by Wendy Reardon Price
Clarkston News Sports Writer
Nicholas Cowan had no plans on moving to Florida, but is now a visiting clubhouse assistant for the Tampa Bay Rays Major League Baseball organization.
Cowan, a 2009 Clarkston High School graduate, shared that he Googled sports jobs when he moved from his hometown to Tampa, Fla., 11 years ago.
“He had two bat boy openings,” he shared. “I was not thinking that I would get the job, I went there. I had an interview, saw the stadium, worked a few spring training games, and then got a bat boy job on the visiting team. ,
He said it was just random.
“I was 20. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life,” Cowan shared. “It seemed like something that would be cool to work out at the ball park and be around baseball.”
Cowan grew up around baseball. He started with T-ball and ended up playing with Clarkston Varsity Baseball upon graduation.
“One thing I knew I liked was the direction of work in the baseball industry,” he said.
Cowan had been visiting Clubhouse Ball/Bat Boy for seven years and the experience was memorable.
“I’ve met every hero I’ve seen growing up,” he said. He said, “Working in the visiting team, you get to know about every player in every team. The opening day for us was with the New York Yankees and the first man to walk through the door was Derek Jeter. I’m like ‘Wow – here we are’. You have to be professional at the same time. I moved to Florida when I was 20 and suddenly here I am.
He said it was interesting because a year before he started working for the Rays, he only had room tickets to a Detroit Tigers playoff game.
“I remember thinking I might never even go to a regular baseball game again. It couldn’t get better than this,” Cowan said. “Then, on the next opening day in 2012, I was with the New York Yankees. Was sitting in the bullpen.”
Cowan shared that he is in great shape and can be seen occasionally on ESPN’s “Sports Center.”
“It was really cool because my whole family in Michigan turned on the TV and saw me,” he said.
During the middle of his seventh season, he was offered promotion to his current position.
“The person running our dining room and lounge got a promotion. I was offered a job. It’s a completely different approach,” Cowan said. “I’m not on the field. You get to have a more intimate relationship and get to know the players in a different way which is really cool.”
He shared that there are six people in his clubhouse looking after an entire MLB team.
“We are working there as soon as the team lands which could be 4 or 5 in the morning,” he said. “We are opening the equipment there. We come back and we have everything ready for the whole day. All players have to focus on playing. We have food covered. We have laundry cover. His work is going on.
“It’s an interesting world that goes on in the clubhouse. I work about 80-100 hours a week. You get into a good flow especially at this point in the season, you’ve set up your own routine at the club. There are a lot of hardworking people in the house.”
He said that there are a lot of memories in the last 11 years, including different times when COVID started in 2020 and no fans were in the ballpark.
But what sets them apart are the relationships they form.
A relationship is with Alex Moses, a Lake Orion graduate whom he met while working for the Pittsburgh Pirates during spring training.
“She was a dietitian for the Pirates. We got to know each other,” Cowan said. “We had no idea we grew up next to each other. She is now overseeing all of the league meal preparation for the Baltimore Orioles, and she travels with them. It was funny when I saw her on Facebook and she went to Lake Orion and I went to Clarkston.
During the summer, he was nominated to work in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, a tournament played in Japan, Taiwan and the United States.
“It’s great,” he said. “My boss helps oversee it. He asked me to work for the World Baseball Classic. A simple Google search of Tampa Sports Jobs 11 years ago is absurd to think I could work at an international baseball tournament.” And maybe working in Japan for a month next spring. It’s pretty wild.”
No matter where he travels, Cowan said that coming home is always special.
“When I come back to Clarkston, I see everything in flashbacks — trying to make it into high school baseball and always having a dream for baseball,” he said. “My parents and brother are amazingly supportive. It’s really nice to be around the world’s greatest athletes now. Every time I come back to Clarkston, it’s a fond memory. Without my mom signing me up for T-ball, my dad sponsored the team, and my grandfather who was a really good baseball player, I wouldn’t have been obsessed.
“It’s interesting to think that you make a little difference in a Major League Baseball game, but I always forget it until I get back to Clarkston.”