Former Pioneer Chris Sidick ’05 still going strong with Washington Wild Things

Chris Sidick ’05 is in no hurry to leave the Washington Wild Things.

Even when he had a chance to sign with the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres a few years ago, Sidick knew his part-time job with the Wild Things was his best option.

“This is what’s best for me,” he says. “I’ve met so many guys in the Frontier League who play organized ball and they always talk about what a business it is. By staying with the Wild Things I’ve been able to build my business while living at home. It has worked out very well.”
In some ways, it has been almost too perfect.
While Sidick has been starring for the Wild Things at Consol Energy Park since he graduated from Marietta, he has also been preparing for life after baseball … sort of. Sidick is equally proud of the work he has been doing with Cside Sports Academy, his 3-year-old baseball training facility that began in his parents' garage in Cecil, Pa.
“I never really thought about teaching anyone the basics of baseball, but in the summer of 2007 the Wild Things opened a baseball academy, and since I was a local player they asked me to be an instructor,” Sidick says. “It only lasted for a few months, but I got the idea that this could really work.”

By the Numbers

AVG: .285
G: 497
AB: 1876
R: 359
H: 535
2B: 74
3B: 49
HR: 46
RBI: 216
BB: 289

Sidick actually started Cside out of necessity. With a passion to keep playing baseball four months out of the year he couldn’t find an employer willing to give him a job for the other eight.
“I was a local guy and everyone loved that I played for the Wild Things and I had a degree from Marietta College, but I couldn’t find anyone to hire me because they knew I was going to leave to play baseball,” Sidick says.
So he employed himself, and for eight months a year he runs Cside in a 15,000 square foot facility in Washington County, Pa.
What started as a few Little League and high school players coming to his parents’ home for lessons has blossomed to 150 lessons a week during his peak season of January to May.
Sidick has hired three additional instructors and he also works with some of the universities in the Washington area.
He has also welcomed former Marietta players, including former Major Leaguer Matt DeSalvo ’03 and current San Diego Padres minor leaguer Mike DeMark ’06 to work as instructors.
“It has been great having guys like that come here and help,” says Sidick, who has been nominated for the 2010 Young Entrepreneur awardin Pennsylvania. “I think what I have here has become THE place in this area for the best baseball instruction. When I first started I went to my main competitor to see what he does. He had seven cages lined up in a row. I decided to do one huge agility area and have just two cages. My field is my marketing pull. I’m one of a kind around here.”
By October 2011, he hopes to open a new $2 million, 26,000-square-foot building next to the Meadows Casino in Washington, Pa.
“Right now, I don’t make any money doing this. I put everything back into the business,” Sidick says. “I’m working 10 to 15 hours a day every day right now, but I know it’s going to be worth it. Everything I have is paid for and when I’m done playing baseball this is how I’m going to make a living. I love this job.”
The 27-year-old Sidick is eligible to play three more seasons in the Frontier league thanks to a recent rule change. He is the league’s most seasoned veteran and needless to say, he has racked up a few records along the way.
In 2010, Sidick set league career records for runs (359) and total bases (845), while adding to his existing league records for games (497), at-bats (1875), hits (535), triples (49) and walks (289).
If he makes the team again this summer he should add two more Frontier League records to his resume: Hit by pitch (he needs two more to reach 54) and sacrifice bunts (he needs two more to reach 51).
Sidick, a two-time All-American at Marietta, became the first Wild Thing to play all nine positions in the field in a single game, including pitching for one-third of an inning, on Sept. 1, 2010 at Lake Erie.
Last year, his sixth in the league, Sidick tied for third in the league with five triples and was named a starter for the league All-Star game but did not play due to an injury.
What many Marietta College or Washington Wild Things fans don’t realize is Sidick almost never signed with the team.
“When I came out of college I wanted to play Arena Football and I got a contract with the Pittsburgh River Rats,” says Sidick, who starred for the Marietta football team for four seasons. “Someone from the Wild Things called me about playing for them and I told them I could play for a few weeks, but then I’d be leaving to play football. But I went there and started playing and I really like the environment and I never left.”
And he may never leave. At least notuntil the Frontier League tells him he has to.