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But All Matt White Wants to Do Is Play Ball
April 09, 2007
He's sitting on a rock pile that's valued at $2.4 billion. That's an estimated $100 million more than Mark Cuban's net worth and almost 10 times more than A-Rod's record contract
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April 09, 2007

But All Matt White Wants To Do Is Play Ball

He's sitting on a rock pile that's valued at $2.4 billion. That's an estimated $100 million more than Mark Cuban's net worth and almost 10 times more than A-Rod's record contract

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Jim and June White were received warmly by the neighboring fans in Yankee Stadium. "They gave Matt a standing ovation," his mother says. "I don't know if it's because he gave up so many runs."

White allowed six in two thirds of an inning. He recalls the walk to Derek Jeter as clearly as the hanger that the Cardinals' So Taguchi poked for a two-run single in White's only career start, with Washington in 2005. But then, when you've faced only 53 hitters in the Show, you recollect almost every pitch. In hopes of building more big league memories, White has pitched four years of winter ball in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela and flown to Japan to audition for the Orix BlueWave in 2005. ("They said I was too short and my fastball wasn't fast enough," says the 6-foot, 200-pound White.) If he finds that something extra--maybe with his sidearm release--then maybe he can, as Honeycutt says, separate himself. He can put down roots.

He couldn't put down roots on those 50 acres, which was the plan when he bought them from Josephine Howes in 2003. (She died three years later.) Jim, a self-employed logger by profession, was trying to build a road to the top of the property and kept excavating perfect, flat sheets of rock. "We didn't know what it was," Matt says of the mica schist, often known in landscaping as Goshen stone after the quarry on the other side of the hill from White's land. "But we thought it was pretty good." In 2005 he started a business, Swift River Stone, to sell the rock used to build patios and hearths. Last year, as a Phillies' minor leaguer, White even brought some samples to spring training to drum up business from his more deep-pocketed teammates. "I'm like, 'Whatever. It's a rock. Great,'" recalls Wolf, a former Phillie.

White didn't know how much stone he owned until last August, when Peter Panish, an adjunct professor from the UMass department of geosciences, whom he had hired to survey the land, told him it was rich with mica schist. White was thunderstruck. He says, "I'm driving to the park in Scranton when I got the call, and my teammate, Jeremy Cummings, starts punching the calculator on his cellphone and whispering, 'How much do you sell that stuff for?'"

The quarry was empty last week while Jim, June and Matt's grandfather, Lincoln Howes, visited Vero Beach. Jim planned to start excavating again this week. Given the start-up costs--heavy equipment, diesel fuel--the "baseball billionaire" has barely made any money in his other career. "Takes a couple of years to get it set up," says Jim, who won't let his son handle rocks because they might pinch the fingers on his pitching hand. "Barely scratched the surface."

Matt White only hopes the same can be said of the lode of potential in his left arm.

Fantasy Value
Matt White's windfall, on paper at least, would place him in some rich company:
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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