July 10th, 2011

Catching Up With Matt Lawson

Matt and me outside the 'Riders hotel in Springfield

Matt and me outside the 'Riders hotel in Springfield

I’m sure you remember Matt Lawson.  He was a 2010 Midseason Texas League All-Star and manned second base for the  RoughRiders while hitting .277 in 76 games with Frisco with seven home runs and 34 RBIs.

As I talked about some on the broadcast last night, a year ago yesterday, Lawson, along with Justin Smoak, Josh Lueke, and Blake Beavan were all shipped to Seattle in exchange for Cliff Lee.  Just like this year, the ‘Riders were in Springfield (Lawson’s hometown) playing the Cardinals when the trade happened.

“Law Dog,” as many teammates referred to him, was assigned to West Tennessee following the trade where he played for the Diamond Jaxx and hit .319 in 42 games.  However, after a successful showing in the prospect driven Arizona Fall League, Lawson was traded again just days before spring training.  This time he was dealt to Cleveland for another big leaguer, Aaron Laffey.

Lawson broke camp with Double-A Akron in the Indians’ system and played in 30 games for the Aeros before voluntarily retiring from baseball on June 14.

Matty now resides with his wife Mallory in Springfield, Mo. where he plans on finishing his schooling at Missouri State University where he played collegiately, and will also work as a volunteer assistant with his college coach, Keith Guttin.

Safe to say his retirement saddened many of us who got to know him well and rooted for him to make it to the bigs. However, if you know Matty well, you also know that he’s a clear thinker who wouldn’t make a decision of that proportion without really thinking it through. Matt was, and still is, one of my favorite players I’ve ever had the chance to cover.  I had the opportunity last year to share some meals with him on the road and learned more about him off the field. It’s relationship I’ll always value.

I had a hard time finding someone last season who was more genuine and worked harder day in and day out than Matt.  Let me be the first to say that I don’t see everything, and that there are plenty of hard working players throughout the minors.  However, from what I observed, Matt was a hard one to top.

I had the chance to grab lunch with Matty in Springfield the other day and then, in true minor league fashion, interview him in the Panera parking lot (classy).  In my conversation with him that played the other night on our pre-game show, what struck me the most was when we mentioned that contemplating retirement was a “battle of identities.”  The conflict between the guy who wanted to keep playing and chasing a dream, with that of someone who has a passion to coach and enter the second phase of his professional career.

After eating lunch with Matt, I was grateful to see that he is genuinely happy.  He’s excited to spend more time at home with Mallory and to experience professional coaching for the first time.

I don’t know how often our paths will cross in the future (at least twice a year when the ‘Riders travel to Springfield), but I do know that if I had a son and was looking for a coach, I can’t think of many better than Matty.

One Step Away

Leonys Martin is with the Triple-A Round Rock Express. He has not appeared in their game tonight with the Memphis Redbirds, but he is in uniform. Check out the former RoughRider in his new uniform. Thanks, as always, to fantastic RoughRider photographer James Garner for the image.

It’s a new color scheme, a bit closer to the Rangers’ look. Pretty cool stuff.

Also, check out both Martin and Guilder Rodriguez, the other new member of the Express.

- Brian

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