December 27, 2013

Helping the home team from the dugout

By Tressa Thomas

Four hours in and the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels remain tied at 2-2, a full 18 innings into the game. The Mariners are at bat with the bases loaded and two outs. They send their hitter to the plate, the batter surely feeling the fate of the game push down on his knuckles as he prepares for a swing. Everybody, including Mariners batboy and University of Washington alumnus Oscar Castro, is anxious. The ball is hit with a resounding crack and the Mariners score.

A throng of leaping, dancing teammates, Castro included, rushes the field, boyish grins spreading contagiously and their uncontrollable cheers culminating into a harmonious roar of victory. The Mariners win the game 3-2 at about 2 in the morning.

As a young boy Castro dreamed of the day when he would be a Mariner, adorned in that Northwest teal and navy blue. For the past five years, Castro has done just that, but not as a name in the batting lineup.  As a Mariners’ batboy during the weekend and a Boeing finance advisor during the week, his childhood daydreams seem to have become a reality.

Oscar Castro Jr with Russell Wilson

Mariners Photographer Ben VanHouten

Mariners bat boy Oscar Castro and Seahawks all-star quarterback Russell Wilson.

“Man, and it is everybody’s dream to be in my shoes,” said Castro.

Castro’s connection with both jobs began through his time at UW. During his sophomore year Castro was hired as a visitor’s side batboy, working with the visiting teams before and after the games; his tasks included preparing the bullpen, gathering snacks and cleaning the equipment.

“Whenever the team isn’t batting, I’m in the dugout helping with whatever they need. We are there to make their job easier,” said Castro.

Castro’s descriptions of his employment with the Mariners and with Boeing draw a striking resemblance to his time spent with UW’s Dream Project. As a senior at Chief Sealth High School, Castro was approached by the Dream Project in 2007 and met with a mentor who provided him with college-advising services. As a UW student Castro volunteered with the Dream Project as a mentor himself for the entirety of his college career.

“[The program] is a way to surround yourself with people who can positively influence you,” said Castro. He often reflects fondly on the Dream Project and concludes that it “instilled in me a desire to help.”

After graduating in 2011 with a degree in finance and communications, Boeing offered Castro a full-time job as a financial adviser.

Castro described his responsibilities at Boeing: “I am the engineers’ accountant. For example, when you go to the bank, an analyst will tell you where to invest money and where not to. We give them financial advice for how to run their business. Our goal is to provide them with the most accurate information in order to make the best possible decisions.”

The engineers that Castro assists develop airplane parts and the machines that manufacture these parts.

Back at the ballpark, Castro was promoted to be a home side batboy last season.

“It’s great to be on the home side. You get to see the same players every time so you feel like you are really a part of the team.” Castro added, “I feel like I am a Mariner in some ways.”

During a game the Mariners work with three batboys, two for the home side and one for the visitor’s side. Castro spends about six to eight hours on duty per game—unless they are 18-innings long and finish at 2 a.m.

After five years with the Mariners, Castro and the other batboys were invited to be in the team picture for the 2013 season.

“Though I didn’t get to be a baseball player, I’m still sitting next to one. I still made it to where I want to be. This is the experience I dreamed of,” said Castro.

—Tressa Thomas is a freshman at the University of Washington.

 

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