by Nate Lowery
Boise's boys of summer will take to the field this evening as the Boise Hawks launch their 2014 season with a 7:15 p.m. first pitch scheduled for Memorial Stadium.
Through the many seasons, hundreds of athletes have come and gone through the Hawks' roster, and few have been hometown heroes. But Joe Martarano, a 2013 graduate of Fruitland High School, and current linebacker for the Boise State Broncos, is generating a ton of local buzz.
“What we’ve seen in the past is that there hasn’t been too much of an increase in fan attendance with local kids,” Hawks President and General Manager Todd Rahr told Boise Weekly. “I do think, however, with Martarano being with the Boise State football team, he might be able to change that.”
Martarano passed up a $100,000 contract with the Philadelphia Phillies organization in 2013 in order to be a part of the Boise State football team. But with the departure of former Boise State football coach Chris Petersen at the end of last season, some circumstances changed, allowing Martarano to pursue his baseball opportunities during the summer months.
And indeed, after being drafted by the Chicago Cubs, the Hawks Major League Baseball affiliate, Martarano was afforded such an opportunity not far from Boise State's blue turf.
“Obviously, with him being from Boise, and being a part of the football team, I could see the Cubs organization working something out with him to have him play for us,” Rahr said.
Rahr told BW that he thinks Martarano will also do a short stint in Mesa, Ariz., with the Cub’s rookie league team in order to transition back into baseball after spending the past year away from the diamond.
““These athletes are under a tremendous amount of pressure,” Rahr said.
With the possibility of Martarano signing, and Cub’s first round draft pick Brian Schwaber already in Boise, Rahr thinks the Hawks have a great chance to win the Pacific Northwest League title.
“We just need to get past the Vancouver Canadians and maybe we can put some flags up in the outfield,” Rahr said.
Again, the Hawks will begin play today against the Tri-City Dust Devils at Memorial Stadium.