Sidearm Stories: Developing Off-Field Talent

By Carlos Verde

TORONTO —The Intercounty Baseball League has a long history of preparing promising Ontario ballplayers for the next level, whether that be collegiate, minor league or major league baseball.

But seated in Christie Pits’ rustic press box-cum-team office, the fresh-faced student running gameday operations for the Toronto Maple Leafs is hoping his off-field experience in the league will serve as a catapult to the professional ranks.

At 20, Jeremy Margles is a sport management student at Brock University — and at an age when his classmates are hustling to earn internships, he is managing a team of Leafs interns.

"This is real life experience, a lot different than sitting in a classroom and listening to professors," admits Margles, who started with the Leafs as a volunteer in 2022. "Every single game, I learn one or two new things that will apply either at school or in future roles.

His current post with Toronto — still owned by the estate of Jack Dominico — is an expansive one.

"I have seven, eight of my own game-day staff that I had to recruit," he explains. "We get 400, 500 fans per game, (and) they rely on us for the PA system, the walk-up music (and) live Pointstreak scoring.

"It's an incredible role that's helping me gain valuable experience."

Following a winter of tumult for the Leafs — the departures of Damon Topolie, Roger Lajoie and later Ryan Eakin left holes in all facets of the organization — the newly-minted gameday operations manager faced the exciting yet daunting prospect of recruiting an entire gameday staff.

Margles went to work, connecting with various colleges to try and build out his team.

"A few reached out via the league website over the winter, (and) once we got into February and March, we still had a few positions including PA announcer," he reflects. "I sent an email to the College of Sport Media, received six responses and found our guy Trevor Fitzpatrick who's done a great job."

A number of volunteers from Humber College's Sport Management program rounded out his team, and the Leafs improbably had a full complement on opening day.

Beyond this summer — and likely the next, as he plans to return in 2024 before his final year at Brock — Margles is focused on kickstarting a career in professional baseball.

"I still have a few years left in school, and at 20 years old I've got a long road in front of me," he admits. "But I definitely want to work in baseball, whether it be a major- or minor-league team.

"Showing up to the field every day for work in that setting is something I really look forward to."

Until such time as the Blue Jays, Vancouver Canadians — or if the stars align, a ball club south of the border — come calling, however, Jeremy Margles will happily continue developing his off-field game at Christie Pits.