When New York Mets rookie pitcher Steven Matz takes the mound tonight against the Chicago Cubs in Game Four of the National League Championship Series, he will have chance to do something that kids all over the world dream about: bringing the team you grew up rooting for to the championship.
With the Mets up 3-0 in the seven-game series and needing only one more win to reach their first World Series since 2000, Matz is in a unique position to be the hometown hero.
Matz grew up in Stony Brook, New York on Long Island, the heart of Mets’ country. He and his family are “huge Mets fans,” his father Ron, a service manager at a local Jeep dealership, told The Daily News before the beginning of the 2015 season.
The fandom runs deep, according to Ron.
“My father is a huge Mets fan, and it’s just special just to be 45 minutes to an hour away from the field,” Ron Matz told CBS New York.
In the days before his July major league debut, Matz told The New York Post that pitching for the Mets was “a dream come true.”
“Growing up watching Endy Chavez make that catch over the wall [in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS] is probably the most vibrant memory I have,” Matz told the Post, referencing the last time that the Mets were in the playoffs.
Matz was 15 at the time and just starting to receive buzz from professional scouts.
Here’s Matz talking about growing up a Mets fan before a start in September:
Matz had a long and somewhat ponderous journey to the majors. The first professional offer Matz received was to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but Matz reportedly held out in the hopes of becoming a Met.
The dream came true when he was drafted by the organisation 72nd overall in August 2009. The following spring however, he tore his elbow ligament, forcing him to get Tommy John surgery. He didn’t throw a professional pitch until 2012.
Since debuting for the Kingsport Mets in 2012, Matz has moved efficiently through minor league system. In 2014, the Mets named Matz the “Organizational Pitcher of The Year.”
After opening the 2015 season with the Mets’ Triple A affiliate, Matz made his major league debut on June 28th, pitching 7 2/3 innings of 2-run ball. Perhaps more astonishingly, Matz went 3 for 3 with four RBIs, setting a record for hits and RBIs for a pitcher’s MLB debut.
Matz’s grandfather was on hand to see the action. Here he is reacting to Matz second RBI hit:
Matz is the first pitcher from Long Island to make his MLB debut with the Mets since Ray Searage in 1981.
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