Stranded Travelers Find Work At Jacobs Field

CLEVELAND (AP) - Some of the 50 Lithuanian college students stranded here last month when their summer work-exchange jobs fell through have found a home at Jacobs Field.

Cleveland SportService, the company responsible for concessions at the stadium, hired 15 of the students as vendors.

Instead of cleaning hotel rooms as they had anticipated, they're selling peanuts, Cracker Jack and soda in the midst of America's favorite pastime.

"They speak English and they know our money," said Marie Eslick, human resources manager for SportService. "The only thing they didn't know was baseball."

Diana Sikaityte can be heard selling sodas in the stands with her distinctive call: "Paaayhhhp-see! Diet Paayhhhp-see!"

The students plan to work at home games through September, when they'll return to school.

Sikaityte, 21, said she felt awkward her first day with more than 40,000 fans cheering and milling around as she tried to make change.

"I was afraid," she said. "There were so many people and I'm all alone and shouting."

When the crowds erupt into shouts and applause, Sandra Paleviciute said she looks at the field and wonders what's happening. But she and the others have been too busy trying to make commissions to spend much time watching or learning the game, she said.

A number of the students who arrived in Cleveland last month found jobs in other cities. Those who remain have also found jobs cleaning offices and air conditioning ducts.

They're living with Lithuanian-Americans or in apartments furnished with donations from the community.

Each paid as much as $700 to participate in the summer jobs program and had additional transportation and related costs. They arranged jobs through an international exchange organization and a placement agency, MBS Inc. of nearby Eastlake.

The company, which doesn't have a phone listing, has been unavailable for comment.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)