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'Fish Action Doesn't End With Last Out

For most baseball fans, when the last game is over, it's out of sight, out of mind, until Opening Day next year. But for the workers, it's not as simple as locking the stadium and turning off the lights.

"We have to get things ready for winter," says Tom Yario, facilities coordinator and stadium manager for the Bridgeport Bluefish , whose season went a little longer than usual thanks to making the Atlantic League championship series. The concession stands at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard have to be taken down and packed away, the advertising banners on the outfield wall are removed, and the playground equipment in the Kids Cove is put away until spring.

Later next month, the water will be turned off everywhere except in the team offices, which are used year round. "The irrigation pipes in the field have to be empty, or they'll freeze and crack," says Yario, who has been with the Bluefish for two years.

The off-season is also a time for maintenance. The locker rooms and luxury boxes will get fresh coats of paint, and carpets will be replaced in some areas of the 12-year-old stadium .

The uniforms will be sent out for reconditioning, and those that are too worn will be replaced.

In early March, as fans begin itching for the return of baseball, the winterizing process is reversed. The water is turned back on to begin irrigating the field, making it verdant green in time for opening day. Then the new banners are put up, and the concession stands and Kids Cove are reassembled, all in time for the most eagerly-awaited sound of spring: "Play Ball!"

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