He’s one of the first people players see when they arrive at Constellation Field and often one of the last.
For the past four seasons, he has been a fixture in the Sugar Land Skeeters dugout, yet almost no one in the stands knows who he is. His name and picture do not appear in game programs or on the Skeeters’ website.
“I just fly under the radar,” said Shane Borchert, the Skeeters’ assistant trainer. “It’s like when I worked with the (Oakland) A’s. We had a sports psychologist, and he’s very famous, but people would ask who he was and he’d say, ‘Oh, I’m nobody.’ So I just kind of steal that line.”
That “nobody” is one of the most important people in the Skeeters’ clubhouse. He and head trainer Max Mahaffey shoulder much of the medical burden of the team.
Both men are outreach athletic trainers for Memorial Hermann Health System. Mahaffey has been with the team since the inaugural 2012 season. Borchert came on in 2016.
“Having Shane on board is great,” Mahaffey said. “You know he’s a veteran athletic trainer and brings a lot of knowledge, and the guys really respect what he does around the clubhouse. He’s definitely taught me several things over the last several years. I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Borchert began his career as a minor league baseball trainer 30 years ago. During his first season, two major league teams played one of the most noteworthy World Series ever.
Oakland swept the San Francisco Giants in a series that took a 10-day hiatus because of an earthquake shortly before the start of Game 3. Borchert was at that game in San Francisco with his grandfather.
“We didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “We were in the second deck behind the TV and all those guys. So, their stuff all blipped, you saw a blip and that was it. We knew the stadium was shaking but we didn’t know the extent of the damage that happened outside.
“So, the left-field bleachers, they sit there and five, 10 minutes later they get rowdy and start chanting, ‘Let’s play ball,’ but they didn’t have any idea what was happening outside. And not soon after that, word of mouth, nobody in the stadium panicked, but then the police cars started coming in in the infield and the players and their families start gathering in the field,” he said.
Prior to that, Borchert was just a kid from a small Montana town.
“When I was in junior high and high school, I was the clubhouse guy for our local minor league team, the Giants,” he said. “I would help out the trainer and I just got interested at that point. I would help him out with some simple tasks and go on from there.”
Borchert attended Western Montana College and got a degree in sports medicine. He was hired by the Giants organization and then spent six years in the
A’s farm system. He left baseball for a while but returned to it when his wife’s job brought them to the Houston area.
“When I got the job with Memorial Hermann, they knew my background and they asked me to come down and help Max out,” he said. “I had no idea about independent baseball. This was the first time I had ever seen it. I kind of joked, we all do, because you used to hear horror stories about how bad independent baseball was back in the day, right? But this is like a whole different thing. I had no idea.”
In addition to working home games with the Skeeters, Borchert also works for Katy ISD as a trainer at Tompkins High School, where his two sons attend. Ray, 17, is a senior and plays basketball. Jeff is 15 and is on the golf team.
On a typical day, Borchert and Mahaffey arrive at the stadium five hours before first pitch.
“We’ll have a couple hours of treatment. We’ll do a variety of treatments, anywhere from stretching to ultrasound to dry needling to Graston Techniques and taping, bandaging, making some protective gears, any other conditions that might come up,” Borchert said. “We’ll be working with them in different situations, whatever that may be.”
After warm-ups and batting practice, the starters return for whatever they may need – more taping, bandaging or treatments.
“Then we’ll do game coverage and then after the game we’ll come back and if there’s any new injuries we’ll look at them, evaluate them and pretty much do treatments, clean up and go home,” he said.
Sugar Land released pitcher Matt Purke.
The Skeeters are in the middle of a seven-game home stand against the New Britain Bees. The series concludes Thursday. On Friday the team hits the road for three games at the Lancaster Barnstormers and four games at the York Revolution. Sugar Land returns home Aug. 30 for three games against the High Point Rockers and three against York. Aug. 30 is postgame fireworks. Aug. 31 features a team card set giveaway.
Skeeter of the Week
Prior to Sunday’s game, Anthony Giansanti had gone 22-for-64 (.344) in his last 16 games with 11 runs, three doubles, three home runs, 10 RBIs and five stolen bases. He was tied for eighth in the Atlantic League with 23 doubles.
Atlantic League Second Half Standings
Wins – Losses – Games back
Sugar Land Skeeters 21-15-0
York Revolution 21-15-0
S. Maryland Blue Crabs 19-17-2
Lancaster Barnstormers 15-20-5.5
Long Island Ducks 19-16-0
High Point Rockers 19-18-1
New Britain Bees 15-20-4
Somerset Patriots 14-22-5.5
Skeeters 3, Blue Crabs 2
Blue Crabs 9, Skeeters 7
Blue Crabs 4, Skeeters 3
Skeeters 8, Blue Crabs 6
Skeeters 12, Bees 1
Bees 5, Skeeters 1
Bees 6, Skeeters 4