Matlow Says Baycats Still Team To Beat

Baycats GM/Manager Bullish On Team’s Future

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Jeffrey Reed, Editor, LondonOntarioSports.com

If you’re searching for a poster boy for bleeding Barrie Baycats blue, then look no further than the club’s new general manager and bench boss Josh Matlow.

There are many backstories to Matlow’s allegiance to the Baycats ballclub, but none speak as loudly as a decision he made on the eve of the club’s first Intercounty Baseball League championship victory in 2005.

As Barrie’s starting left fielder on that team – the first of seven IBL championship squads since the team’s charter season in 2001 – Matlow faced a big decision: stick with the club and help them clinch the Jack and Lynne Dominico Trophy, or rejoin his teammates with the Canisius College Griffins in Buffalo, N.Y.

Josh Matlow

“We were a game away from winning our first IBL championship,” recalled Matlow, “but I was supposed to return to Canisius for a mandatory players’ meeting. I thought it would be OK to play one more game with Barrie. I called my coach and said, I need to be here to help win a championship. But he told me, ‘You had better be here for this meeting.’

“Well, I missed that meeting, collected an RBI in the ninth inning of our championship game but it was the end of my career at Canisius,” said Matlow. “It was a shame how it unfolded, but I would do it over 100 times knowing we would win the IBL championship. And I have the ring to prove it. It was about loyalty. A lot of players wouldn’t have done it. But it was my only choice.”

And just like that, the Thornhill native now living in Innisfil with his wife, Sasha, and their 7-month-old daughter, Jasmine, became a Barrie Baycat for life. But it wasn’t a continual story. After suiting up with the Baycats in 2005-06, and 2008-09, the 35-year-old entrepreneur took some time away from the game to establish a business career.

Matlow is owner of SeatGIANT, an online market place connecting sports and concert ticket buyers and sellers across North America. That company, like most others, has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. But Matlow is digging deeply into his baseball roots to ride out the storm, just as he is doing during the genesis of his new role with the Baycats ballclub.

New Era Of Baycats Baseball

2005 Barrie Baycats, IBL champs, with Josh Matlow (front row, fourth from left). Photo: Barrie Baycats.

On January 6, the Baycats announced that Matlow would fill the GM and manager shoes left vacant by the retiring Angus Roy, an IBL legend who wore the Baycats uniform for 17 seasons. Named one of the IBL’s Top 100 Players of the past century, the former all-star hurler was the winning pitcher and Matlow’s teammate during that historic championship victory in 2005. Roy would go on to guide the Baycats dynasty to six straight championships during the past six seasons.

 

“I truly believe we’re not only going to compete for the championship in 2021, but we are going to be the team to beat for many more years.” – Barrie Baycats GM & Manager Josh Matlow

 

But in Matlow, the Baycats knew they had their man to lead them successfully into a new era of Baycats baseball.

“Josh certainly fits our search criteria … (and) through (his) skills, efforts and abilities, we look forward to the continued success of our team,” said Chris Gariepy of the Baycats’ ownership group.

“For me, it’s about being a part of not only baseball but the rich history of the IBL and the Baycats family,” Matlow said upon accepting his new post.

Before joining Canisius College during the 2005 season, Matlow played two seasons of baseball at Vaughan Secondary School, and played for the Ontario Blue Jays, and Hamilton Astros of the Connie Mack League. In 2002, the Toronto Sun listed him as one of the Top 50 Ontario high school players.

In 2005 as a 5’8”, 180-pound outfielder, Matlow played in 36 games for the Griffins and ranked fourth in team hitting with a .291 average to go along with eight doubles, a triple, a home run and 23 RBIs. He struck out just 19 times in 117 at-bats, and had 10 multiple-hit games.

In addition to his four seasons as a Baycats outfielder, Matlow played internationally, with the Tel Aviv Lightning in Israel in 2007, and then in Adelaide, Australia.

But home is where Matlow’s heart is. So, he took up roots in Innisfil, and eventually returned to the Baycats as a volunteer in the club’s social media department. He said, “At the time, I didn’t have baseball in my life, so there was a void. But I returned, and it was a great fit.”

The Baycats think the same about their new GM and field boss. So do the loyal Baycats fans, who took to social media to applaud the move and to welcome back one of their heroes.

Baycats celebrate 2019 IBL championship. Photo: Facebook.

“When it was announced that Angus would be stepping down, the club asked me if I knew anyone who would step in as GM and coach, and I said they should ask some of the players who have been around for years. Then they asked me – said I would be a perfect fit. I understood the winning culture of the franchise and what it takes to win. It was very humbling and very exciting,” Matlow said.

Shortly after Matlow took his new posts, the IBL announced the cancellation of the 2020 season. That would have been a hell of a way for any new GM and manager to begin in his new roles, let alone the new man in charge of a dynasty with six-straight championships. The pressure, on paper, is enormous.

But Matlow remains steady in his new roles while not mincing his words about the Baycats’ future when some around the IBL have sounded the death toll for the club’s run of championship titles.

“I truly believe we’re not only going to compete for the championship in 2021, but we are going to be the team to beat for many more years,” he said.

“If the season was to begin today, our roster (click here) would remain as posted. A lot of guys have left, some have retired, some asked for trades to be closer to home. So we have a new team.

“But we try to keep local – try our best to keep connected to the local youth baseball pipeline with the guys coming up from junior ball,” Matlow explained. “We still have a great team, a great foundation, but we’re getting younger, stronger and faster. Youth is on our side, including some great young pitchers.”

IBL commissioner John Kastner presents Baycats’ Brad Bissell with Jack and Lynne Dominico Trophy. Photo: IBL Twitter.

Meanwhile, the Baycats have remained engaged with the community during the pandemic. Beginning with a Family Day event in February, the Baycats have staged autograph signings with the likes of infielder Ryan Rijo and outfielder Branfy Infante, photo opportunities with the Jack and Lynne Dominico Trophy, and awareness campaign participation with the Walk A Mile In Her Shoes fundraiser for Women and Children’s Shelter of Barrie.

As Matlow rebuilds the Baycats, he’s doing the same with SeatGIANT. He said, “It’s at a standstill. We have some local events, but it’s very slow. And that’s a shame because it’s such a recession-proof industry. Everyone wants to go watch their favourite team play, or go to a concert when their favourite artist is in town. But it’s a pandemic. It’s a once-in-a-century thing right now.”

With the IBL at a standstill this season, Matlow also remains optimistic about the league’s future.

“The league has never been in a better position, and I’m excited for the future of Baycats baseball,” Matlow said.

The Baycats, too, are bullish on the potential their new GM and manager brings to the future of the ballclub.

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Jeffrey Reed has covered the Intercounty Baseball League since 1980 as a broadcast, print and new media reporter. Founder of the IBL media relations office in 1994, Reed is a former pitcher and third base coach with the London Majors. Contact him at jeff@londonontariosports.com.

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office https://www.JeffreyReedReporting.com established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and https://londonontariogolf.com. Sports journalist since 1980.

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