By Melissa Verge
Canadian Baseball Network
A younger Mark Shapiro stands on a baseball field, surrounded by orange and black garments, and players that are quite a bit taller than he is. He is around 10 years old, and bat boy for one Baltimore Orioles game.
That he says, was an indelible childhood memory for him.
Now, he is a quite a bit taller, almost 50 years old, and going slightly grey. He has many different titles, although former bat boy is not one he uses. He’s been president of the Toronto Blue Jays since 2015, but he’s also a husband, a dad, and a son. It’s likely if you’re walking by him at the Rogers Centre, he will offer a smile and a hello.
There are also rare occasions you may catch a glimpse of Mr. Shapiro inside his suite doing what he calls “a low-key fist pump.” Although he tends not to cheer, 162 games is a long time. “There are moments that are impossible not to be excited about and cheer, but they would have to be the more dramatic moments,” he says.
Shapiro starts his day off with the same shake for breakfast every morning. Frozen berries, whey protein, chia seed, flax seed, almond milk, and a little stevia. He’s a crack of dawn kind of guy. “I love the early morning when I’m sifting through my emails sipping my coffee before my workout,” he says.
However, even with working out, spending half the summer at the Rogers Centre can make it difficult to stay healthy, so Shapiro has to be aware of his food choices at the stadium.
“Because I’m there 81 games and there’s a fat guy inside of me waiting to come out, I tend to stick to the lighter sweet food for my meals. As much as I would love to eat hotdogs every night, I have to stay away from that,” he says.
His first job post university was with a real estate developer in Southern California. From there, Shapiro says that it was clear this was not the right job for him, and it led him towards what would eventually be a career in baseball.
Although this career was not as a player, Shapiro says he would not perform well if given the opportunity to take his place on the diamond, he found success in other ways. “I think the reality that most of us are not players is kind of what drives us to find an outlet for our passion for the game in the front office instead of on the field,” he says.
However, working in the front office as president of the Blue Jays does present its challenges.
“Sometimes because you’re looking at things from a business perspective and trying to do the right thing in the long run, they’re not necessarily aligned with your short-term interests of fans. People don’t want to intellectualize sport, and so making the right decision for the franchise is often one that is a tough one for other people and often the hard to explain,” says Shapiro.
Despite the challenge, Shapiro says he very much enjoys his job.
“I love every aspect of my day. They’re all different, there’s not a moment in time that I don’t look out the window at the baseball field and feel fortunate to be doing what I’m doing.”