Last month, Matt Holliday made a decision to keep his family, and himself, in Stillwater.
A year ago, the former Stillwater High standout signed a contract to join the Colorado Rockies for the remainder of the 2018 season. It could have been his last stint as a Major League Baseball player.
Holliday is now in Stillwater, working for his older brother. He was announced as a volunteer assistant coach with the Oklahoma State baseball program.
His brother, Josh, is the Cowboys’ coach who just finished his seventh year at the helm this spring. Matt talked about the job and his decision to join the staff Thursday on Triple Play Sports’ radio segment “Dugout Thursday” with Tom Dirato.
“As the summer goes on and I’m trying to figure out what the next chapter of my life will look like, you can’t leave Josh hanging when he says, ‘Hey is this something you’re interested in? Do you wanna do this?” Matt said. “You can’t leave him hanging. I can’t say, ‘Let me see.’ It was one of those deals that’s kind of time sensitive and you’ve got to make a decision one way or the other. It felt like something I wanted to do.
“Like I said, I still think I can play in the Major Leagues and help a team, but nothing has come my way and so I’m prepared to move on to something I’m passionate about, which is baseball, and helping young guys reach their potential, both personally and the baseball dream. It’s a good fit for me. I still get lots of time to spend with my kids. I still get to feel that competitive spirit and try to reach a goal with a team, but also get to spend time with my family, so it seemed like a good fit.”
Matt said he is excited to be in the same dugout as his brother. He was seen in the Cowboys’ dugout this past spring, but now he will be there as a coach.
“If you go back to when I was a freshman and he was a senior, we played together,” Matt said. “Last year, I was in the dugout some, just hanging out. This will be a cool experience to be in the competition and the lead-up to it and all of the meetings and preparation that we will go through to try and give our team the best chance possible. It will be fun to get to see that side of our relationship. So far, this coaching staff has been fun to be around. We’ve got a good group. It’s fun. We’re anxious to get the kids here.”
He added that he’s sure his parents will be proud to see their sons coaching together this year. Of course, Tom Holliday – father to Matt and Josh – is a former OSU baseball coach.
“For my dad to see Josh and I both back coaching at Oklahoma State – sort of the path he paved for us and where we grew up and how many games Josh and I both watched my dad in that dugout, coach young kids, trying to help kids and help young men reach their dreams – he’ll be excited,” Matt said. “I’m sure it will a surreal moment for mom and dad to see Josh and I coaching at Oklahoma State. I don’t know if it will make them feel old or how excited they’ll feel about it, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Matt and Dirato continued to talk about the game of baseball, including the high number of strikeouts, and other things during the interview. Dirato also asked Matt what type of coach he will be, and the former Pioneer great said he hopes to teach players what’s been taught to him from such greats at Tony La Russa.
“Late in my career, I had young players that I got a chance to invest in, and not coach per se because you never want to discount what the coaches are actually doing, but sort of a a player with wisdom getting a chance to coach the younger players,” Matt said. “They’re asking questions and you talk to them about hitting, or you get to help them with what you’ve learned. Obviously, with coaching – what you’ve been taught, you’re passing it along.
“I’d like to think I’ll be a coach who’s taken 15 years of Major League experience, a player who’s played with tons of great players who know the game and played for a ton of great coaches and managers. I think my job as a coach is to take those things and pass them down to younger players. That will be my goal – offer them what I’ve been offered.”
He continued, saying the OSU players may recognize him for his professional career accolades, but he’ll need to earn their trust to become a better coach.
“Over time, they feel more comfortable with you as a person, not what you’ve done or anything they’ve heard or seen,” Matt said. “So, my job as a coach or a mentor is to get to know them, and then once you build relationships, people are more willing to listen to your opinion on what can help them. Typically as humans, we’re not that excited to listen to people we don’t know very well or don’t trust.”
Lastly, Matt said he’s excited about the upcoming fall season and being a part of the Cowboys’ program.
“This whole thing is a different perspective,” Matt said. “Josh and I are very in sync on our hitting philosophies and what we think about hitting. I’m just excited to get around these kids. They’re starting to show up, and it’s an exciting time around town, university and the athletic department.”