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A baseball lifer: Matt Ellis

Missoula OspreyOne of the best things about working in the baseball industry: hearing about baseball lifers. Here’s an interview with baseball lifer Matt Ellis, executive VP of the Missoula Osprey (rookie; Pioneer League).

The Ellis family moved the team from Lethbridge to Missoula, working for years on a ballpark plan that eventually led to the construction of Ogren Park at Allegiance Field. That effort, which went through some financial problems when a community nonprofit failed to cover ballpark debt, is still regarded by many in the community as a success: with a location on the Clark Fork River, it’s certainly one of the more scenic ballparks in professional baseball. 

From the Missoulian:

Q. You’ve spent more than 20 years in professional baseball. Can you tell me a little bit about how you started, and maybe a short summary of the teams you’ve worked with?

A. My mother, was the first one in my family to be in the minor leagues. So she actually worked as a concession worker when I was young. I don’t know if you remember, Ed Sprague who played for the Blue Jays. Ed Sprague and I would chase foul balls together for free corn dogs, and I won too many of them – that’s why I’m not playing and he did. But seriously I got a bug for what minor league baseball was about back then and from that point on as a youngster I wanted to work in professional baseball. So I actually got the chance when I was at Arizona State to get into the business with the Arizona Firebirds, a AAA team in Phoenix affiliated with the San Francisco Giants. That was two years and then I went to Bellingham, Washington, and was with the Mariners affiliate in the Northwest League for a year, then I spent a year in Modesto (Modesto Nuts, Class A-Advanced). Then my dad said, ‘Hey I want to put together a team to buy this franchise in Lethbridge, Alberta, so I went up there and ran that team. And I’ve also been in Lancaster, California, in the California league and Missoula.

The Pioneer League is a good place to be these days; the team is certainly worth much more than what it cost based in Lethbridge. The league is probably a place for smart investors to look these days.


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