Having a ball: working as a major league baseball bat boy is a dream come true

Winning a ball

IT WAS THE LAST PITCH of the 2010 World Series, and Marco Alioto, a 14-year-old bat boy for the San Francisco Giants, waited to run onto the field with the team to celebrate the victory over the Texas Rangers. "I'm about the luckiest kid on the face of the Earth," Marco was thinking. He celebrated again when the Giants won the 2012 World Series. Marco also feels lucky to work around great players. 'That's probably one of the coolest parts of the job for me, especially being a young fan." At work, he sees guys like catcher Buster Posey, the National League's Most Valuable Player in 2012--"guys that have been your idols," says Marco, now 17 and a high-school ballplayer. BAT BOY BUSINESS Marco's duties include cleaning players' shoes, helping the clubhouse chef, cleaning out batting cages and keeping lockers neat. This year he's working in the clubhouse, getting the players what they need. "It could be anything, from getting a new … [Read more...]

Making the call: find out what it’s like to be a major league baseball umpire

Fun and game

GETTING TO THE MAJOR LEAGUES IS A DREAM FOR A LOT OF GUYS, but for some, that dream isn't what you might think. While most guys have their minds set on playing baseball, there are a few others who want to get out there to make the calls. Major League Baseball employs 74 umpires. Most travel as part of a crew of four umps to games across the country during the 162-game season. Making it to this highest level in the profession isn't easy. FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME Dan Bellino has been a full-time MLB ump since 2011. He fell for officiating when he was a college student and started reffing basketball games. He went on to get a law degree, but he didn't want to spend his life in a courtroom. "Something about officiating really intrigued me, so I looked into how to become a professional official," he says. "When I was introduced to umpire school, I almost immediately decided that this was something that I really wanted to do for a living." Also … [Read more...]

Canadian-owned Matts Scooter paces mile in world record time

matts-scooter

The Globe and Mail Canadian-owned Matts Scooter took spectators by surprise yesterday pacing the fastest mile in harness racing history at the historic Red Mile track in Lexington, Ky. The 3-year-old stepped the mile in 1:48 2/5 shattering an eight-year- old mark of 1:49 1/5 set by the legendary Niatross, also at the Red Mile. He is trained by Harry Poulton for owners Gord and Illa Rumpel of Port Perry, Ont., and Flamboro Downs' president Charlie Juravinski of Dundas, Ont. Poulton said earlier he hoped for a 1:50 mile and "anything faster would be a bonus." Before Matts Scooter's milestone, only two standardbreds, both pacers, had beaten the 1:50 mile mark. Niatross' son Nihilator, sped a race mile in 1:49 3/5 mile at The Meadowlands in New Jersey in 1985. Both Niatross and Matts Scooter raced in time trials - against the clock with a throughbred horse to prompt the pace. Canadian-born Michel Lachance drove Matts Scooter to his record mile. … [Read more...]

Driver reins in Matt’s Scooter in winning major Calgary race

Buddy Gilmour

There have been some disappointments for Matt's Scooter this year, but yesterday's performance, as he breezed home to win the Nat Christie Memorial Stake at Stampede Park, was not one of them. In two tries at Toronto's Greenwood Raceway, the 3-year-old Ontario pacer has gone off as an even-money favorite, only to disappoint his backers by finishing third and fourth. Yesterday, though, he romped home by 10 lengths, paying $2.60 across the board in the process. The $150,000 race is the highlight of Alberta's harness-racing season and generally attracts classy horses. But Matt's Scooter, who won the $1,039,000 Meadowlands Pace on July 15, is more than classy. He has a good chance to be chosen the 3-year-old pacer of the year, as his 1988 winnings are closing in on $1-million. Yesterday, he wasn't pressed. Had he been, he might have surpassed the Canadian record of 1:52 3/5ths. But with no competition in sight, he cruised the mile in 1:54, with driver David … [Read more...]

Powered wheelchair ‘scooter’ pushes firm to profit

Invacare Wheelchair

The big Ohio wheelchair maker, recently dismissed Canadian rival Fortress Scientific Ltd. as a "small niche player." But Michael Smith, president of the fledgling Toronto-based company, wasn't offended. Indeed, the description may be a source of pride to Mr. Smith, considering the two companies' relative fortunes of late. Invacare, which is based in Elyria, Ohio, had revenue of $91.3- million (U.S.) in 1984, but it has lost $6.8-million since the beginning of last year, more than its profi in the previous three years. Meanwhile, Fortress Scientific, which is in its third year, is approaching $20-million in annual sales, Mr. Smith said. He would not divulge how much the company earned, but he said it did make a "significant" profit. And it did so against conventional wisdom by building battery- powered wheelchairs - more specifically, powered chairs that resemble a go-cart racer topped with a plush seat and space age gadgetry. In … [Read more...]