Columbia University Medical Center

Research Tech Moonlights for the Yankees

His desk at the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center looks a little like the merchandise concession at Yankee Stadium. He has also heard the line (from the movie “Ghostbusters) “you know, you don’t act like a scientist,” so often, it’s posted on his Twitter page (@rick7rozay).

That’s because by day, Rick Rausch, 34, is a research worker in the laboratory of Berrie Center Co-Director Rudy Leibel. His projects include the reprogramming of mice and human somatic cells to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) used to create disease-specific stem cells. He is also responsible for genotyping all of the experimental animals used to study obesity and type 2 diabetes.

But at night, Rick sits in a booth at Yankee Stadium with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, the radio voices of the New York Yankees (on WFAN), providing statistics, MLB news updates, scores, player info—and anything else the broadcasters might need during the course of each game, including assisting with the producing and engineering of the broadcast.

rick-rauch“I prepare all sorts of information pertinent to the game on a daily basis for both the English and Spanish broadcasts,” said Rick, a baseball player himself growing up, through his college years at the University of Connecticut, where he earned a degree in ecology and evolutionary biology in 2004.  “For example, I create spreadsheets before each game of each player on both teams and his career batting statistics versus the pitchers of the other team. I’m also there, listening to the broadcast the entire time, so if they’re talking about something relative to the game, I can just look it up, write it down, and they’ll use it on the air.”

To be sure, a day in the life of Rick Rausch is unusually full, albeit long; He’s at the Berrie Center before 8 a.m.–having walked there from Yankee Stadium (about 1.5 miles from the Bronx to the Russ Berrie Pavilion) where he parks his car each morning (He has a space in the Yankees parking lot.) He leaves the Berrie Center at 4 p.m., walks back to Yankee Stadium, and prepares for a 7 p.m. ballgame. He’s back at home in New Jersey by midnight.

“It’s definitely an 18-hour day and it starts all over again in the morning,” said Rick, who has been a research technician at Columbia for the last 10 years and doing stats for Yankees radio for the last 10 seasons (including all the postseason games and the 2009 World Series Championship). “I still really enjoy what I do.  After all these years, both jobs are still fun, rewarding, and interesting.”

At the Berrie Center, he is considered “an outstanding technician, both in the lab and in the handling of animals. Sort of a mouse whisperer,” said Dr. Leibel, who is very happy that Rick works two jobs. “He is an accomplished athlete himself. When I watch the Yankees games on TV, I half expect to see Rick in the on deck circle.”

Rick grew up in Connecticut (he has five sisters and a brother) with a passion for science and sports, especially baseball as a huge Yankees fan. The family had season tickets to see the Yankees and Rick recalls going to games “all of the time” with his father and brother. “Even in the late 80s and early 90s when they played at the old Yankee Stadium and weren’t that good, we would go and enjoy the games,” he said.

As a boy, he was not obsessed by sports stats, as many young enthusiasts are, but always loved the atmosphere of sporting events. He developed a deep love and appreciation of the game of baseball and its history. When he moved to Manhattan after college, “it was a lot easier to go to Yankees games, so I went every day,” Rick recalled.

When he met someone who introduced him to the broadcasters at Yankees radio, he volunteered to help out in the booth for every game—and the rest is now part of Rick Rausch and Yankees radio history. (Before Rick, the Yanks didn’t have anyone doing stats on a regular basis.)  He has since completed various “Sabermetrics” and “Math in Sports” college courses to further expand and improve his work. In the fall, he will join the broadcasters of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, providing stats and other information for his second season.

“I am very fortunate to be doing two jobs that I love,” said Rick, a quiet and easy going guy and a good sport. And even though the work he does as a scientist at the Berrie Center is important, “People are more impressed that I work for the Yankees in professional sports. My father and my grandfather still get excited when they hear me mentioned on the air or see me on the field with the players.”

If Rick (very much a free agent at present) ever had to make a choice between the two jobs, “my preference would be that he continue to play for the Berrie Center,” said Dr. Leibel.

This story originally appeared here on the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center website.