Category Archives: 3 Strikes

3 Strikes with Dan Watson

Dan WatsonIf you check the front office page of the Fort Wayne TinCaps website, you’ll see that there are many new names and faces. One of them is Dan Watson, who joined the team as the Radio Broadcast Manager in November.

He’s wasted little time in getting to work, having put together his own blog, The Watson Files, where he dishes on pretty much everything. He recently was kind enough to answer my 3 Strikes.

Here goes:

STRIKE 1: This is your first season In Fort Wayne. Tell us a little about yourself and your experiences in professional baseball so far.

Well, I’m 24 years old, originally from northeast Ohio in a small town called Conneaut. I went to school at Otterbein College near Columbus, OH. During college I was the sports director of the campus radio station, the lead broadcaster for a wood-bat summer collegiate league team (the Delaware Cows) and a news/sports reporter/anchor for a commercial radio station in Columbus. This will be my third year in professional baseball; in 2007 I was with the Daytona Cubs of the Florida State League and last season I called games for the Harrisburg Senators in the Eastern League, alongside former Wizards broadcaster Terry Byrom.

STRIKE 2: You’ll be the lead radio announcer in the upcoming season, what might we expect from you and your crew when we listen in?

Good question… This is my first time being the lead broadcaster for a 140-game schedule, so your guess is as good as mine! Seriously, a night of baseball is fun and (usually) exciting and I hope people will be able to feel that enthusiasm when they listen to TinCaps games. I grew up listening to Tom Hamilton on Cleveland Indians broadcasts and his energy, ability to “see everything” and storytelling ability are things I try to emulate. Last year in Harrisburg, we had a player who grew up around the corner from Burl Ives and another who had his father-in-law as his field manager earlier in the year (luckily for him they were on good terms!). Not every game is going to be a nailbiter and not everybody is a die-hard baseball fan, but most people I know will stick around for a good story.

STRIKE 3: You recently started a blog, The Watson Files. How’s the fan repsonse been so far? 

I’ve gotten a few e-mails here and there, mostly people welcoming me to town. I think it takes a little while for the general public to realize it’s there and that it’s worth taking a few minutes to read. We’re looking at doing some podcasts as the season gets closer. My hope is that it gets people excited about Parkview Field and baseball in general.

Photo courtesy of the Fort Wayne Tincaps.

3 Strikes with Tom Mott

Former Fort Wayne Wizards Pitcher Now Helps Youth to Achieve Their Dreams as Founder of 1Dream Foundation

Tom Mott was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the fourth round of the 1994 Amateur Draft as the 99th overall selection. In 2005, he went 13-4 with a 4.03 ERA in 25 games with the Wizards; all of them as a starter. He struck out 64 while walking 48 over 129.2 innings pitched.

His performance was often that of a number one starter after having been pegged as the Wizards’ number four coming out of Spring Training. It was also good enough to earn him a spot on the Midwest League All-Star Team that year, alongside fellow Wizards, Jake Patterson and Corey Koskie. Mott was also recently selected as a member of the All-Time Wizards Team.

Tom Mott with the Wizards in 1995While 1995 was a bright spot in his career, Mott appeared in just 34 games over the next 3 years and never apeared higher than Double-A ball as he battled arm/elbow injuries. By 1999, he was out of baseball.

After his playing days, he went on to coach youth basketball and spent one season as an assistant coach with the Miami Tropics basketball organization. Most recently, he founded the 1Dream Foundation that is aimed at helping underprivileged international teens to use basketball as a means for getting into U.S. schools and college.

Mott was recently kind enough to take “3 Strikes” from me and is the very first in what I hope will become a recurring segment here at Baseball in Fort Wayne. So, without further ado . . .

Tell me about your favorite memories of playing in Fort Wayne.

There were many great memories during my season in Fort Wayne.  The memories began with an 18-inning marathon game to open the season in 30 degree weather.  I didn’t pitch that night, so I nearly froze to death in the dugout for 5+ hours.  I think my first official outing as a Wizard was on the road in Battle Creek.  The night before our game was snowed out, and so we played a doubleheader in the freezing cold with piles of snow connecting the field to the stands. 
 
As the season progressed I had some great run support and put together some wins and was selected for the MWL All Star Game at West Michigan.  That was quite an honor and a lot of fun.  Memories at Memorial Stadium included pitching on the same night that Jeff Gordon came to town.  He threw out the first pitch and I was amazed at how short he was.  Being a California kid, NASCAR wasn’t in my blood and I honestly didn’t even know who he was at the time.  But looking back now at the career that he has had, I was honored to share the mound with him. 
 
I had a great time in Fort Wayne… it was the best place that I played during my career.  We had a great group of guys that really enjoyed being at the ballpark every day.  

Have you heard about the Wizards renaming the team to the Fort Wayne TinCaps (in honor of Johnny Appleseed)? Any thoughts on that?

I just heard about the change in the name and it is a little bit of a disappointment probably for anyone that has ever donned a Wizards uniform but probably a very good business decision for the front office of the team as they move into the new park and try and establish a new identity.  For me the name Wizards and Fort Wayne will always be linked together and I still vividly remember the “Amazing Baseball” slogan that was a constant during my tenure in Fort Wayne.  TinCaps will definately take some getting used to..

Tell me more about the 1 Dream Foundation and how others can be involved.

The 1 Dream Foundation is a non-profit organization that I started about 18 months ago.  It helps provide educational opportunities to disadvantaged students from throughout the world.  Currently our focus is just on basketball playing students, but hopefully in the years to come we can attract students from various sports. 

Tom Mott with Kids at the 1Dream Foundation

My desire to help the less fortunate actually began during my career with the Minnesota Twins.  As with all Major League Baseball teams, players from Latin America are very well represented yet are often ill prepared socially for life in America.  I made it a point during my career to actively try and help these young players by showing an interest in their cultures and language and trying to help them adjust to life in America.  There are so many 16 or 17 year old kids that have arrived in the USA with no family, friends or money and I tried to provide them with a little guidance and mentoring. 

So now I’ve just changed focus to doing the same thing with basketball playing kids and it’s been a great endeavor so far.  We spend close to $10,000 per student per year, and donations are our lifeblood so if people want to help they can email me: tmott@1dreamfoundation.com.

Thanks for taking the time to offer your candid thoughts and reflections. Best of luck to you in your future endeavors and thanks for being a part of our history!

[photos are courtesy of Tom Mott]