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August 19, 2017

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For love of the team: Meet some fans and workers who are passionate about the Las Vegas 51s

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L.E. Baskow

Richard Kindt is a 35-year season ticket holder and attends many Las Vegas 51s games like here at their home opener versus the Fresno Grizzlies at Cashman Field on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

Las Vegas 51s Staff

Deejay Jake Wagner handles the walk-up music for players and more during the Las Vegas 51s games like here at their home opener versus the Fresno Grizzlies at Cashman Field on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. Launch slideshow »

Promotional pros

All Thursday games are Budweiser Dollar Beer Nights, and games played on Mondays are Smith’s Value Menu Monday, with items such as hot dogs for $1. Other notable promotions this season include:

• May 27: 1991 Las Vegas Stars Throwback Jersey Night

• June 24: Ugly Sweater Jersey Night

• July 4: Fireworks Extravaganza

• Aug. 19: Kris Bryant Bobblehead Night

• Aug. 26: Las Vegas 51s Duffle Bag Night

You laugh at the antics in between innings at a Las Vegas 51s baseball game, loudly singing when a familiar song is played over the loud speakers or marveling at a certain prospect destined for greater glory.

Many visit Cashman Field once or twice a season. Some go more frequently. Along the way, you are greeted by workers and fans who are diehard supporters of the team. It’s their passion.

Here are some of their stories.

Barbara and Richard Kindt

Super fans

They walked into the spare bedroom in their northwest Las Vegas house and realized it was time to part with some of their Las Vegas 51s collectibles. There simply wasn’t enough space in the room dedicated for memorabilia from their favorite team.

Barbara and Richard Kindt have been season ticket holders at Cashman Field since the Las Vegas franchise launched 35 years ago, bringing home jerseys, hats, towels and whatever else offered the past three and a half decades. They also have items from the defunct Las Vegas Thunder hockey club.

The Kindts rarely miss a game — only a handful over the years, even on those 100-plus-degree Sundays — and work graveyard in the casino industry so their schedule doesn’t conflict with the first pitch. They also travel with the team on the road multiple times each year, visiting Pacific Coast League cities from Honolulu (remember the Hawaii Islanders?) to Colorado Springs, Colo.

It’s minutes before the game starts at Cashman Field and 51s President Don Logan walks over to visit the Kindts at their front-row seat in front of the third-base dugout. Chuck Johnson, the general manager, already has greeted them. He took some of their memorabilia off their hands in the offseason.

“Donnie is the man,” Richard Kindt says. “That’s family. People like Don Logan and Chuck, they are family. They are like me. They love the game.”

Richard appreciates the effort of minor leaguers because he was one himself in the 1950s. And no matter where the 51s play — they’ll eventually get a new stadium in Summerlin — the Kindts won’t be far behind.

“That’s a dumb question,” he jokes. “Of course I am going to Summerlin. If they go tomorrow, I will be there tomorrow too.”

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Gary Arlitz is the game-day promotion coordinator during the Las Vegas 51s games like here at their home opener versus the Fresno Grizzlies at Cashman Field on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

Gary Arlitz

Director of game entertainment

One of the team’s players races into the dugout between innings and gets ready to hit. The other team starts to gather its gloves to take the field.

But first, it is Gary Arlitz’s turn to entertain you. And you never know what Arlitz, the 51s’ director of game entertainment, and his crew have planned in between innings at Cashman Field.

The dizzy bat race, where competitors spin around a bat 10 times and then race each other down the foul line while trying to gather their senses, is always a hit. So is the in-game trivia question he creates, which more times than not is too challenging, right? Arlitz also manages Cosmo, making sure the lovable alien-themed mascot is up to no good.

Arlitz’s strategy is simple: “Make sure everyone is smiling and having a good time,” he says.

Arlitz moved to Las Vegas in 2005 and immediately went to the minor league franchise looking to help. He previously lived in Reno and had experience in all facets of game-day operations with its independent league team, everything from manicuring the field with the grounds crew to announcing the lineups.

He started as an usher and parking attendant at Cashman Field — two jobs he was equally passionate about because it allowed him to be at the ballpark.

“I told them I would do whatever they needed me to do,” said Arlitz, who works for the 51s part-time after teaching and coaching basketball at Centennial High School.

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Adam Alberico is the camera director and Charlie Redden (back) the video game operator during the Las Vegas 51s games like here at their home opener versus the Fresno Grizzlies at Cashman Field on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

Adam Alberico, Charlie Redden and Reggie Edwards

Video and display producers

Adam Alberico, Charlie Redden and Reggie Edwards arrive at the ballpark three hours before the first pitch to start preparing for the game. You probably notice their work the most.

Redden manages the text and graphics on the video board beyond the left-field wall, punching in that day’s lineups, groups in attendance and fans’ birthdays. Alberico is the camera director and loads all the video. Edwards edits highlights.

“Everyone wants their name in lights,” Alberico says.

Alberico, an emergency room technician by day, approached the 51s three years ago about volunteering to help in their video department. The part-time job does pay, but he says he would have done it for free.

“We do this for the love of the game,” Alberico says.

They attentively follow the game from a small booth in the press box, knowing a call to the bullpen means quickly loading information on a new player entering the game. The rest is scripted — a trivia question after a certain inning or listing the groups in attendance, for instance.

“Mess-ups happen. Someone will punch the wrong button,” Alberico says. “I always tell the crew, ‘This isn’t brain surgery. It’s not the end of the world. It’s baseball.’ ”

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Deejay Jake Wagner handles the walk-up music for players and more during the Las Vegas 51s games like here at their home opener versus the Fresno Grizzlies at Cashman Field on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

Jake Wagner

Music coordinator

51s reliever Paul Sewald is called into the game in the middle of an inning. That’s when fans at Cashman Field hear music many aren’t familiar with: the sweet, instrumental sounds of Kenny G’s “Careless Whisper.”

It’s Sewald’s choice. Each player has a song or two on file with Jake Wagner, the 51s’ music man, who plays the 10-15-second clip when the players walk to home plate to bat or enter the game to pitch.

The songs touch a variety of genres — hip-hop, trap, classic rock and Latin. And when a player is in a slump, he gives Wagner a new song to possibly change the prospect’s fortunes.

“Every now and then, there’s one (song) I have to look p,” says the 28-year-old Wagner, a lifelong baseball and music junkie.

Wagner works in radio at KUNV and KNPR. His brother, Tyler, is in Triple-A with the Texas Rangers organization.

“That’s my life. I always wanted to be doing music and sports,” Jake Wagner says.

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