Carolina Safety Associates, based in Gastonia, N.C., sells and services fire protection equipment from more than a dozen branches throughout the Southeast. This spring, the company set up a baseball season pitting those branches plus three functional companywide teams against each other. Each month, every team "plays" another team according to a predetermined schedule.

And how do you score runs? Simple: exceed your branch's or unit's goal on any of four sales and profit measures. Bettering the gross-profit target by 10% to 15%, for example, translates into three runs. Beating the sales targetby 1% to 10% counts as one run.

"We'll run it as a regular season for five months," explains company president John deMaine. "Then we'll have playoffs in September and the World Series in October. There are prizes every month for whatever team has the most runs, whoever has the best record, and so on."

Ultimately, deMaine adds, the winning team will get $15,000, to be divvied up among all the team's members. Second-place and third-place finishers will get smaller cash awards. "We have a lot of athletes or would-be athletes in our company. We're only in the first month, but so far it'sbeen good. Everybody's pumped."

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