This article appeared in the June 4, 2019, issue of the student newsletter.
Since becoming Eastfield's head baseball coach in 2001, Michael Martin has won a pair of national championships, an NJCAA Division III National Coach of the Year award and more than 600 games.
He recently reflected on his journey to Eastfield and his tenure with the Harvesters.
Oh man, I grew up around baseball. My dad was a big baseball man. Since my brother and I were little, we were always involved in baseball. My dad actually played baseball. He grew up here, in the Dallas area, and played baseball. He went to Sul Ross State University back in the 50s and was part of a national championship team for Sul Ross State way back in the day. And then he continued his baseball career in coaching.
He traveled around and then stayed in Dallas and coached, and that's where our love of the game started. It was with our dad, for me and my brother both.
I am the youngest of five children.
No, I was the baby. [laughs] I have three older sisters and then a brother who's two years older than me. He tormented me a little bit on occasion, but my sisters? No, they were going to take up for me. So, they would hold him down, let me get my shots in, and then I'd go running off. So, no, it wasn't too bad at all.
Well, I grew up here in Duncanville. Southwest Dallas. I was recruited out of high school to play ball at Louisiana Tech University. I would come back though during the summer and take classes at Mountain View.
Yeah. So, I had a little DCCCD connection there before I started working here. But when I left here and went to Louisiana Tech, I played there for four years, and I knew I wanted to stay in baseball, so I became a student assistant. And then I became a graduate assistant. And then I was hired as a full-time assistant and coached there for four years as a full-time assistant. Left there and took my first head job at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.
It means I've been here for a very long time. [laughs] It means that I've had a lot of people around me who have allowed me the opportunity to have some success or helped me along the way. And that goes from the guy who hired me — in Rodger Pool as the president here at Eastfield College and Bob Flickner who was the athletic director at the time — through all the presidents that we've had and the deans and the athletic directors. I've received nothing but support from our administration.
As far as athletics goes here at Eastfield College, it's been an awesome experience. And then you turn and look at all the assistants I've had through the 18 years that I've been here. I couldn't be luckier to have the opportunities to bring the guys into this program because it's not a glorified position. [laughs] To be a junior college baseball assistant — for some of them to stick it out as long as they have and to do the jobs they did here with me — that's where the credit for 600 goes.
And then you look at all the players who have come through the program in 18 years. That's where the glory lies, with all those people. It's not with me. I tell my guys all the time, "I can't win a baseball game. I can lose it."
I honestly hope it doesn't have anything to do with coaching. I hope it has to do with building character, with making relationships with these young men. And I tell all those guys all the time. About a week ago, I got a text message from a guy that said, "Hey, Coach! You told us to always share these big life moments with you." And he sent me a picture of him and his fiancée.
I guess there's a place for it. I put my assistant — a younger guy — I put him in charge of social media. You got it. You take care of it. You want to tweet something out, tweet it out. You got it. [laughs] I look at it sometimes and think we probably need to be more active in it, and we probably need to be more diligent with it. Because that's what these kids nowadays want to see; they want to see Eastfield College tweeting this out and that out. We get a commitment from a kid, or we sign a kid, they want to know that we're excited about that. And I tell them! "Hey man, I'm excited! I'm glad you're here!" But no, they want to blast that thing out!
It's changed a lot. There were countless hours I'd spend when I'd go home calling recruits. I had a log of phone numbers — and I still do, and that's what I was going through today. But you couldn't just shoot them a text message and say, "Hey man, how's it going? How'd your game go Friday?" You had to get on the phone and call them. And now it's a little bit easier. I can shoot a text to them. "Hey man, just wanted you to know I checked your stats out. I watched some of the game online."
Nope. You couldn't do that back in the day. So, that communication flies a lot quicker, and you can keep up with them a little bit easier.
It's as stressful as you make it. And I say that meaning that my character is, I want to be the best that I can be. All the stress that is put upon this program is put upon me as a person to go out and be the best. So, it is stressful, but it's a good kind of stress. And I bring it on myself. If we didn't care, if we weren't passionate about what we do, then it'd be really easy. But we want to win. We want to be the best.
There are a lot of sacrifices made.
Yes, 24 and 28. Both about to get married: one this summer and one in November. So yeah, you want to talk about stress? [laughs] They're both my stepchildren, but they're my kids. They've been in my life since they were three and seven. My son will be married in July, and my daughter will be married in November.
Well, there's a lot of it. It's just like anything else. We want to portray the best image we can. So, if something ain't getting done, we're going to do it. There are times we're mowing and edging, and weedeating, and doing whatever we need to do because we're constantly bringing kids in, and bringing recruits in, and we want our facilities to be as nice as they can be. Our maintenance and our facilities people come out and try to keep it mowed and weedeated. But there are times where we've got to do something different.
I think throughout the years that we've been here, you try to sell the success of the program. We average winning 30-something games a year, 33-34 games a year. That's just an average year. If we have a good year, we're going to win 40. We schedule 56, so you're talking about being 40-16. So, you talk about that. You talk about the success we've had on the field and the opportunities to go to postseason play. I think we've been to the regional tournament or district tournament not quite every year that I've been here, but pretty close. I would guess 15 of the 18 years we've been in postseason play. So, you have an opportunity to compete and play at the highest level and have the opportunity to compete in a national tournament.