The sign of a smooth transition is if not many people even know it happened.
That was the case when part ownership of the Terriers switched hands in April.
After taking over a share of the program from then part owner Mike McCarthy in the fall of 2015, Mike and Nicole Tevlin sold their stake to long-time The Baseball Zone employee Kevin Horton this spring.
“McCarthy was interested in moving on,” Nicole said about how they initially got involved. “Joe, our youngest son, was saying now that he’s in his working life, the Terriers taught him how to behave in different situations. We believed in it.”
Another aspect of the decision that made it easy was the Tevlin’s connection to The Baseball Zone, the home of the Terriers.
“We have been supporters of The Baseball Zone since our sons played Little League,” Mike said. “The Terriers were interested in Luke and Joe, but we didn’t know anything about the next level. Now it wasn’t about just The Baseball Zone, we saw what the Terriers were doing for our kids.”
After hanging around the organization and listening to the baseball minds of Rick Johnston (Peterborough, Ont.), Dean Dicenzo (Hamilton, Ont.), Paul Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) and others, the Tevlins liked what they heard and felt they could contribute given their astute business background.
So they jumped on board.
As the years passed and both their sons made their way through the college ranks (Luke, still a Terriers coach, after attending Binghamton University and Joe, who roomed with Seattle Mariners reliever Matt Brash (Kingston, Ont.) at Niagara) and into the working world, they stayed committed to the program.
As is the case with everything in life, it came time to move on.
They had been thinking of off loading their ownership responsibilities a few years ago, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything.
“We couldn’t abandon it then,” Mike said. “We had to get it back on track. When we knew the tough part was past us and it was up and firing, we felt like it was a good time to ease Kevin in and make it a happy deal for everyone.”
For Horton, the dream of helping run a baseball organization has been on his mind since the time he realized the big leagues was out of reach. So when the opportunity presented itself, it was too good to pass up.
Horton comes into his new position with an extensive background that began with humble beginnings.
He started at The Baseball Zone in 2004 doing mainly general maintenance work like grooming the turf, setting up machines, occasional coaching and keeping the facility clean.
Through a strong work ethic, a love for the game and a supportive family that includes four children that serve as his inspiration, he quickly moved his way up into the role of Director of Administration with the Terriers.
Now, he can add owner to his resume.
“Mike and Nicole are two of the most kind people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting,” Horton said. “Besides an increased workload, that they’ve helped with, it has been an easy transition. They'll always be part of the TBZ and the Terriers family and I know I can always count on them for an honest opinion. Plus having Rick Johnston, as a friend and now business partner, made this process very special for me.”
Mike and Nicole admit running an elite program is no easy task, comparing it to running a multi-national company like they once did when they made the Two-Bite Brownies famous. But they have no doubt Horton is the man for the job.
“You have say 70 to 75 people that are intimately associated with you and have needs that are quite specific to each of their kids,” Mike said. “Kevin is in tune with the parents. It was nice for us to think he could come in with fresh blood and energy and knowing him and RJ (Johnston) work well together, it was the perfect scenario.”
Part of running anything is keeping tabs on the present with eyes on the future, something Horton has already been thinking about.
“Five years from now, I hope to see Terriers continuing our successful and storied history, building on our strong reputation for player development and college placements through professionalism and integrity,” Horton said. “I’d like to open another TBZ location in the GTA and we’ll get there the only way I know how, with passion and hard work.”
As for the Tevlins, well, they’re finally ready to retire.
“We don’t regret it for one minute, we met so many cool people,” Mike said. “We’re grateful we had a chance to be involved but I’m looking forward to playing some golf, fishing and doing some travelling.”
With Horton now at the helm, retirement should be another smooth transition.
This story was originally published on the Canadian Baseball Network