Atlas Springs Into Action for Major League Baseball

Aug 11, 2006

Forget Ground Hog Day. Everyone knows that the real harbinger of spring isn't the shadow of Punxsutawney Phil. It's the appearance of an Atlas moving team outside the baseball park. That's because Atlas and spring training go together like peanuts and Cracker Jack®. Each February since 1996, New England Household Moving & Storage (1760) has had the privilege to transport gear for the Boston Red Sox from Fenway Park to the club's training camp in Florida. The occasion has become an event for Red Sox fans, who line the streets and follow the Atlas van as it begins the 1500 mile journey to Fort Myers. "The Red Sox put a lot of trust in us," says Kevin Carson, service pro with the Atlas agency. "One big reason is van operator Alan Hartz. He and his crew make this whole thing happen in a well-choreographed process."

Departure day is usually close to Valentine's Day. Loading takes place in the morning and includes all the items the club will need for its regimen in the weeks ahead, including uniforms, bats, balls, computers, files, first aid kits, and golf clubs.

"We can't forget the golf clubs," says Kevin. "After all, the team will spend several weeks in Florida."

The trip back to Fenway Park takes place in early April, in plenty of time for the first home game.

"I'm a frustrated former baseball player," says Kevin. "Helping my favorite club relocate for spring training is one way I stay close to the game. After all, someone has to do this job... why not us?"


Meanwhile, the Cleveland Indians are limbering up in Winter Haven, Florida. The Indians begin their training in January with transportation assistance from American Transportation Companies Inc. (110). As it has since the early 1980s, the Atlas agent handles the relocation of "The Tribe" when it makes its annual 1150 mile trek south and back.

"We usually use two trucks for the trip down and three for the return," says General Manager Nick Harsoulas, who oversees the effort to relocate approximately 60,000 pounds of gear. The shipment is bigger on the return, says Nick, due to the addition of the team's personal items and training equipment.

"The people in the Cleveland club are great to work with," says Nick. "Whatever they need, we provide. Service is key to our successful relationship."

The Atlas agency fields a seasoned team to make the entire process as smooth as "good cheese" (that's baseball parlance for a smokin' fast ball). Operators Mark Church, Chris Kaly and Dwayne Ball bring the know-how that ensures efficiency. Two members of the agency team, Scott Anderson and Nick Harsoulas Jr., enjoy a special status. They are responsible for shuttling the team's equipment to and from the airport for road games, and they even carry Cleveland Indian ID cards to facilitate their onsite service.

"It's a mutually rewarding relationship," says Nick Jr. "The team relies on us, and we work hard for them. But it's enjoyable work."

On the west side of the continent, experts with Alexander's Mobility Services are helping two California ball teams in a similar fashion. Although the departure for spring training doesn't carry quite the same hoopla as it does in Boston, or begin quite as early as it does for Cleveland, it's obvious that west coast teams take their preparations for a winning season seriously.

"I typically have a crew of three, and we load out on the Friday of Super Bowl weekend and deliver the next day," says Henry Cuellar, a contractor with Alexander's Tustin office (207).

Since the late 1980s, Henry has been making sure that everything the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim need to prepare for the regular season finds its way safely and securely to their training camp. He is responsible for a shipment that makes a 7-hour trip to Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, then back to Anaheim when training is finished.

"The size fluctuates, from 30,000 to 40,000 pounds," says Henry. "I take it all in one trailer, making sure that certain items are loaded last so the team can start the business of playing ball right away."

Henry says he truly enjoys working with the organization. And it doesn't hurt that the team shows appreciation to him with perks, such as apparel and tickets.

"The people are fun to be around," says Henry. "There's a real comfort level with them, like I am part of the family."

Dennis Cronin with the Alexander's office in Hayward, California (208) heads the agency team that ensures excellent service for the Oakland Athletics ball club.

"I became acquainted with the Athletics organization through a close friend, a Marine buddy who was a ball player," says Dennis. "I've been working with the club now for 30 years."

Dennis points out that van operators Karl Karlsen and John Mander have been key to an outstanding service effort. "The club has developed a level of comfort with our people over the years that has helped to strengthen our working relationship."

The departure date for the Athletics is usually the first Monday in February. The Atlas agency team loads the shipment and transports it approximately 750 miles, from McAfee Coliseum in Oakland to Phoenix Municipal Stadium in Phoenix, Arizona.

"We typically handle from 20,000 to 25,000 pounds on the way down and maybe an additional 5,000 pounds on the way back, which includes personal items for the players," says Dennis. "During the regular season we also provide transportation services for the team when it travels, ensuring their equipment gets safely to and from the airport."

The Athletics opened their season against the Yankees on April 3 at home.

"I think they have a really good team this year," says Dennis. "It's going to be fun to watch."




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