’s box and base lines.

The work is performed by professionals who take pride in their work.

“This is 100-percent how tournaments should be ran,” said Frank Hendrix III, manager of Desperado Sports Bar of Missoula, Mont.” How many different (pitchers) hops and jumps did we see and not one soft hole. Every batter’s box like new. Fargo parks are the gold standard.”

While all the field prep is going on, the pitching circle is being manicured like it’s getting the red carpet treatment for the Oscar’s.

Pitchers are the fussiest players on the field, so the grounds crew works diligently and methodically to bring the hallowed circle to ‘uncomplaining acceptance’ as much as humanly possible.

“We want to make sure the fields are nice and ready for the games,” said Dave Suda, Fargo sports turf supervisor. “No complaints means we’ve done a good job.”

I haven’t heard a pitcher squawk yet.

It’s a bit of a walk from the parking lot to the ball diamonds – about 200 yards or so.

MURY MORGAN, right, along with his wife SHARON are volunteering at the 2017 NAFA World Series. Among other duties, Mury hauls fans back and forth between the parking lot and ball fields at Northside Softball Complex. Riding with Mury is NAFA Vice President and tournament committee member, Jon Kegel. Photo By BOB OTTO

It’s no problem though because courtesy cart drivers hustle back and forth giving fans and players a lift if they want it. Mury Morgan is one of the drivers. He’s friendly and outgoing and quick to offer a ride.

And while Mury’s serving as a taxi driver, so to speak, his wife Sharon is at the front gate selling tickets, handing out programs and answering questions.

How valuable are the World Series volunteers?

Without them this tournament would not happen.

Leave a Comment