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Collegiate baseball: Mattingly’s love for game knows no bounds

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Justin Mattingly is not just your average baseball nut.

Oh, sure, he can recite statistics from players past and present, tell you how atmospheric conditions affect pitching performance and all sorts of minutiae concerning the “Grand Old Game”.

But this will tell you about Mattingly’s undying passion for the game, and why he loves working and thinking about baseball almost 24-7:

“I can look at the grass on a baseball card and tell you which stadium the player is in,” Mattingly said matter-of-factly. “I’ve been to every Major League Baseball stadium but one, Target Field in Minneapolis. And that’s only because my dad got sick when we were supposed to make that trip.”

The former Indian River baseball, basketball and tennis player has turned his love of baseball into a summer job the past two seasons with the Watertown Wizards and now the Watertown Rams. And he also caught the eye of Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League President Jeff Kunion, who hired the Syracuse University sophomore-to-be as the Assistant to the President for this season.

While continuing his work for the Rams in several media-related capacities this summer, Mattingly will be busy helping to generate publicity for the PGCBL and its teams, which include the Rams. It’s a job he relishes.

“To be honest with you, I’d probably do it for nothing because it involves being around baseball,” said Mattingly, who will be paid $1,000 a month for his PGCBL work. “We’re a baseball crazy family. My dad (Wayne Mattingly) and my brother (Jarrod, a recent Clarkson University graduate who played baseball for the Golden Knights) are also baseball nuts. I’ve loved it since I can remember. My goal is to some day work in a media-related capacity for a major league team.”

Preferably, that would be for his beloved St. Louis Cardinals, who he still listens to on powerful KMOX radio on his late-night drives back home to Philadelphia after his Rams/PGCBL duties are over for the night.

“I still love listening to John Rooney and (former St. Louis star) Mike Shannon,” Mattingly said. “Whenever Shannon gives you that ‘Get Up Baby’ home run call, it still gives me shivers.”

In his new role with the PGCBL, Mattingly will work on day-to-day media operations — including social media — developing a league media guide, managing the league web site and editing “The Daily Rundown,” which recaps the latest PGCBL games, previews upcoming games and highlights league statistics.

“Justin really has a grasp on the PGCBL, our stat pak software and what we are trying to accomplish with The Daily Rundown,” Kunion said. “But, what truly set him apart from our other candidates was his written communication skills. He is a very talented writer.”

After his predecessor, John McGraw, left to pursue other opportunities, Mattingly expressed interest in the job. He sent an email to Kunion, who lives on Long Island, and they also spoke on the phone. After a meeting at a Starbucks in Syracuse to discuss the details of the job, Mattingly was hired.

Mattingly has already put together a 35-page media guide for the PGCBL, a first of its kind, which includes a master schedule, a recap of the 2012 and 2013 seasons, contact information for the press and more.

A 2013 graduate of Indian River Central School, Mattingly has worked for the Watertown collegiate team since 2012. Last summer, he served as the press box coordinator, managing operations related to broadcasting games on Teamline and on radio. He also acted as the team statistician and assisted with other media related activities.

In 2012, for the then Watertown Wizards, Mattingly served as the in-game sound director and wrote daily press notes for the team.

“We couldn’t be happier for Justin and this opportunity. He deserves it,” said Rams general manager Todd Kirkey. “He is a true baseball person and that is important from our league. We not only put players into professional baseball, but also various staff members and interns.”

This season, in addition to his other myriad of duties for the Rams, he will serve as the play-by-play man for all home games, and a few road games.

“They asked me to do them all, but I thought that would a little too much,” he said. “As it is, my mom worries about me getting enough sleep.”

In addition to his baseball duties, he works a full shift daily as a server at Riley’s on the River in Alexandria Bay. That includes a shift that starts at 6:15 or 8 a.m. and runs to sometimes 3 p.m. Then it’s off to the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds and his work in preparation for a Rams’ home game or putting together information for the PGCBL web site.

“When I’m home, I sometimes have three computers going at the same time,” Mattingly said. “I can do the work on the league web site with advance stuff, keep track of what the Rams are doing and then tweet in real time.”

Mattingly also serves as the official scorer for Rams’ games, which means sending a complete box score to the league and press outlets.

The energetic Mattingly just finished his freshman year at the Syracuse University S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. He is majoring in Newspaper and On Line Journalism with minors in Sports Management, Political Science and Religion.

This past year, Mattingly wrote for the Daily Orange, one of the top college newspapers in the country. That entailed a 36-hour week, from 5 or 6 p.m. to around 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday. He worked on both sports and news stories and this year will serve as an assistant news editor.

Mattingly, by the way, is a huge Duke fan and isn’t afraid to flaunt it among the Orange student section.

He also worked for Citrus TV, the Syracuse University student station, as an assistant producer on the weekends.

And in his spare time, after taking six courses worth 18 hours per semester, Mattingly is a member of the Syracuse University Baseball Statistics and Sabermetrics Club. He is the club treasurer and was a major contributor to the group’s research project analyzing atmospheric conditions and how it affects pitch selection, which was presented at the MIT Sloan Analytics Conference.

“It’s just a bunch of baseball geeks who get together weekly and talk baseball,” he said. “This year we’re thinking of taking on the 6-man rotation and some other neat things.”

Mattingly will tell you that, outside of family and friends, baseball is one of the most important things in his life. “And to have the opportunity to work at it on a daily basis is pretty special,” he said.

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