Summer baseball: Collegians hoping to bring new things in 2019

Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
The Boulder Collegians will continue in the Rocky Mountain Baseball League in 2019 and as they do, general manager Matt Jensen hopes to continue and expand the game day experience. Jensen recently attended the Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar to gather more ideas.

Arguing against Matt Jensen’s passion for baseball — and even more so his passion for making the Boulder Collegians unique — is a failed endeavor.

The Collegians general manager for the past five years now, Jensen has tried to keep the summer collegiate team on the upper tier of Colorado’s local options while also trying to balance a full-time job and a family.

It hasn’t been easy, but he always considers himself someone who will think outside the box to bring an entertainment aspect to the events at Scott Carpenter Park.

That’s why, with the help of some new associates, Jensen was able to attend the Minor League Baseball Promotion Seminar in September and took it one step further by venturing out to the MLB winter meetings in Las Vegas at the beginning of December.

Unconventional, yes. But Jensen said both trips were fruitful in manufacturing ideas, connecting with people at those levels and even trying to bring the history of the original Collegians alive.

“When we first started the Collegians, I never thought I’d be sitting in the same rooms with those guys, or even thinking about it, but now we’re in there not only learning from them but also holding our own in conversations of how we structure our organization,” Jensen said in a phone interview on Friday. “I think that’s pretty cool.

“We’ve decided that the Collegians are something where we create special events throughout the entire summer for people to join in on, and during those events there just happens to be a baseball game going on.”

This past summer, the Collegians broadcast almost all of their games online, and the play-by-play team of Jake Shapiro and Patrick Lyons were instrumental in planting the idea of attending both the MILB and MLB events. Both Shapiro and Lyons write for local internet sites that cover the Colorado Rockies, and Lyons has invested plenty of his career in covering minor league baseball.

Lyons expressed to Jensen a desire to expand his role with the Collegians, to which Jensen certainly complied.

“Patrick has been learning a lot about what it is like to run the Collegians, and that’s been good for me because most of it has just been in my head,” Jensen said. “It’s been good to get a structured plan out there on a lot of different things.”

The September Minor League Promotional Seminar was everything Jensen hoped for, he said.

“Once we saw the itinerary, it was a no-brainer,” Jensen said. “There were seminars in connecting with the community, promotions, in-game entertainment … you name it. In minor league baseball, the game is almost secondary to the pageantry that goes on, because players filter in and out of there every year. We’re like that, in that we do have almost a brand new roster year in and year out … you sell the people on other things besides the baseball. That said, the baseball is still high quality.

“We were looking for one idea to make the trip a success, and we ended up getting an entire notebook of ideas. I think people will notice that during our season.”

While continuing to build the 2019 roster this offseason, Jensen is still trying to figure out just how to connect the dots and transform the Collegians into the kind of organization that was known nationwide back in the days of Bauldie Moschetti.

It seems the hang-up has been just not being able to convince the right people that the Collegians are more than just another summer ball club.

But with his trip to the MLB Winter Meetings, where Jensen got to spend a few minutes with current Chicago Cubs manager and former Collegians player Joe Maddon, there is some hope that through showing the historical significance of the organization from potential first-hand accounts of the likes of Maddon and others, ideas can gain some traction.

In more than one instance in interviews, Maddon has referred to his time with the Boulder Collegians quite fondly.

“We want to connect our present history with the past history of this team, because it was obviously rich not only for baseball history in Colorado but also in the entire country,” Jensen said. “We want people to know about that, whether that comes through some sort of secondary event like a banquet, or whatever.

“We were able to discuss our passion for our organization to quite a few people, and there’s something to be said about that.”

The Collegians will still play in the Rocky Mountain Baseball League in 2019, with a berth in the National Baseball Congress World Series on the line.

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