Eau Claire, WI – If you have been to an Express game this season you’ve probably seen a familiar face behind the concession stand counter: stadium operations intern Shane Ryan. Ryan comes to the Express by way of Central Michigan University where he is not only studying sport management but also plays on the baseball team. Shane has spent much of his offseason transitioning from catcher to pitcher for his third season at CMU. While his main intention was his stadium operations internship when he arrived in Eau Claire, Ryan piqued the interest of manager Dale Varsho who happened to be looking for an emergency catcher and extra arms in the bullpen.
“Word got around to Dale that I played baseball, so he talked to me and before I knew it I was filling out a contract,” said Ryan.
During home games, you can find Ryan doing both of his jobs. He does his stadium operations duties during the day which includes setting up the ballpark and getting the concession stands ready, but about an hour before game time he heads over to the locker room to change into uniform. You can often find him down in the bullpen, catching for pitchers that are warming up and chopping it up with the pitchers.
Ryan made his debut on July 9th against the Bismarck Larks and the result of his first at-bat was very fitting for this already unique story: hit-by-pitch. “I was definitely looking to be aggressive and didn’t want to walk in my first at-bat, but I guess the pitcher had other plans for me,” said Ryan while chuckling. He would end up coming around to score, leaving him with one run scored and a 1.000 on-base percentage to start his Express career.
The 21-year-old has also made an appearance on the mound which is where he hopes to be next season when he returns to CMU. It didn’t go exactly as planned, but Ryan showed good potential as he reached 91 MPH on his fastball and struck out both batters he retired.
He will continue his dual roles through the end of the season as the Express look to make a playoff push into August.