weather icon Clear

Skye’s the limit when it comes to ex-Aviator’s philanthropy

When he was the Aviators’ center fielder in 2019, Yahoo Sports baseball writer Mike Oz wrote that “Skye Bolt is definitely the most Vegas name in baseball.” Oz was perhaps discounting Derek Vegas, a minor league catcher in the Miami Marlins’ organization, or former big league infielder Joe Stripp.

Bolt’s singular name recently was mentioned in passing on the Aviators’ Twitter account. Apparently, you can now hire him to leave holiday and other personalized greetings for loved ones and friends through social media.

Bolt said the idea for the greetings was actually his agent’s idea. They are done for a fee through a website app called Cameo. Whereas the former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz receives $750 per glad tiding, Bolt asks only $8.

“I need to hit a few more homers,” he said with a self-deprecating chuckle.

Message for a cause

Any revenue Bolt generates through Cameo will be used to purchase presents and other necessities for the kids at a boys’ ranch in Waleska, Georgia, that was founded by one of his middle school coaches. Bolt’s stepmom, Connie, has served on the board of directors at the Goshen Valley Boys Ranch for 14 years.

“It’s a place not necessarily for them to straighten their lives out (though) a few come from family backgrounds where there was abuse or drugs, or hard situations where maybe their parents passed away in an accident,” Bolt explained.

“There are so many life-changing moments. I had a very fortunate upbringing. I went to a good school and I had amenities that many kids don’t have.”

The last time Bolt was in Las Vegas, he was wearing an Oakland Athletics uniform and driving in runs against the Cleveland Indians during the revival of Big League Weekend at Las Vegas Ballpark.

A few days after the Cubs and Reds left town the following weekend, the virus hit with a vengeance.

When we talked Monday, Bolt was exercising his Labradors on the family’s picture-postcard spread that backs up to a lake near his hometown of Woodstock, an Atlanta suburb that also produced former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Braves outfielder Nick Markakis and Buff Bagwell, the five-time World Tag Team wrestling champion

What I thought would be a 10-minute conversation turned into 45. It was almost like the scene in “Bull Durham” where most of the Bulls join a conference on the pitcher’s mound between Crash Davis and “Nuke” LaLoosh and wind talking about everything except baseball.

If you’re wondering about the lyrical name that conjures images of superheroes and gods of thunder, it was actually a three-step process.

The Bolt part was a preexisting condition, said the switch-hitting outfielder. His mother Eva, a former Miss Alabama, apparently knew somebody in the entertainment business who answered to Skye. His father, Mike, just thought it was a great name for a ballplayer.

The lost season

After starring in baseball and football at Holy Innocents Episcopal School in Atlanta, Bolt played college baseball at North Carolina and was selected by the A’s in the fourth round of the June 2015 draft.

He’s something of a late bloomer. His .269 batting average as an Aviator in 2019 represents his career high. But his pop from both sides of home plate — Bolt hit the first grand slam in Las Vegas Ballpark history, clearing the deck of the swimming pool in center field — combined with his speed and defensive skills make him a valuable addition to a ballclub.

He’ll turn 27 on Jan. 15 and spoke of being at a career crossroads. Spending the COVID-shortened season at the A’s alternate training site in San Jose, California, pretty much derailed any momentum he had acquired by being called up to the majors three times during 2019 and busting his rump during spring training.

“My season was gone, it’s not like I’m going to get it back,” Bolt said. “But everybody else lost paychecks and family members.”

In retrospect, he said one of the worst things about the abbreviated season is that the A’s were scheduled to play four games in Atlanta against his hometown Braves that were canceled, preventing the kids at the boys ranch from seeing him play in person.

“That would have been great, but we’re on the (Braves’) schedule again this year,” said the ballplayer with the coolest name in the game. It was Dec. 21, the first day of winter, but Skye Bolt’s optimism and perspective on the important things in life had made it seem a bit more warm and fuzzy.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.