By: Yoram Kerbel
Canadian Baseball Network
DUNEDIN, FLA. — Playing for the hometown team is a dream for many of us, while thinking towards a future of filling their shoes one day.
Mattingly Romanin, second basemen for the minor-league Vancouver Canadians, is one of the fortunate few that have a chance to make that dream a reality.
“Yeah, every kid wants to play for his hometown team growing up. I was lucky enough, or better yet I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to work my way up,” Romanin said.
Growing up he loved playing shortstop, and it came naturally to him. Unfortunately, at 5-foot-10, he wasn’t blessed with a growth spurt, so the former shortstop turned to second base.
Being a Burlington, Ont., native he looked up to former Toronto Blue Jays infielders for inspiration. “I wanted to have Aaron Hill’s offence with John McDonald’s defence,” Romanin said.
On July 1, 2016, Romanin did something special he’ll never forget. He hit a grand slam. This was no ordinary grand slam; it also was his first professional home run.
His reaction was “really hard to explain,” he said. “I’m a player that doesn’t try to show too much emotion when I get out there, and then that one, it just kind of came out.”
“Canada Day, in Canada, that was my first. Being able to do that was just something special. Just a lot of energy in the ballpark that day, and it’s hard to explain how I felt. It was awesome,” said Romanin, smiling at the memory.
This is the third time he’s attending spring training in Dunedin.
His time to make a living at baseball is running out.
The Blue Jays are working to convert him to catcher. It will make him even more well-rounded, even though that’s not his goal. “I don’t really care, its more my name being in the lineup kind of thing,” Romanin said.