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Oakland A's big-league LAN a hit.

On the field, the Oakland A's are always in the pennant race. But there's more to baseball today than the nine men on the field.

Behind the scenes, the team's front office has big league responsibilities including ticket sales, marketing and player contracts. All of these tasks must be managed and smoothly coordinated to prevent errors and ensure enjoyment for hundreds of thousands of A's fans.

"We couldn't do it without a great computer system," says Mark Bidstrup, the A's data processing ace.

According to Bidstrup, the system now employed by the organization is used for everything from storing player information, scouting statistics and training programs to more routine, but vital tasks like expediting accounting and word processing.

Before 1989, he says, the situation was admittedly unworkable. Only a few standalone IBM PCs were shared among more than 80 employees. Most staff were not computer literate and could not learn since they could not get computer time on the few available machines.

Although the team is known for its success on the field, "The organization realized that the A's needed to focus quality attention on the front office staff and, with that in mind, they installed a state-of-the-art computer system," Bidstrup recalls. "We needed to share large amounts of data, so a powerful, reliable LAN seemed the way to go."

Bidstrup, a computer veteran, was brought in by the Athletics to help manage and further develops a system to meet the needs of their organizations. Working with a Fry's electronics consultant, Bidstrup installed a system incorporating a DTK3000 386 server, U-Tron 386 SX and DTK 286 diskless workstations running on an Arcnet network.

All units use CNet Technology's CN120A and CN160A Arcnet boards, as well as CN008AH 8-port active hubs. The boards support Novell's version 2.2 operating system, selected for its superior performance.

"CNet's network interface cards are used in all machines," says Bidstrup. "With such reliable products, a considerable amount of large word processing tasks have been reduced to easy, redundant-less procedures."

Reliability is important especially when more than one event occurs simultaneously at the Coliseum. For instance, when the stadium is fully lit for a night game and Van Halen is performing next door at the Coliseum Arena, electrical capacity is "maxed out," Bidstrup says. "Serious power spikes and surgess could occur.

"We'vee had lots of power problems here. The CNet cards have been the one thing that haven't flaked out on our network."

Word and list processing and software save staff time on tasks like producing documents and storing information. With the server and hub, employees can enjoy the ease of sharing files. Indeed, the scope of the computer network is evident throughout the A's organization.

For example, the list of participants in the team's annual Community Fund golf tournament can now be pulled up from the server, rather than laboriously compiled by hand.

Another advantage, Bidstrup says, is using the system for training and contractual purposes. An abundance of player information is maintained on the system, he says, including pertinent medical information which can be called up quickly when injuries occur.

"We've taken advantage of some software products such as Paradox and come up with some useful systems, allowing management to quickly scan player information," he continues.

Although there is a great deal of overlap in system uses, it is not generally employed by the coaching staff. Coaches may use the system more as renovation of the clubhouse, to which their offices are attached, is completed.

The computer network fits right into the newly expanded front office along the third base line between the Coliseum's first and second decks. Housed in the 25-year-old Coliseum, the system is serving the A's of the 1990s well.

"I don't see an immediate need for expansion, though we may have need for another server as time goes on," Bidstrup says. "In fact, it seems that our system will continue to score administrative home runs for years to come."
COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:local area network
Publication:Communications News
Date:Mar 1, 1992
Words:659
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