By Fred Liggett
Nearly everyone has a story of when they picked up a baseball to imitate a major league player. With dreams dancing in their head they make a pitch that results in a strikeout to give their team a big win. For one Lee’s Summit native this dream came true as he made his major league debut in 2018.
Lee’s Summit West grad Matt Hall has been working his way through the Detroit Tigers minor league system since being drafted in the summer of 2015. Hall finally got the call to the major leagues in September and immediately went to work to help the Tigers finish the season on a high note.
The 2018 season was a memorable one for Matt whether he was pitching in the Eastern League or the Major Leagues. Hall, a left-hander, was named Eastern League Pitcher of the month in June while a member of the Erie Sea Wolves. Hall’s body of work was so good he was awarded MiLB pitcher of the year in the Detroit Tigers organization. Matt will be given the award this coming spring.
How did Matt learn of his promotion to the major leagues this season? Upon finishing his last game with Erie, Hall and a couple of team mates were called into the manager’s office. The manager looked at the men and said “you guys are going up”.
Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 is the date that will forever live in the memory of Matt Hall and many of his family members. On that night Hall made his Major League debut for the Detroit Tigers in a game against AL Central division rival Cleveland. There were over 30,000 fans piled into Cleveland’s Progressive Field to see the Indians clinch a division title. Hall describes the moment “Surreal.” “A moment I will never forget.” Matt recalls hearing the stadium public address announcer with a deep voice announcing it was Hall’s MLB debut. It was then that the center field bullpen door opened. Hall said, “I looked up and soaked it all in.” Upon taking the pitching mound the first two batters Hall faced were Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion.
Like many area youth, Matt grew up a big Kansas City Royals fan. Yes, Hall did get to pitch against his hometown team before the 2018 season ended. In two innings of work Hall gave up just one hit, no runs and struck out two hitters. After the game Hall is happy to say he spoke with Royals’ OF Alex Gordon and Catcher Salvador Perez. Gordon being Hall’s favorite Royals player.
Now that the off season is here Hall plans to spend time with his family until late January. There is a family vacation planned to Cabo over Christmas. While back in his home town, Hall is working out at the Inside Edge indoor facility in Lee’s Summit. Matt was at one time a Mac-N-Seitz player while growing up playing games around town. Mac-N-Seitz is the baseball facility owned by ex-KC Royals Mike Macfarlane and Kevin Seitzer. Hall, a 2012 LS West graduate, keeps in touch with his high school coach Jay Meyer and at least once a week visits with his college coach at Missouri State University. Matt looks forward to spending time with his ex-teammates and friends in place of always using a phone.
On Jan. 27th Hall heads to Lakeland, Florida for spring training. Matt plans to work hard during the off season to be ready to compete for a job. Hall’s best pitch is his curve ball, then he blends in with a fastball and change up to get big league hitters out.
Matt credits his family first for helping him reach his lifelong dream. He thanks his parents for his expensive lessons, childhood gear, travel each week for games and even having a pitching coach for him. The now 25-year-old pitcher lists patience, determination, motivation and trusting the process for the reasons for his success.
Matt Hall has made his successful pitch to reach the major leagues. Hall’s accomplishment means a lot to him and his family, but also makes a statement to the next area youth who picks up a baseball at a young age to begin working on his dream to reach the major leagues.