Thousands of fans pack the seats at FirstEnergy Stadium for each baseball game cheering, clapping and dancing to the music. No one glances back to the press box to see the man behind the music.
That man is Benjamin Smith, the Music and Sound Coordinator for both the Reading Fightin’ Phils and the Reading Royals. Smith thrives in the press box, watching over the game and the fans, and creating the atmosphere with music.
Smith’s love for music began while attending Reading Phillies games with his dad and hearing the range of songs that were played. At the age of 18 he began working for the Reading Phillies.
“Since I was a kid I’ve always wanted to do music for them,” Smith says. “I grew up going there a lot, and I just fell in love with the atmosphere and passion that the Fightin’ Phils provide.”
When baseball season ended, Smith began working for the Reading Royals and discovered a completely different atmosphere.
“With hockey, the pace of the game is always pretty high, and that’s one thing that I love,” Smith says. “You constantly have to have music ready to go during games because of how drastically a situation can change.”
Four years later Smith is still encouraging Reading fans to get up and dance. The job can get stressful at times, he arrives three hours before game time each night and also works numerous pre- and post-game events, but the fans give him the energy to keep going.
“I use the talent that God has provided me to entertain, in some cases, as many as 9,000 people in one night,” Smith says. “The energy that it provides is simply amazing.”
His fellow employees can see the impact Smith makes at events.
“He does a great job pumping up the crowd during Royals games,” Kurt Roberts, a fellow employee at both places, says of Smith. “Getting the crowd into the game can sometimes get the team more into the game.”
Smith’s work even has a noticeable effect on the players.
“His music plays a big part,” Roberts says, “He plays a warm-up music mix to get the Royals players ready during warm-ups for the game, and at the stadium the walk-up music gets the player pumped up for his at-bat or pitching appearance.”
Maybe the next time the crowd is dancing and cheering to the music, one fan will turn around and see the man behind the music, but even if no one does, Smith is happy to be doing his job.
“I just love how much music tells a story and how it causes people to show all of their emotions,” Smith says; his passion is clear as he in unable to stop the smile that slides across his face. “It also creates an atmosphere of fun and laughter and that is just something that has always put a smile on my face. I figure if I can make people happy then I’m doing my job right.”