Baseball: Making a Major League decisionMitch and Chris Boldt watched him grow from a boy to a young man. They saw him mature, deal with injuries and noticed the way he treated people. Now strangers are visiting their home and calling Red Wing senior Ryan Boldt a “special baseball player,” but the parents know it goes beyond athletic ability.
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
Mitch and Chris Boldt watched him grow from a boy to a young man.
They saw him mature, deal with injuries and noticed the way he treated people.
Now strangers are visiting their home and calling Red Wing senior Ryan Boldt a “special baseball player,” but the parents know it goes beyond athletic ability.
“What Ryan has done with his God-given talent and his work ethic is his gift, and our gift is his humility and his character,” Ryan’s mother Chris Boldt said. “I think it’s gratifying for us as parents that it’s important to people.”
Parenting a high-school student is tough enough without the added pressure of deciding if your son should become a professional baseball player or attend college, but Mitch and Chris Boldt said they are ready for the serious decisions.
“It’s an opportunity and you can’t let it change your life,” Mitch said.
But it is a life-changing event, they acknowledge.
The Boldts are balancing the business side of baseball with a tempered excitement and a healthy dose of responsibility. Ryan has a scholarship to play for the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, but the family can’t overlook Major League Baseball’s 2013 First-Year Player Draft June 6-8.
Meetings with scouts and advisers take place once to four times a week. Only the Baltimore Orioles haven’t contacted Ryan or the family: The 29 other Major League teams have sent a representative or seen Ryan play.
The intensity of those visits may seem intrusive to some, but the Boldts say it is all part of the process.
“People are apologetic, but this is the journey,” Chris said.
“It’s easier to understand the meetings as … a mini job interview,” Mitch, 52, said. “If you do go through the draft and accept an offer, you’re accepting a job that you’ve auditioned for on the field and also interviewed for. You wouldn’t expect to get a job anywhere else without a job interview.”
The parents and Ryan hope to select an adviser soon — one of the final and most important business decisions before the draft. This involves trusting a virtual stranger with the well-being of your child and his decisions in the future, the Boldts said, and they considering a dozen groups, ranging from the Boras Corporation, headed by super-agent Scott Boras, down to local representatives.
The draft became more of a reality after the Boldts witnessed Ryan handle the rigors of last summer’s schedule and his success in the International Baseball Federation’s World Championships. Team USA won, and Boldt was the MVP of the Perfect Game All-American Classic.
Chris now has a sense of calm should he skip playing for the Cornhuskers.
“He was totally on his own and he did just fine and it proved to him and to us that he’s perfectly content and perfectly mature to be able to handle it — and that’s a critical issue,” she said. “There are kids who certainly have the ability to do it, but emotionally and psychologically they’re not ready.”
Still, the college route is the most comfortable for his parents: Mitch and Chris have experienced sending three kids to college.
Ryan, 18, follows three siblings, each with success in sports. Steven, 26, was an All-American baseball player with Division III Viterbo University; KC, 23, held the single-season home-run record at Valparaiso University in Indiana; Lauren, 20, was second in kills on the University of Mary (Bismarck, N.D.) volleyball team last fall.
“Sports have been a way of life for our family and the kids have learned a lot from it,” Chris, 51, said. “It’s fun to watch them in their journey of sports and academics and everything else.”
That family dynamic and seeing his siblings succeed keeps Ryan humble. Mitch and Chris said they have created an environment that holds Ryan accountable while still keeping him loose.
“You know if you have a 0-for day or you do something stupid, you’re going to take a little ribbing for it, but you’ve got a support system that’s right there,” said Mitch, a self-employed construction worker and former chair of the Red Wing School Board.
Mitch and Chris also are trying to keep Ryan’s senior year in Red Wing an enjoyable one. The meetings come and go but having fun in your senior year is priceless.
“It’s as normal a senior year as you can possibly have under the circumstances,” Mitch said.
Without his parents, Ryan said he wouldn’t be able to keep track of everything. Their presence frees him to focus on school and being a kid. Chris joked that she’s acted as his personal assistant.
“Their organization and just setting up meeting times and just knowing that they’ll ask questions that I don’t think of,” Ryan said, “and just knowing that they have my best interests in mind.”
Ryan’s journey created incredible experiences, but Mitch and Chris just hope their children enjoy what they’re doing and stay true to who they are.
“We’ve heard the term ‘special player’ frequently,” Chris said. “How do you define a special player from a parent perspective versus a special player from a ballplayer perspective?”
“In a general sense, it’s no different than having the other kids complete school and get a job that they like,” Mitch added. “Ultimately in life, you want to have success at what you do at the highest level you can do it, whatever it happens to be.”
Mitch and Chris said they are blessed with all that their kids have accomplished. Ryan’s siblings joke he’s the “golden child,” but each of them gets equal attention at the end of the day.
“They recognize that what Ryan has accomplished is important to him,” Chris said. “They’ll be proud of whatever path he takes, and we certainly are.”