RICHFIELD, Minn. -- Watching baseball is Matt Mahoney’s job.
Mahoney, a former player for the Grand Forks Royals American Legion and UND baseball teams, is in his 15th season as a scout for the Boston Red Sox. His job is to watch and evaluate, looking for players the Red Sox may be interested in signing as free agents or trying to acquire in trades.
Usually, by mid-May Mahoney would have already seen approximately 70 games. But there’s nothing usual about this spring and the COVID-19 pandemic.
He scouted approximately 10 high school and college games in the Dallas area before the pandemic forced cancelations across the country. Mahoney was sent to his home here.
“For people like us, who spend so much time away from home, it’s been a lot different spring,’’ said the 41-year-old Mahoney, a 1997 Grand Forks Red River High School graduate. “All those projects you put off, there’s time to do them. There’s no excuse now for not having a nice lawn.’’
Mahoney estimates he watches 200 baseball games a year. That means 150 to 200 nights a year staying in a motel.
“This has been a huge lifestyle change,’’ Mahoney said. “There’s been more time with family. I’m eating healthier. You enjoy the time at home. But I’m ready to get back out there.’’
Major League Baseball is currently looking at a proposal to resume play in early July. A shortened season could be an equalizer.
“Some teams that maybe couldn’t stick with the big dogs for a full 162-game season may be able to stick around for half a season,’’ Maloney said. “Maybe some teams will be involved in the playoffs that might not have been expected to be.’’
Mahoney isn’t sure what his job will entail when play resumes. Fans may not be allowed in the stands. Scouts may not, either. If that’s the case, Mahoney said he’ll spend more time at home, analyzing game videos rather than being at games.
Mahoney had hopes of being a professional baseball player rather than a scout.
While pitching at the University of North Dakota, the right-hander was selected in the 48th round by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2000 MLB amateur draft. But his professional pitching career never got started because of shoulder injury.
“I had a bad tear in there,’’ Mahoney said. “I was unlucky.
“It is what it is. You transition to something else. I was able to stay with something I love.’’
There are behind-the-scenes rewards. On Boston’s 2018 World Championship team, two of the players on the roster were acquired after he recommended them to the front office. “You feel satisfied with something like that,’’ Mahoney said.
The profession means countless nights in motels away from family and lots of time at the ballpark. Mahoney says he never gets tired of it. “(It) beats getting a real job,’’ he said.