Mercer’s baseball team hosted their annual First Pitch Classic on Jan. 18 to kickstart the 2023 season. The event featured a cash bar, a silent auction and an opportunity to win either $5,000 or $10,000 in a raffle.
Matt Olson, first baseman for the Atlanta Braves, was the keynote speaker and spoke about what the support from Braves country means to him. Olson was traded from Oakland A’s prior to the 2022 season, sending him home to Georgia to play for the Braves.
“It’s been an incredible experience since I put on the Braves uniform,” Olson said. “I can’t thank you enough for the support that you’ve given me since we showed up.”
There were a lot of young players in the room who might dream of playing in the major league one day, and for some Mercer players, that might become their reality. Olson gave advice on what it takes to play at that level and what got him there.
“Enjoy the process,” Olson said. “It’s a long process, but one day you’re going to look back on the time right now and try to figure out how you got to where you’re at. Your next opportunity is the best opportunity and at the end of the day, you only control two things: attitude and effort.”
The two-time Golden Glove winner believes in the fact that you are the product of your environment. He said his parents gave him every opportunity to get where he is now and he expressed his gratitude for all they did for him growing up.
“From a young age my parents instilled a hard work ethic in me,” Olson said. “Whether it be school, or sports, or chores around the house, there’s an expectation from my brother and I. My parents did a great job setting up an environment for my brother and I to succeed.”
Oslon wrapped up his speech by emphasizing that it takes a village to make something great. He realizes he would not be where he is not if he didn’t have support from family, friends and teammates.
“Sure I’m the person on the field making the plays, but behind every player is a team full of people who’ve gotten them there and kept them there through support, love, and understanding,” Olson ended with.
The Mercer baseball team will host their first game of the season on Feb. 17 at 6 p.m. to start the three-game series against William and Mary.