Cummington, MA - The windy road that leads up to where Matt White dreamed of building his dream home has a few landscaping stone businesses, but when the 29-year-old pitcher bought this 50-acre plot from his great aunt in 2003 for $50,000, he didn't think about that business. He simply couldn't get a mountaintop view any cheaper.
"I had been looking at property all over the place in the area and it was a great deal," says White, who has played less than 10 innings in the major league, but is hoping to get another shot in spring training with the Los Angeles Dodgers. "To have that kind of land for $50,000 was an outstanding deal."
Though White never got to build that dream house though, the deal is looking even better now -- much better.
After clearing four acres of land, White -- who has made $300,000 throughout his baseball career -- concluded there was so much rock, he had to get it checked out. So he called a local geologist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, who surveyed the land and told him that there could be as much as 24 million tons of mica schist rock on his property. With a market value price of $100 a ton, the raw materials could be worth more than $2 billion.
"I was floored when I heard the amount," said White, "I mean those numbers are something that I'm not used to talking about."
Although some of his teammates have already dubbed him "The Billionaire," he readily admits he's not even close.
"The land has got a lot of potential, it really does," said White, who is playing with his eighth organization and is a long shot to make the team. "However, the level that we're on right now and the way that we're selling the rock and the small business that we have, it's not a reality that these numbers right now are real."
In the year and a half that White's land has been a working quarry, they've made back the $50,000 investment, but the equipment is hardly state-of-the-art and the business has been mostly local contractors, who use the rock to build patios and steps.
"We figure the first couple years might be a wash just to be able to get organized," said White's dad Jim, who has worked in logging and construction and now manages the property. "But over a period of time, we'll be able to establish a clientele and the stone will sell itself."
When asked how much of the schist has been tapped and sold off, Jim White replies "no percent." "We haven't even scratched the surface," he said.
It’s clear that there's legitimate money to be made, but just how much is anyone's guess. Matt White's dream of building the house on the top of that hill is gone, but his dream to make the big leagues hasn't been affected by the prospect of striking it rich.
Hoping to concentrate on making the team he has been deferring business questions to his agent Herbie Zucker of Zucker Sports Management in Chicago.
"I want people to know me as Matt White, the baseball player."
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for CNBC, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His blog can be found at http://sportsbiz.cnbc.com.
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