Montville's Tracey having a blast in Brockton
In his crazy busy job as collegiate summer baseball team general manager, Tom Tracey relishes the moment when a game is underway.
Tracey can sit in the stands at the Brockton Rox's Campanelli Stadium and soak in the action on the field.
It's one of the few times during a typical game day that Tracey's on-the-go job slows down. Until something pops up that requires his attention.
"The fun part is when you're in the middle of the game and everything is taken care of and I get to sit down and watch a few innings of the game and enjoy it," Tracey said on Friday.
Tracey, a 1993 Montville High School graduate, is in his full first year as general manager for Brockton, one of six teams in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League. He previously spent four seasons as an assistant coach for the Rox, who are located in Brockton, Mass.
So it's an adjustment for Tracey going from the field to the front office.
"It's overwhelming at times," Tracey said. "It's like anything the first time you're in it, you're learning a lot. Luckily, for me, everyone in the league and other general managers are great to work with. ... I've been involved with the team for several years so I understand how a lot of it runs. That's the one positive for me going into it.
"It's a new ball game being behind the scenes more than on the field. So, it's a learning process. But it's fun, interesting and busy."
It's also a full-time, year-round job.
He handles the operations of the stadium, setting up events like concerts. This winter, he wants to bring in a full outdoor hockey rink and hold an outdoor hockey tournament.
Tracey has a baseball background. He played at Montville High School, UConn Avery Point and Post University in Waterbury. Some of his biggest influences were coaches, including Vin Terni, Jack O'Keefe, John Susi and Roger Bidwell. His parents and two brothers also fueled his passion for the sport.
He left southeastern Connecticut about 15 years ago and moved to Massachusetts. He and his wife, Erin, have two children — nine-year-old Olivia and Luke, 11.
He changed career paths, moving from social work to the education field. He was the dean of students for Learning Prep School in Newton and also worked as an assistant principal for Kington public schools and Barnstable public schools.
When Tracey saw Brockton was looking for an assistant coach, he applied and got the job.
So what drew him back to baseball?
"I just love the game and love coaching," Tracey said. "I played baseball and have been around it. I've been fortunate enough to have been around some people that have just been great baseball players and great people. ... I had such good teammates my whole life and it just
gave me a passion for baseball."
But he never thought about working in the front office until offered the job last year.
It's certainly challenging being a general manager of a baseball team during a pandemic.
"I really wasn't expecting a pandemic to happen as I was going into my first year as a GM," Tracey said. "It changed everything."
With no fans allowed in the stands for home games, Tracey has had to get creative and find ways for the Brockton fans to watch the games.
Tracey has tried to replicate the game day atmosphere. Brockton has a beer garden down the left field that is limited to 100 fans. Music is blasted over the loudspeakers and a public address announcer is on duty.
"We make it as fun as possible for those 100 fans," Tracey said. "Other than that, we stream the games online for everyone to see. We have the broadcasters. Bottom line, we do it for the players. They're grateful that they can play baseball this summer. We have probably a dozen major leagues scouts at every game, which is getting these young athletes seen to try to get to that level. Ultimately, that's what the goal is."
Another challenge was restocking rosters because some out-of-state players either decided not to play or couldn't come because of a lack of host families.
On the plus side, the talent level is better than ever in the Futures League, which benefited from the New England Collegiate Baseball League and Cape Cod League canceling their seasons.
"The talent in our league this year is incredible," Tracey said. "In our first game this season, we had seven guys topping out the (radar) guns from 92 to 97 miles per hour. You have some great arms and some great bats. A lot of future first round draft picks, so it's a good league."
There's never a dull moment for Tracey.
Even on days like Friday when a game is rained out and he has to figure out a make-up date in an already crowded schedule.
"It's different each day, honestly," Tracey said.
And that's what makes the job enjoyable for him.
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