Previously published in the 2017 Ouachitonian yearbook.
Even though he hung up his Tiger jersey for the summer, John Franklin Matros, a junior accounting and finance major from Arkadelphia, did not take a break from the game of baseball. While his teammates went their separate ways for the summer, Matros, #31 pitcher for the Tigers, packed up and flew to Bremerton, Wash.
Bremerton, home of the West Coast League (WCL), was also home to Matros from late May to August 8 as he played for the Kitsap Bluejackets, one of the top three (out of 12) WCL branches.
Matros did quite a bit of preparation before finding himself in such a prestigious program. At the age of five, he began playing baseball. In high school, he was coached by his father, Arkadelphia Coach Brant Matros, and played on a back-to-back state championship team. Regardless of their success, Matros claimed that his experience playing for the Badgers was great because he was able to play with his best friends and learn from those older than him.
This aid continued into college as Matros transitioned from pitching for a 4A varsity baseball team to Div. II college ball. His hard work and dedication to learning from his coaches and teammates paid off as he earned the GAC (Great All Conference) Freshman of the Year award after the Tigers’ 2015 season. While Matros admitted that this award was a great honor, he humbly pointed the focus back to one of the reasons behind his success.
“My freshman year, Connor Eller, who plays for the Blue Jays now, he really took me under his wing and just taught me a lot of things,” said Matros. “Taught me how to mentally prepare.”
After such a successful first season playing for the Tigers, Matros continued to challenge himself and work hard throughout his sophomore year, preparing himself for the summer of a lifetime on the other side of the country.
“My sophomore year, I didn’t have that good of a season, so I wanted to go out there and get some experience,” Matros explained. “And getting to see the West Coast. I’ve always loved the West Coast.”
As for life in Washington, Matros lived and breathed baseball. With games every single day, the Bluejackets had only nine off days throughout the entire course of the summer. A typical day for Matros involved waking up and eating breakfast, going to the gym and working out, lunch and then finally arriving at the field where the team would stay from 3-10 p.m. Of course, there was always the chance that the plans would be altered.
“It would be in spurts. We’d have a home series for three games in a row, and then we’d have an away series out of town, and we’d just live in hotels,” Matros said.
During his time in Washington, not only was Matros fond of his new teammates and his roommate, Luke, he was also given the opportunity to live with a host family and experience life with them.
“We got to build a relationship with all of the Crawfords, and that was fun. They were really good to us,” Matros said.
Just a few months before his third Tiger baseball season, Matros admitted that as for his aspirations for his career in baseball, he didn’t like to look too far in the future. But for this year, he set his expectations high.
“I’m expecting a lot from myself,” Matros said. “We’ll see.”
By Addy Goodman
Photo by Andy Henderson
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