ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Mike Sandoval is a man enjoying his first World Series in person. As a Tampa Bay Rays athletic trainer, the Raton High, and New Mexico State University graduate has one of the best seats in the house.
He is also earning his keep. “I’m actually on the bench with the team, treatment with the players so. Took on a lot more responsibility this year with this COVID thing going on, also doing the infectious control prevention coordinator, compliance officer, athletic trainer, contact tracer.”
Sandoval has the exact same job as his buddy and NMSU grad, Ron Porterfield. Porterfield is on the other side, doing the job with the Los Angeles Dodgers. “What are the odds of two games from the same state and the same college, making it to the World Series, in the same year, doing the same job, with two different teams?” asked Sandoval.
The situation is unique. Porterfield once worked for the Tampa Bay Rays and went to his first World Series with the team back in 2008. “They’re my boys,” said Porterfield. “I love those guys so much. I respect them. Tampa was so good to me, you know, just the ownership and the front office, the people there, but man I want to beat them. This is not a lie. it’s cutthroat. We start that game man and they’re the frienemy.”
Porterfield was instrumental in getting Sandoval a shot in Tampa. Sandoval started his career working in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. He got the call up to the big leagues in 2001. He worked 11 years for the Pirates major league team before new management came in and cleaned house. After that, Sandoval moved back to his college hometown of Las Cruces where he still lives during the offseason.
It wasn’t long before he got an opportunity with the Rays. It’s been a dream come true for Sandoval, who has been enjoying the perks of being in the league. His favorite moment came during the ALCS. “Seeing the Yankees pack up and go home was the best,” said Sandoval. Sandoval went on to say that the only thing that can top that is beating the Dodgers and winning a World Series ring.