“The first time he was in the gym he would take ground ball drills, he just wanted to win everything”
That's how Lou Petrucci remembers Steven Matz.
“His work ethic and his attitude towards the game and his teammates, you knew that baseball was his passion,” Petrucci remembered.
It's been six years since he last coaches the Mets starting pitcher at Ward Melville High School in East Setauket.
“God gave him the gift, he got the golden arm, golden left arm," he said. "He knows what he has, and he understands how to make it better.”
Matz began lessons at the age of 10 with former MLB pitcher Neal Heaton, also a left hander. He exploded onto the scene his junior season. One year later, he was named Long Island Player of the Year and given the Yastremksi Award for Suffolk County.
“Steve was all set to go to Coastal Carolina, and we talked about it one day in the batting cages, we had practice at 7 am and he was still out there practicing," Petrucci remembered. "I said Steve what are you doing? He said, Coach you don’t realize, Coastal Carolina thinks they’re getting a pitcher, I'm going to show them I can play first base too.”
Matz never went to Coastal Carolina, but was drafted in the second round by the Mets.
“It’s a dream come true for any coach to see his player realize his dream,” Petrucci said. “It’s a one in a million shot to get drafted, and then a million more things had to happen for him to get to the big leagues.”
And on June 28, 2015, he did just that and put on one of the best overall debuts in recent history. He got the win and went 3-3 with four RBIs.
“Steve is in the hands of people who are like him, they’ve dedicated their whole lives to baseball,” Petrucci said. "Look at terry Collins, 45 years and he's finally getting to the World Series. Steven did it in 90 days, now is that fair, no, but is it a great dichotomy that these two guys are in the moment together, certainly is,”
Petrucci couldn't be more proud that it's with the hometown team.
“I think that’s why the Mets fans gravitate towards him, he is one of all of us and that’s what’s so exciting,” he smiled.
As he sits and watches the World Series with the entire Mets family, he thinks about what Steven has given him.
“I think he taught not only me, but all the Three Village community dreams can come true,” Petrucci said.