One 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.
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.
Share your news with the baseball community. Send it to us at email@example.com.
Are you a subscriber to the weekly Ballpark Digest newsletter? You can sign up for a free subscription at the Newsletter Signup Page.