Originally created 09/01/02

Couple thirsts for quality time



It's Thirsty Thursday at the Lake Olmstead Stadium concession stands as the discount beer flows freely, and the sweat streams steadily down workers' faces.

There are baseball fans lined up 10-deep and it's 110 degrees behind the counter, but Bruce and Lynn Johnston don't mind the heat. Or the mayhem.

"We pour beer from start to finish," Bruce said. "It's non-stop."

They are a husband-and-wife team, a couple of longtime baseball fans who also love spending time together. Which is why the Johnstons said working for the Augusta GreenJackets this summer has been such a rewarding, albeit sweaty, experience.

"It's like a madhouse a lot of nights, and it gets very hot in here," Lynn said. "But we enjoy this so much. We met playing coed softball 10 years ago and we love the game, so we thought this was a fun thing we could do together."

While the concessions stands serve as a nice diversion for the Johnstons, they know they are part of a staff that plays an important role. In the minor leagues, revenues from food and beverage sales are as vital to a the success of a franchise as ticket sales and corporate sponsorships.

"We try to keep everyone happy and make sure the fans are taken care of," Lynn said. "You want to keep them coming back."

While GreenJackets assistant general manager Eric Allman oversees the concessions stands, the Johnstons help supervise a crew of several dozen workers and waitresses.

The concessions staff is made up of people of all ages from all walks of life. Most of the employees are college students or older high schoolers looking to earn extra spending money. For some, the job provides a much-needed second income.

"For us, it's something to do; we don't do it for the money, because if we needed the money, we wouldn't be here," Bruce said. "We do it to be around the game of baseball. We like to be around the fans and meet people and be around the general manager and the assistant general manager and see how around fans, around GM assistant GM see how a baseball team operates."

The only drawback for the Johnstons is that they no longer get to watch the games.

"But you get to meet lots of people, and we enjoy that a lot," Lynn said.

"We used to come to the games as fans, but we enjoy this a lot," Bruce said. "We've worked with some really good kids down here, and they make things interesting."