Former big-leaguer Matt Angle returns to roots to help coach Ohio State bats

Matt Angle celebrates with teammate Pedro Strop | Photo courtesy of Matt Allison, labeled for reuse on Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/6142669852)

Every kid playing catch in the backyard with their father dreams about the chance to make it to the big leagues. For most, that dream is virtually unattainable.

But there are some who make it.

Former Ohio State outfielder Matt Angle was able to achieve that goal. He spent three years playing at OSU, was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles and debuted with the team in 2011, becoming the first Buckeye outfielder since Nick Swisher to reach the majors.

But for Angle, the dream he was living in started well before he was drafted.

Growing up in the suburban community of Whitehall, a small city in Franklin County, Ohio, Angle had grown up a fan of the Buckeyes.

“It was awesome,” Angle said. “I grew up a Buckeye fan. Being able to have your family and friends come watch and still be close to home, it was a great experience.”

Angle found a great deal of success at OSU, almost immediately.

On Apr. 27, 2005, in the second game of a doubleheader against Eastern Michigan, Angle was batting leadoff and starting in right field as a true freshman. For the next 27 games of the season, and essentially the remainder of his Buckeye career, Angle was found atop that lineup.

Then on June 7, 2007, the phone call was finally made to Angle that he had been selected with the fifth pick in the seventh round of the draft, 219th overall by the Baltimore Orioles.

The moment he received the phone call Angle described as a great and memorable experience.

“It’s something that you work hard for, something that you always dream about — the opportunity to play professionally, and it was something I’ll never forget,” Angle said.

After being drafted, it took Angle some time to reach the majors. He spent the half season in 2007 at Low Class-A and the next three-and-a-half seasons traveling through varying levels of the minors before finally landing in Baltimore.

On July 17, 2011, the day finally came where Angle donned an Oriole uniform and took the field at Camden Yards. He was batting in a spot he had been so comfortable playing for his whole career: leadoff. He went 0-for-3 on the day, but it was a day he will never forget.

“It’s something you’re always working for,” Angle said. “My wife and my mom and uncle and cousin were able to make the trip over to Baltimore.”

Unfortunately for Angle, his career in the majors was short-lived. He finished the 2011 season in Baltimore and never saw another major-league at-bat. His final career stat line was .177/.293/.266 with a lone home run and 11 stolen bases.

He spent four more seasons in the minors, split between the farm systems of Los Angeles Dodgers, the Miami Marlins and the Oakland Athletics.

But as the years wore on and it became clearer that he did not have the same skillset he had a few years earlier, Angle decided to hang up his cleats.

“At that point, sometimes the game just kind of tells you,” Angle said. “Ideally, you would’ve loved to still been able to play longer, but sometimes the game just tells you its time.”

Though his career as a player was over, Angle found a new career with the sport he loved. Angle knew that while his time in the field may have been over, he still had some unfinished business and a possible future back in Columbus.

Angle left OSU a year early without receiving his degree, and so that was one of the first things he wanted to take care of when he moved back to Columbus.

While completing his degree at OSU, Angle found a job waiting for him on the baseball team. He joined coach Greg Beals’ staff in the role of volunteer video coordinator.

In this position, he sits down with players to go over tape and help them go through what may be wrong with their swing and how they can get it going at the plate.

“So you’re able to implement some things there, and now you’re just following through on the video side, suggesting, being able to give a fresh set of eyes watching the game a little bit differently,” Angle said.

For some of these younger players, a former player with Angle’s level of experience can be exactly what they need to help break out of a funk at the plate.

“He knows his stuff, and I think everybody here trusts him with all the knowledge that he has,” said Brady Cherry, a sophomore third baseman.

Though Angle knows this is not the last stop in his journey, his dedication to the OSU baseball team has him focused on the now rather than the later.

“I’ve enjoyed the last two-and-a-half, three years that I’ve been a part of the program,” Angle said. “Right now, being fully entrenched in the season, not really thinking too far outside of that.”

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