April 30, 2013
Written by Chelsea White
Athletic Communications Student Intern
Matt Halloran is a junior with the Gopher Baseball program. As a sophomore, Halloran was named a third-team All-Big Ten selection and an Academic All-Big Ten selection. This season, Halloran has split time at catcher and played in 33 games and has boasted 17 RBI and 11 runs scored. Matt followed his his father, Mike's footsteps as he also played for the maroon and gold and was an All-Big Ten selection. Matt played for his dad through his high school team, Eden Prairie. Here's a short question/answer session from Matt.
Q: There is a strong Eden Prairie connection with the Minnesota baseball program, describe that reoccurring relationship.
A: My Dad was a former coach. He also played for John and Rob in the 80s so he kind of used the same game plan that they do. My dad did a lot of similar things that John did because he learned from him, so it is almost like the players are already ready for the Minnesota system. Rob knows and trusts my dad so Rob knew that he was going to develop players that can play at the next level. I think with the numbers at Eden Prairie too, with such a large high school, there are a lot of guys to choose from. But I think having my Dad play for the Gopher program, it is the same system basically which is a huge step for a lot of guys. Rob would come watch the older players when he would come for recruiting and then see the younger guys since he is already at the games which give a lot of players a chance to get noticed.
Q: Expand more about what it was like having your dad be one of your coaches in high school.
A: It just allowed me to always have a really good coach growing up. He was always there. He taught me basically everything I know. And it just happened to be that the coaches here preach the same stuff. I have been really fortunate to have some really good coaches. Pretty much my whole life I grew up coming to Gopher baseball games. I have this picture of me when I was three years old with Dan Wilson at a pro-alumni game. And then of course my mom had to take a picture this year when he came to the Siebert Field opener.
Q: You are one of the more versatile players on the team, being a strong hitter with one of the home runs on the team, while also being a regular fielder in the lineup. Explain that flexibility.
A: I think I have always taken pride in having a strong defense and then the hitting has just always been there. This year with my hitting, with struggling as much as I am this year, I have had to take more pride in the defensive part of the game. When playing catcher you cannot bring an at bat with you out on the field so you just have to let it go and not let your defense be affected by that. The catcher is such an important position that you just have to keep playing defense and not worry about your hitting. Last year I was fortunate and had a really good year at the plate but I have always had the mindset that I am a defensive catcher first because you cannot have a good team without a good catcher.
Q: As one of the leading catchers on the team, what are your personal strategies of how you like to control the pace and play of the game?
A; When I call a game, I try to go to the pitcher's strengths before I go to the hitter's weaknesses. We have a lot of versatile pitchers on the team and I feel that I encourage them while they are pitching their game and helping their strengths is usually what I try to do.
Q: You were a big athlete in high school, playing also hockey and football. How did baseball end up standing out for you to pursue for collegiate play?
A: I was always better at baseball, but I always loved playing hockey just as much. And then football was just a sport to play in the fall. I loved playing hockey and I was a goalie- the goalie and catcher positions kind of go hand-in-hand. But baseball I just loved doing it, and I think it was something that I was better at so it ended up being the path I took. On my spare time I have not been able to play as much of the other sports as I have wanted to, but every once in a while I will put the pads on and go out and play some pond hockey; it is a lot of fun.
Q: Playing at Siebert there has already been weather issues with the outdoor field. How has that affected the team rhythm and overall player ability in your opinion?
A: The stadium is kind of better than I think any of us anticipated I think helps the team deal with the weather a little bit more. You cannot control the weather. We know that and we talk about it all the time. We try to control what we can control. Like you can't control the other team, if they make a good play good for them- tip the cap. If the weather is bad you can't control that you just deal with what you have. I think our coaches do a really good job of giving us that mentality of not being able to control it but you can control what you do with it once you get on the field. So I think we are pretty comfortable now and I think it showed that opening weekend when we won the series and it was pretty bad weather. Ohio State, they have always been playing outside but they did not look comfortable at all. Ultimately I think our coaches are the ones who do a good job of preparing us for that.