He has a World Series ring.
He played at every level in professional baseball — competing in practically every state — and once struck out his childhood hero during a major league game.
He represented his home country of Canada at the World Baseball Classic and won a championship in Japan.
Right-handed pitcher Scott Mathieson had an enormously interesting and varied career. When he speaks from experience, people should listen.
Baseball players for Academy at the Lakes (AATL), where Mathieson has begun his second season as the volunteer pitching coach, are the beneficiaries.
Coach Ken Akins and the Wildcat players agree — Mathieson’s words are like gold.
“He has seen it all,’’ AATL sophomore right-hander Jonny Alvarez said. “He told me to bring my arm down. Now I am throwing it faster and more accurately. I didn’t have much power in my legs and he has changed that. He knows what’s wrong and what’s right. It’s making a huge difference.’’
“I have seen so many benefits,’’ AATL senior left-hander Cole Syversen said. “The velocity on my fastball has increased. He tells me how to get my (body’s) lower half involved and it just clicks immediately. The way he describes it, you know it’s the way it should be.’’
Mathieson, a former 17th-round draft choice, was with the Philadelphia Phillies’ organization for 10 years, and he pitched 15 MLB games over three seasons. Ultimately, though, his progress was derailed by three elbow surgeries. He pitched eight more seasons with the Yomiuri Giants, appearing in 300 games as a reliever and winning the 2012 Japan Championship Series.
When it came time for retirement — and when his two children, Lane (9) and Brooke (6), enrolled at AATL — Mathieson asked if he could be involved with the baseball program.
The answer: A resounding yes!
“You can’t put a price tag on how Scott relates to the kids and how he helps their game,’’ Akins said. “We are really fortunate to have him. He shoots straight from the hip, no sugar-coating. He tells you how hard you need to work for success. Our guys have exploded with confidence and success by sticking to his plan.’’
Mathieson, whose fastball touched 100 mph in his prime, said he has enjoyed working with players who are so eager to learn.
“You teach them how to play, but even more, you teach them how to practice, how to make best use of their time and how to work properly,’’ Mathieson said. “Everybody’s pinnacle is different. You want to come close to your pinnacle and never have regrets. Whether that means getting into a high school game or reaching the major league level, let’s get there.
“You just want them to play to their best ability and not be satisfied with anything less than that. I got a little taste of the top level. It takes a lot of work, some luck and staying healthy. If a kid has a desire to improve and pursue his goals, it’s exciting to know I can help in those areas.’’
Mathieson, who turned 38 on Feb. 27, said his biggest MLB thrill was twice striking out Ken Griffey Jr., then with the Cincinnati Reds. When Mathieson grew up in a small town outside of Vancouver, he idolized Griffey and his early career with the Seattle Mariners.
“That was pretty cool,’’ Mathieson said. “I got to talk to him afterward and he signed a couple of baseballs for me. I was fortunate enough to strike out a few good names.’’
But the elbow injuries altered the course of his career. He has no regrets. In fact, he loves his life, particularly the part that involves taking his kids to school each morning and being intimately involved in their lives.
Mathieson also coaches with his son’s youth league team.
“I think the important things are learning the game, learning sportsmanship, making friends, being a good teammate and playing the game the right way,’’ Mathieson said. “Making a (physical) error doesn’t matter to me. As long as you’re paying attention, being disciplined and giving your best effort, it’s fine. It’s a game. It’s supposed to be fun.
“When I grew up in our small town, after our baseball games, the parents did the barbecue, the kids played Frisbee on the field, and everybody was friends. That’s the kind of attitude and environment we should have with our kids in baseball. It’s meant to be fun. I know I’m having a lot of fun, and if the kids can learn the game and have fun, that’s all I can ask.’’
By Joey Johnston
Published March 02, 2022