Written by Wendy Reardon Price
Sports writer Clarkston News
Nicholas Cowan had no plan when he moved to Florida, but he’s now a visiting clubhouse assistant for the Tampa Bay Rays Major League Baseball.
Kwan, a 2009 Clarkston High School graduate, shared that when he moved to Tampa, Florida, from his hometown 11 years ago, he worked at Google on athletic jobs.
“They had two bat holes,” he said. “I went there without thinking I would get the job. I did an interview, saw the stadium, did a few practice games in the spring and then got one of the bat jobs on the visiting side.”
He added that it was just random.
I was 20 years old. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life,” Kwan shared. “It seemed like something that would be great to work at the ball park and be around a baseball game.”
Kwan grew up around baseball. He started with T-Ball and finished playing with Clarkston Varsity Baseball when he graduated.
“The only thing I knew I liked was the direction of working in the baseball industry,” he said.
Kwan has been the visiting ball/bat boy for seven years and the experience has been unforgettable.
“I’ve met every hero I’ve ever seen growing up,” he said. “Working on the visiting side, you’ll get to know every player on every team. It was our opening day with the New York Yankees and the first person to walk through the door was Derek Jeter. I’m like, ‘Wow – we’re here.’ You have to be professional at the same time. To Florida when I’m 20 and all of a sudden I’m here.”
He added that it was interesting because in the year prior to starting work for the Rays, he only had standing room tickets for a playoff game at the Detroit Tigers.
“I remember thinking I could never even go to a regular baseball game again. It couldn’t be better than this,” Kwan said. “Then, on the next opening day in 2012, I was sitting in the boardroom with the New York Yankees. .”
Kwan shared that he got really good at the post and can sometimes be seen on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”
“It was really cool because all of my family in Michigan were turning on the TV and watching me,” he said.
During the middle of his seventh season, he was offered a promotion to his current position.
“The guy who runs the dining room and lobby got a promotion. I was offered the job. It’s a completely different perspective,” Kwan said. “I’m not in the field. You get to have more intimate relationships and get to know the guys in a different way which is really cool.”
There were six people involved in their club who take care of the entire MLB team.
“We are working there as soon as the team arrives and it could be four in the morning or five in the morning,” he said. “There we take out the equipment. We go back and prepare everything for the whole day. All the players should focus on playing. We have covered food. We have a covered laundry. We run their errands.”
“It’s an interesting world that continues at the club. I work around 80-100 hours a week. You get a good flow especially at this point in the season, you have your routine set. There are a lot of hard working people at the club.”
He added that there are a lot of memories over the past 11 years including a different time when COVID started in 2020 and there were no fans in the stadiums.
But what stands out the most are the relationships he established.
One relationship with Alex Moses, a Lake Orion graduate he met while working at the Pittsburgh Pirates during spring training.
“She was a pirate nutritionist. We got to know each other,” Kwan said. “We had no idea we had grown up next to each other. She now oversees all league meal preparations for the Baltimore Orioles, and travels with them. It was funny when I saw her on Facebook and I went to Lake Orion and I went to Clarkston.”
During the summer, he was nominated to serve in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, a tournament that will take place in Japan, Taiwan, and the United States.
“It’s wonderful,” he said. “My boss helps oversee it. I was asked to work on the World Baseball Classic. It’s hard to think of a simple Google search for sports jobs in Tampa 11 years ago, where I could work on an international baseball tournament and maybe work in Japan for a month next spring It’s so wild.”
No matter where he’s traveling, Kwan said, coming home is always special.
“When I go back to Clarkston, I see it all in flashbacks—I try to make it into high school baseball and I always have a dream about baseball,” he said. “My dad and brother are amazingly supportive. Now to be around the greatest athletes in the world is really amazing. Every time I come back to Clarkston it’s a beautiful memory. If it wasn’t for my mom signing up for T-Ball, my dad taking care of the team, and my grandfather who was a really good baseball player.” I didn’t have that passion.
“It’s interesting to think that you make a small difference in a Major League Baseball game, but I always seem to forget that until I get back to Clarkston.”