Life father, like son
Matt Fraizer and his father share bond with baseball
The close bond between a father and his son is something Arizona baseball player Matt Fraizer knows well. It wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to say baseball flows through the veins of both Fraizer and his father.
Fraizer learned how to swing a bat before being able to walk with the help of his father. His father, Terance, played collegiate baseball at Fresno State and then went on to play professionally for the Oakland Athletics in 1992, and his experience has given his son guidance through his time playing baseball.
“I grew up playing baseball my whole life because of my dad. My dad played baseball in college, then professionally with the [Oakland Athletics]. Growing up, I was just always around baseball,” Fraizer said.
With a father who had a journey through baseball, many would assume the son would be forced to play the game, but that wasn’t the case for Fraizer. His father always made sure to not be too hard on him or his brother, Jacob, because he didn’t want them to lose the love for the game.
“Growing up, he always told me I didn’t have to play baseball, but if I liked it I could play,” Fraizer said. “I had the choice, and I always loved it, so I grew up playing it. I just grew a passion for the sport, so it just stuck with me.”
Preparing for the opportunities that were ahead, Fraizer’s father would often take the time to help him if he was struggling with any aspect of the game, whether it be his swing or even his mentality.
The Fresno, California native eventually went on to play high school baseball at Clovis North. There, he was ranked the No. 38 player in California by Perfect Game as he hit .392 as a senior with six doubles, four triples, 27 runs scored, seven stolen bases and 12 RBI. Fraizer’s hard work and dedication to the sport paid off as he was selected in the 38th round by the Oakland Athletics in the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft.
“I’m not so sure. I think a little had to do with that because my dad played with the A’s and he knew people in the organization,” Fraizer said. “I think there might have been some ties and they picked me up.”
But Fraizer knew he couldn’t jump on the opportunity of going into the big leagues right away. Making the decision between professional baseball or going to play college ball is never easy, but Fraizer had his father to help guide him once more.
“My dad definitely helped me with the decision because he always told me, ‘Baseball may not always work in the end, so you should always get a degree’, which he has,” Fraizer said.
Needing to mature more as a player after high school, Fraizer decided to hold off with going professional and took the collegiate route like his father. Fraizer committed to the University of Arizona baseball team in 2015 and made his debut as a Wildcat in 2017 in right field.
“I don’t think I was fully ready out of high school, but coming here [Arizona], I knew I had a better chance of going further and becoming the player I can be,” Fraizer said. “So I thought coming to college was the better idea.”
Arizona head coach Jay Johnson saw something in Fraizer when he recruited him and knew he would become a great player, but it was just a matter of when. Fraizer made 32 appearances with four starts during his freshman year, batting a .300 in conference play.
“We had two All-Conference outfielders out there last year , and we were one of the best offensive teams in the country last year,” Johnson said. “I wish we could’ve given him more time on the field, but you can start to see it, after these first couple weeks, that development has really taken shape and he is going to be a big part of our team this year and next year.”
Johnson has grown a relationship with the Fraizer family and got to know Terance during the recruiting process.
“I think Matt has a chance to be a super-star,” Johnson said. “He had a lot of options, and he chose Arizona. I’ve developed a good bond with Matt and his whole family. I’m a Northern California guy, so I like my Northern California guys. “
“Last year, it was a huge learning experience for me, watching a lot of the older guys,” Fraizer said. “Picking up parts and bits of the game and learning from them — it was tough, but I definitely learned a lot from it. I think it has helped me now to be a better every day player.”
With the hopes that baseball leads him to his future goals, Fraizer has a backup plan just in case playing professionally doesn’t work out.
“My father played baseball for three or four years professionally and couldn’t really make a full living off of it, so he uses his degree,” Fraizer said. “So go to college, get a degree and play pro ball after, so you can have something to fall back on.”
And Fraizer’s fallback plan is to once again follow his father’s path.
“I would probably follow in the footsteps of my dad and become a real estate developer, and then maybe do some coaching or scouting on the side,” Fraizer said.
Now in his second year as a Wildcat, Fraizer is out on the field as a full-time starter and is batting .227 so far during the 2018 season. Fraizer continues to grow as a player and has his father to guide him along his journey.
“My dad is why I am where I am today, it’s because of him,” Fraizer said.
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