“I always knew baseball wouldn’t last forever”: Former Blue Jay Dalton Pompey on his new career with the Hamilton Police Service

The longtime outfielder and pinch runner talks trading in his Jays jersey for a police uniform, how professional sport taught him to act under pressure and his old team’s playoff prospects

"I always knew baseball wouldn't last forever": Former Blue Jay Dalton Pompey on his new career with the Hamilton Police Service

After making a good living stealing bases as a Jays player, Dalton Pompey has traded in one blue uniform for another. The 30-year-old Mississauga native is now a member of the Hamilton Police Service. Pompey, an outfielder and pinch runner who played a key role in the Jays’ 2015 and 2016 playoff runs, applied for a job with the police force last October, just weeks after his final pro game. With six months of training under his belt, the former athlete started patrolling on his own in late July. We asked Pompey about his career pivot and the parallels between playing ball and policing.

Many kids dream of being baseball players; others want to be police officers. Was it always your plan to become both?
During my playing days, it occurred to me that baseball wouldn’t last forever and that eventually I’d have to think of life after sport. Working in emergency services was always in the back of my mind—either becoming a fireman, paramedic or police officer—because I like helping people. At baseball games, there were always security officers keeping the order and making sure people didn’t jump from the stands. Near the end of my career, I started asking them if they enjoyed their work. Many of them loved their jobs; they liked making a difference and keeping people safe. Hearing about the sense of satisfaction they felt pushed me toward policing.

You retired from professional baseball in 2022 after a 12-year career. Did you intend to jump into a new one right away?
Somewhat. I spent the last year of my career playing with the Guelph Royals of the Intercounty Baseball League in Southern Ontario. Around that time, I was quoted in the Toronto Star saying that I wanted to work in emergency services. In the early fall, Hamilton’s deputy police chief saw the story and reached out to me to see if I was interested in joining the force. I started the application process two days later and was hired in January.

You were known around the MLB as a top-notch base stealer—surely you didn’t have to prove your physical fitness.
There are a lot of steps to the hiring process. I went through human resources for a general interview. Then I passed a psychological test where I had to answer more than 1,000 questions about how I think. I also had to undergo the necessary background checks. Then came the fitness test.

And… you passed?
Yes, but I’m built for speed, not distance. My colleagues joke that if I’m in a foot pursuit, I have to catch the person within 100 feet. Otherwise, I’ll have to use the police car. But yes, I was hired not long after the fitness test and a meeting with a superintendent. I was accepted into the three-month course at the Ontario Police College, graduated and started taking assignments with a training officer after that. I’ve now been patrolling on my own for a few weeks.

What’s the best part of the job so far?
Driving the police car is fun. I’m not originally from Hamilton—I grew up in Mississauga and I live in Liberty Village—so I like cruising around the area to discover the hangout spots. So far, Plank Restobar is my favourite because I really enjoy their rooftop patio. When I’m in the car, people recognize me. I get lot of waves and occasionally someone will congratulate me on my change of career.

What have you found challenging about the job so far?
The unpredictability. Every call is different. We’ll be briefed about what’s happening but, when we get there, the situation can be completely different. I’ve seen people who are in crisis and I’m not always sure whether we should bring them to the hospital or leave them to go voluntarily. When I’m on the fence about what I should do, I call my sergeant. I tell him what I think I should do and he’s teaching me to go with my gut. Often, in those situations, your gut is right. 


Do you find that years of professional sport have helped you learn how to think and act under pressure?
For sure. Another lesson I’ve learned from sport is that it’s okay to ask things when you don’t know, even when you are a professional. In sports, it can be humbling when that happens. You tell yourself, “I’m in the Major Leagues, I should be able to do this or that,” but when you are constantly learning in this job, you can’t be expected to know everything. I have seen officers with 20 years of experience who will get a second opinion of something, so I’m not afraid to ask questions.

Do you have any other mentors at work?
One of my close friends is a police officer in York Region, and we’ve known each other since we were 12-year-old kids. He told me once when I was still playing baseball that I had the right skillset for policing. I asked him to be straight up with me about whether or not it was a good career, because we all see in the media that police officers deal with all kinds of challenging cases. He told me that as long as I’m honest with people, every day is gratifying. He was right: you might not get a pat on the back every day, but you know when you go home at night that you did your best, and maybe made a difference in somebody’s life. 

Between the shifts, I suppose you’re following the Jays’ season. What are their chances of making the playoffs?
I see them making the playoffs. I know a lot of their current members. When I played, they were coming up through the minor leagues and they have a lot of fight in them. It hurt the team when Bo Bichette got injured because he was their best player. But if he can come back, Vladdy and Springer pick up their games, and Manoah can pitch better, a wild card spot is definitely within reach. The AL East is always tough, though—I did not expect the Orioles to be as good as they are.

What’s your favourite memory from your time as a Blue Jay?
Our 2015 and 2016 playoff runs. Being Canadian, I knew what a big deal it was—we hadn’t made it that far in more than 20 years. The Rogers Centre was packed and nobody ever sat down, and we drew so much energy from the fans. Bautista’s home run in Game 5 against Texas was probably the most memorable moment I’ll ever have in baseball.  


It could be hard for some people to leave such an exciting career behind. Have you found it difficult to move on?
Not really. I’m grateful for the people I met and the opportunities that I had on the diamond. The average career in professional baseball lasts just three years. When I was drafted, I told myself that I’d be happy to play for at least four years, and I ended up playing three times longer. The Major League Baseball Players Association really drives home the point that there is a life after baseball, and I’ve had a lot of teammates encourage me to save money and plan for a new career in my thirties and forties. Now, I’m onto new things, like being a police officer and enjoying other parts of my life.

Will you be returning to the diamond anytime soon?
Hopefully. Eventually, I’d like to coach and share the knowledge I’ve accumulated over time with kids. For now, lots of my time goes towards learning this new career. Every day so far has been exciting and rewarding.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


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