By David Pavlak
Facilities manager at Rider by day, scorekeeper by night. This is the life being led by Mike Maconi, who plays two roles almost on a daily basis during baseball season.
At Rider, Maconi is the director of operations for Facilities Management, overseeing the general day-to-day operations throughout the Lawrenceville campus.
At night, Maconi sits in the press box at Citizens Bank Park watching every Philadelphia Phillies home game, recording the action as the official scorer.
How did this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity present itself to Maconi? All it took was a good friend and a bit of good fortune.
“It’s all luck,” Maconi said in a phone interview Tuesday. “I am good friends with Tom McCarthy (now play-by-play announcer for the Phillies) because we were fraternity brothers. He called me out of the blue in 1997 because he was working with the Trenton Thunder at the time and he told me, ‘Mike, the Thunder is looking for an official scorer, are you interested?’ I knew the rules of baseball, but I never scored a game. With Tom’s help I went over to the Thunder and they hired me right on the spot.”
After McCarthy’s departure from the Thunder organization, he landed a position with the Phillies, and once again presented Maconi with an amazing opportunity.
“Tom gives me another call in 2005 and says ‘Mike, the Phillies are looking for an official scorer, are you interested?’ My answer was ‘yes,’ of course. I talked to someone in the baseball operations office and they asked me to score a game, which I did, and after that they hired me.”
Being a staff member of the Phillies has its perks. One moment Maconi will never forget came when Phillies ace Roy Halladay pitched a no-hitter in October last year.
“Scoring Halladay’s no-hitter in the playoffs was one of the biggest moments so far,” Maconi said. “I had never seen a no-hitter and it was a piece of history that I was able to be a part of in an obscure way, which was pretty cool. There was also an 18-inning game that took five hours to complete one year.
“When you’re the official scorer, you can’t turn your head,” he said. “You have to watch every play. I have to stay focused and keep my eye on the game at all times.”
Scoring the three World Series home games in 2008 against the Tampa Bay Rays was another moment of Maconi’s official scorer career that he will never forget.
“My biggest highlight was scoring the three 2008 World Series home games when the Phils beat Tampa Bay,” Maconi said. “Especially the final game that started on a Monday, was suspended due to rain and was unable to be completed until Wednesday.”
There is one aspect of the job Maconi does not enjoy, however
“Traffic and driving down I-95 is a pain,” he said.
Upon his arrival to the stadium, Maconi has a few items of business that need to be taken care of to ensure a smooth game day.
“I get there at least an hour before the game, and when I get there I grab the opening day line-up and the stat sheet,” Maconi said. “I then put the lineups for both teams in the scorebook. There is also a form I have to fill out and send to the Elias Sports Bureau that is the official box score for every game with my signature on the bottom, which makes it official. I document the home runs and stolen bases for each player. I usually do about 15 minutes worth of paperwork and just get everything ready to go before the first pitch.”
Sometimes, though, there is a questionable play, and it is up to Maconi to decide how to score it. Does the batter get a base hit, or does the play go down as a fielding error? This decision comes down to Maconi, and he has all the resources available to him in the press box.
“I have a TV to my left where I can review any close play as many times as I want, which makes my job easier,” he said. “I will end up watching it two, three or four times to make sure I make the right call.”
Though the job may be demanding at times, Maconi wouldn’t trade it for anything.
“I look at it this way,” Maconi said. “There are 30 teams in Major League Baseball. Each team only has two official scorers, so there are really only 60 of us in the world. I think I’m pretty lucky to be one of those 60.”
Maconi also takes an interest in the success of the men’s baseball team, along with its head coach, Barry Davis who Maconi says deserves a lot of credit for the team’s continuous success.
“You got a team that is 8-1 in the MAAC conference. Are you sure you wouldn’t want to talk to Coach Davis instead of me?” Maconi joked.
Though the days may seem long, Maconi knows he is living an opportunity many would give their jobs up for in an instant. With the passion Maconi exudes in all his projects, one thing becomes clear: he is truly living the American dream.