Sunday, August 15, 2010

Matt Hobbs' MU Playing Career

Photo from 2002 MU Baseball Poster
(Yes, Mr. Hardoin, as a coach he has been wearing his original jersey number, 38)

Matt Hobbs was no Roy Hobbs. More like Calvin & Hobbes.

Matt Hobbs, announced Friday as a new member of MU's coaching staff, played for Mizzou during a stretch that could be called the Great Slump in the middle of the Tim Jamieson years. After some great record-setting offensive teams of the 90's (led by Ryan Fry, Aaron Jaworowski and others), the turn of the century was not kind to Tiger Baseball. The team averaged a record of 29-26 from 2000-2002, reaching a low in Hobbs' senior year of 24-29. In '01 and '02, MU failed to make the Big 12 Tournament.

While he could strike out a lot of batters, Matt Hobbs gave up too many runs and only accumulated 13 wins in four years on the staff, with the bulk of his wins coming in his Junior year (8-5 record), when he was the leader of the pitching staff. In his senior year he struggled with inconsistency and was overshadowed by a group of young newcomers to the pitching staff, including Justin James and Travis Wendte.

Frankly, hearing the name of Matt Hobbs announced as the new pitching coach did not initially inspire excitement in me, based solely on his pitching records at MU.

My memory of him is also clouded by the fact that I recall Mr. Hobbs quite clearly as being the only Tiger player I have ever loudly heckled during a game at Simmons field.

Hobbs came in to relieve the starter in this particular game. It quickly became apparent that Hobbs had little or no control of his pitches on that afternoon. He allowed at least two runs on wild pitches in a single inning, combined with walks and hits surrendered.

After the second or third wild pitch, he ran to cover home plate, like a good pitcher will do. When the catcher came back up with the ball and tossed it to his pitcher, Hobbs looked at his catcher with a cat-that-ate-the-canary grin on his face.

From my usual seat behind home plate, I had a clear view of that grin, and I let him have it. You think it's funny that you can't find the plate? You think it's funny that you're letting down your team? Et cetera, et cetera.

I also clearly remember his reaction. He definitely heard me, since I was only a few yards from him, and I was standing up, waving my arms and yelling at the top of my lungs. As he looked at me his jaw dropped open and stared for a moment before returning to the mound.

Who knows what was going on with him in that game and in that moment? I do know that I was certainly a more volatile heckler then than I am now. So I'll give him (and myself) the benefit of the doubt.

I just had to tell that story, though, for the benefit of the current crop of Tiger pitchers, now Hobbs' apprentices.

He's not a young and cocky college pitcher anymore, but an experienced college pitching coach with a lot of really good recommendations and press clippings.
Matt Hobbs is the most hard working recruiting coach I have ever seen. I saw him while he was recruiting for San Diego. That guy showed up to every showcase, tournament and game. He was everywhere - watching everyone and everything.

Hobbs is a GRINDER. Hardest working man on the west coast, he is everywhere.

( message board)
And he will be able to put himself in the shoes of his players, even those who may be less-focused than desired.

Oh, and not only has he won 13 more games as a Tiger than his pitching-coach predecessor did, but his overall stats are no less dazzling than Tony V's were as a player.

Here's to the tradition of unspectacular players becoming successful coaches.

Matt Hobbs MU Player Bio (
• 2002: 2-3, 9.82 ERA, 18 Appearances, 3 starts, 29.1 IP, 33 SO, 21 BB

• 2001: 8-5, 4.06 ERA, 14 starts, 55 SO, 36 BB

• 2000: 2-1, 4.74 ERA, 21 Appearances, 35 SO, 19 BB

• 1999: 4 appearances, 2.2 innings

• Set a Big 12 Conference record by striking out seven consecutive batters in two games (Harris-Stowe, 3/26) and Texas Tech, 3/29)

• Helped MU set a Big 12 mark as Tigers struck out nine consecutive hitters in one game against Harris-Stowe (3/26)
• Drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 30th round of the 2001 Draft; he chose to return to the Tigers and was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 50th round of the 2002 draft
Hobbs' gem lifts Tigers (Columbia Tribune 4/22/2001)
With his team desperately needing a quality outing, Hobbs came through with one of his best performances of the season for the Tigers (24-17-1, 9-14 Big 12). The junior left hander scattered three runs on seven hits in 8 1/3 innings of work to improve to 7-3 on the year.

"Matt did a great job and kept the ball down all day and that’s what you’ve got to do against these guys," Stegall said. "He went right at guys and was ahead in the count all day and that’s why he pitched so well."

Hobbs was quick to credit his offense for putting some early runs on the board and his defense.

"All I had to do was hit the mitt," said Hobbs, who finished with seven strikeouts. "It seemed like every ball they hit was right at somebody and my defense made some incredible plays behind me."
■ Hobbs' teammates during his days as a Tiger include Tony Vitello, Luke Cassis, Travis Wendte, Garrett Broshuis, Wes Fewell, Justin James, Drew Endicott, Cody Ehlers, Mark Alexander, Jayce Tingler, Lee Laskowski, Shaun Marcum, Jon Williams, Logan Dale, Ryan Stegall, Mike and Ryan Rallo, and many others.

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