Field Day

Liz Berlin is one of just a few people left in the country who manage major-league baseball scoreboards the old-fashioned way, by hanging physical panels with numbers and letters.

Photo by Jeff Nelson

Fans of the Rockies may have cheered their way through ballgames from the nosebleeds, the Rockpile, the luxury boxes, or anywhere in between, but few have seen a game the way Liz Berlin has. For the last 11 years, Berlin has spent more than 40 games per season huddled in the catwalk behind the out-of-town scoreboard in right field, operating it by hand. “I’ve loved baseball since high school,” Berlin says. “I had a boyfriend who played, and I always used to keep score.” Decades later, she’s still at it—albeit on a slightly larger stage—one of just a few people left in the country who manage major-league scoreboards the old-fashioned way, by hanging physical panels with numbers and letters.

How does the scoreboard work?
“It’s actually quite easy. It’s made up of dozens of individual panels, which are basically steel squares with stops on the backside. We slide them in and out by hand, to keep track of scores for all the games going on that day across the country: National League, American League, and all the interleague games.”

How do you set up for a game?
“Before I even get to the field, I have to know who’s playing and who’s pitching in all the out-of-town games, so I put together a spreadsheet. I usually get to the field about two and a half hours before game time. Based on my sheet, I start setting up—pulling out the panels, changing them. Then I turn on the TVs. We have two TVs back there, with eight games running at the same time.”

Do you keep an eye on what’s happening in Coors Field?
“Actually, if it’s really busy, I’m not even paying attention to our game, because I don’t have time. If I hear a loud roar from the fans, I might look out quickly to see what’s going on, but otherwise, I’m like, ‘OK, now I have to go change Boston and put them in the fifth.’ I’m more concentrating on all the other games. I like to watch ours if I get the chance, but I don’t always get that chance.”

Are you exposed to the elements in there?
“Oh, yes. At times, it’s been so cold that we actually put space heaters on our laps. Two years ago, there was one game when it was raining sideways and we couldn’t hide anywhere to get out of it. You have to understand: Even if there’s a rain delay at Coors Field, we’re still working, because the out-of-town games are still going on.”

Have you gotten sick of baseball after so many games?
“At the end of every season, we always say we’re tired of baseball. Then around January it seeps back into you and you’re like, ‘When is baseball gonna start?’ I just love the ambience, the atmosphere, the people. We’re there to make the experience a good one for the fans, and so we all take our jobs very seriously, but at the same time we have fun.”