I headed back to the Snowbird Baseball Classic to watch some college ball yesterday and was able to watch 3 games. I was going to just sit and watch a game before I found a story. As I was setting up my chair and getting situated at the South Dakota State Jackrabbits game against the Georgetown Hoyas, someone asked me if I was the “Baseball Buddha”, I said I was. My ego got the best of me in that moment also. I asked her if she followed me, she looked at me kind of confused and said “no but I can read”. She pointed to my shirt and hat, I laughed at myself… she then yelled, “Come on Gumby”, she startled me a little at her intensity but I loved her enthusiasm for the players and the game.
Lori, 48, mother of Aaron Machbitz the starting 1st baseman for South Dakota State (a SDSU senior who will be an athletic trainer when he graduates) was willing to talk to me to get some exposure for the Jackrabbits baseball program. I explained to her what I do and that I am more interested in her story than what is happening on the field. She jokingly told me she didn’t want to talk to me then. I looked at her to see if she was serious. She smiled and then looked at her husband Marc whom she has been married to for the past 24 years, he shrugged his shoulders as if to say “why not”. Again I got my story with very little effort. As we spoke Aaron was batting and her intensity picked up. Her foot started shaking, I didn’t realize it was Aaron at the time. “They pitched him inside and he turned on it and grounded to shortstop. They have him scouted to death. He hasn’t seen a fastball in years,” Lori said in frustration. I apologized to her for talking as Aaron batted, she laughed and said it was her fault. She should have been up and walking around, she isn’t used to just sitting and watching the game.
Love of baseball started at an early age for Lori. She grew up in an all male family and they moved around a lot. She was born in Sacramento, her family moved to St. Louis when she was two, New Orleans after the 4th grade, and during 8th grade moved back to Northern California. She told me that she and her brothers were San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals fans, depending on where they were living. Now she is a hard core Texas Rangers fanatic! She goes to 20-25 games a year with her husband and always has it on the TV, or radio, when not at the game. That is on top of the games that they see Aaron play with SDSU. She said, “last year it was about 25 games and also traveled up to Milwaukee to see him play for the Lakeshore Chinooks of the Northwood’s League.” (one of the top summer leagues for college underclassmen).
She graduated high school and went to San Jose State where she got her degree. She owned and operated 2 women’s shoes stores and also taught 2nd grade for a few years. Her passion is her kids and decided to become a full time mom when her daughter Rachel was in the 4th grade and Aaron in 2nd. Marc retired from Chevron, where he worked for 30 years, and they decided to move to Dallas after figuring out where the best schools, sports and overall opportunities lie for their kids. Lori had to get up while we were talking. She was getting nervous and started pacing behind the bleachers. On occasion I would hear her yell, “Come on Jacks” or “Lets go three three”. Lori was blaming her not walking around on Georgetown coming back from a 4-0 deficit. As all this was playing out, Aaron made a excellent play at first base, catching a line shot, then tagging the bag at first to double up the runner. Lori came over to tell me that “Aaron was just as good as Mitch Moreland (Texas Rangers, first baseman) defensively, not quite as good with the bat “yet”, but he will be better than “Goldie” (Paul Goldschmidt, first baseman, Arizona Diamondbacks), not as good as Mike Trout (Outfielder for the LA Angels). I am realistic”, she said with a laugh.
As Lori was walking around I talked to her daughter, Rachel, who was down at the game because “its a free trip” according to her mom (she said it with a chuckle). Rachel is a senior at UT-Arlington and is set to graduate this December with a degree in Industrial Engineering. Rachel said she wasn’t as big a fan of baseball as her mom, dad or brother, but enjoys supporting the team and her families passion for it. Her mom has always supported whatever her kids wanted to do. Rachel started her own business selling comic books and art online a year ago, www.mashupcomics.com. She is very ambitious as her website states, “We are striving to become one of the first comic book and commissioned art retailers online. Not only do we sell back issue comics, we are also proud to offer unique commissioned art. As members of the “Nerd” culture to which many films, comics and media forms are created for, Mash Up Comics and Art will be able to reach consumers on their level, with their level of excitement and commitment.” Please check out her site, I don’t think you will be disappointed!
Lori and I talked about what it was like when Aaron played elite level baseball in Texas. Since Aaron was passionate about the game, Lori encouraged him and made sure that he had the correct pitching and hitting coaches. “To succeed at all the levels most parents did that”‘ she said. “It was tough because you had to be realistic of where you put your money.” Lori put it towards the camps, showcases, and had him on 2-3 teams at a time. Lots of teams would travel to Georgia or Florida for the different tournaments and it cost a lot of money. She didn’t do that much preferring to stay around Texas to save money. Lori said, “she would have done more of that type of stuff but she’s just very grateful that she got to spend a lot of time with Aaron growing up because of baseball.” Lori says, “you must play a lot to be a good baseball player, it is a smart man’s game.” She says that “Aaron is a real student of the game”. Some pro scouts have taken a look at Aaron and he wants to move on to the next level after college. I was impressed with what I saw and I remember him when he played for the Chinooks last summer in Milwaukee. He went 2 for 4 against the Hoyas in a losing effort, 7-4. His dad told me, “he also went 2 for 4 in the morning game they played against Maine”.
I got a real kick out of Lori’s intensity, her passion for her kids and the game of baseball. I also want to mention that the other South Dakota State fans were some of the friendliest I have come across. I definitely will be keeping an eye on Aaron and the Jacks!
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