By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
Matt Walbeck lives in Fair Oaks, California and has participated in the Sacramento MSBL since 2017. Matt was drafted in the eighth round of 1987 MLB draft by Chicago Cubs. Went on to play 17 years professionally, including 11 in the MLB. His Major League teams include the Cubs (‘93), Twins (‘94-‘96), Tigers (‘97, ‘02, ‘03), Angels (‘98-‘00) and Phillies (‘01). He was also the third base coach for Texas Rangers in ‘08. He managed for Tigers farm system ‘04-’07, was the Pirates farm system manager in ‘09-’10 and the Braves farm system manager in ‘11.
‘As a catcher myself I admired Thurman Munson and what he brought to the game,” said Matt. “My favorite player to play alongside was Kirby Puckett, who was real leader and a great person. As far as someone I was most impressed with it has to be Ken Griffey, Jr. He was the total package.”
Even with the top of the line coaching in his career, I was surprised at Matt’s answer when asked who his most influential coach was. “That’s easy. My high school coach, Don Graf.”
Is there a funny incident in his pro career that sticks out? “The time I was catching against the Orioles and Albert Belle was struck by a pitched ball and he refused to go to first base until his manager made him. He has three home runs that day and wanted his 4th badly. https://youtu.be/lYDBFAFOqC8
What keeps Matt busy these days? “I own and operate Walbeck Baseball Academy including about 130 players who train with us ranging from five to 65 years old. I host three or four, 45-minute Zoom training sessions six days a week, so I’m either holding a baseball or bat every day and watching players perform drills from their homes while helping them with instruction.
I love baseball, live and dream about it pretty much all the time, and have done so since I was five. Yes, a body in motion tends to keep in motion.”
“I really enjoy he camaraderie of my teammates on my MSBL team. I haven’t participated in any MSBL tournaments yet but hope to get there soon.” I have a feeling Matt won’t have a problem hooking up with a tournament team!