Midkiff was an assistant coach at Swarthmore during the 2007-08 seasons, but comes to the college from Eastern, where he coached the Eagles for the last four years. Before, he attended school and played baseball for the University of South Florida and Wilkes University. Dan Duncan caught Coach Midkiff for a few minutes, where he shared his thoughts on Swarthmore and baseball.
Dan Duncan: Why did you decide to come back to Swarthmore?
Matt Midkiff: I came back because I thought it was a tremendous opportunity. This institution has so many things to offer that it couldn’t pass it up. I really enjoyed working with the coaches, faculty and staff when I was here previously so it is a lot of fun to have the chance to do that again.
DD: What else will you be doing on campus?
MM: I will be teaching a fitness course and assisting with some game day management.
DD: I saw you were also director of marketing and promotions at Eastern; is that something you’ll continue here?
MM: I will also helping Sports Information with some marketing ideas.
DD: What are your goals for the team?
MM: Our goals are to be excellent in everything we do and to win every single day. That means no matter if we have practice or we don’t, if we have a game or we don’t, we will do something to get better. We want to go to bed at night saying that was winning day for Swarthmore Baseball.
DD: How do you prevent a late-season swoon like last year? How can the team stay motivated?
MM: We aren’t worried about anything but looking forward. We are definitely focusing on our strength and conditioning to make sure we are at our best come playoff time. What continues to motivate this team is that we can always be better. It will also be an exciting and fun environment when we get on the field. They will be fired up to come to practice everyday.
DD: What kind of player do you look for as a coach? Any particular skills?
MM: I look for mentally-tough, hard-working players with a high baseball IQ. Baseball is such a mental game that we need people here who know what to do and why and can battle through difficult situations with the confidence they will succeed.
DD: Which coaches/players/managers inspire your approach to baseball most? How?
MM: I have liked Tony Dungy for a long time. The way he treats players with respect and gets the best out of them because of the relationship they have is a model I have used. I also like Joe Maddon from the Tampa Bay Rays. He thinks outside the box and isn’t afraid to try something bold. My favorite player was Barry Larkin of the Cincinnati Reds. He played the game with energy and focus and more importantly you could see how much fun it was for him to compete by the smile on his face.
DD: Does having a new head coach mean an end to the country music during warmups?
MM: I was an integral part in the introduction of country music to the warmup mix. I want the guys to have music that represents them and if they continue to enjoy the country music, I am all for it.
DD: What’s your MLB team?
MM: I am originally from the Tampa area so I am a Rays fan.
DD: Do you think the DH is good or bad for baseball?
MM: I think having leagues with some distinctions is kind of fun. It stirs debates and allows people to lobby for their team being from the superior league. I think with the specialization of players now many pitchers don’t even hit in high school or college so it could be very ugly to watch them face a Major League caliber pitcher. I love the idea of no DH but I think adding the DH in has given some additional excitement to the game.