From Grimsby to Miami
Grimsby’s Josh Ostaszewicz is working this summer as a member of the grounds crew for the Miami Marlins. Photo by: STEVE OSTASZEWICZ
Josh Ostaszewicz has made it to the big leagues.
The 18-year-old Grimsby resident and Ridley College graduate has the summer job to end all summer jobs after securing a position as a member of the grounds crew for the Miami Marlins.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Ostaszewicz said from Miami Beach, where he is spending the summer with his father, former St. Catharines Falcons assistant general manager and director of player development Steve Ostaszewicz. “At first I was a little starstruck, but not too much because I’m used to being around players because my dad used to work in hockey.
“This was a different monster in a sense it was much bigger and there are more things going on and I have to do things and just the aspect I don’t want to screw up.”
The 13-person crew has several duties which include chalking the third base and warning track lines, dragging the warning track, clearing the field of the batting cages and screens and taking care of the tarp. The crew also rake the infield dirt and change the bases every three innings during games. Postgame, they rake the field again and remove and wash the bases, rebuild the home plate area and the tend to the mound. They also vacuum the infield.
“Once I did it I realized that it’s like clockwork,” he said. “You get into the rhythm of it and it gets easy if you have good co-workers like I do.”
Members of the grounds crew also act as ball boys/girls down the right and left field lines during games and are responsible for fielding foul balls while making sure not to interfere with the play on the field.
It didn’t take long for Ostaszewicz to find himself in the line of fire.
“The first time I got a hot shot off the wall and I got it in my glove,” he said proudly. “It was a lot of fun.”
He admitted the job can have its harrowing moments.
“It’s like that a lot of the time. You just don’t want to make a mistake. I saw one of my older co-workers do a face plant. I just don’t want to fall on my face. If it gets past me, it gets past me. As long as I make a good effort I’m content with that.”
Being on a big league field during a game also gives him up close and personal interaction with the players.
“There are a couple of players who thank us when we’re dragging the field during the games, they’ll wave at us and nod to us,” he said.
Ostaszewicz said Marlins first baseman Jesus Aguilar is particularly friendly.
“He’s a really funny guy. When we’re sitting at ball boy, he’ll be talking to the other teams and just joking and being silly, but then when the ball comes, he’s so serious.
“He’s a big teddy bear; he makes things enjoyable.”
Ostaszewicz, who was born in Columbus while his father was working as manager of multimedia for the Columbus Blue Jackets, has duel American/Canadian citizenship. He has completed his first year at Niagara University in Lewiston, NY., where he received a presidential scholarship and alumni family scholarship and is an integrated management major.
He was looking for a summer job in the Miami area where his father works for Tim Hortons after being transferred to the U.S. brand four years ago, when he stumbled across the position on Indeed.com and submitted a resume.
“I would have had to quarantine if went home (to Grimsby where his mother Tara and sister Jillian live) so I decided to come down here where I wouldn’t have to quarantine and have more of a normal summer,” he said.
He also knew he wanted to work in sports if at all possible and become the third generation of his family to work in the industry following his father and uncle Eddie Swiss, who played professional hockey and professional baseball in the early 60s and also worked in hockey after his playing days.
“I love sports,” he said. “I was always surrounded by sports, baseball in the summer and hockey in the winter, and just sports in general when I went to Ridley. I enjoy it and the aspect of being athletic and doing something you love. If you do something you love you’ll never work a day in your life I’ve been told.”
Ostaszewicz, who plans to go to law school and study sports and entertainment law when he graduates from Niagara, appreciates the opportunity and feels his story shows anything can happen.
“A lot of people when I was younger told me I couldn’t do much because I was smaller. That made me drive so much harder to prove those people wrong and be a good role model for people who want to work in sports like I do,” he said. “A lot of people back home are going through a lot of adversity right now and I just want to be a positive light and a positive story for people to keep pushing and doing your best.
“If you put your mind to it, you can do anything. That’s what my motto has been the whole time.”
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