Who is Eddie Mata? Inside the Mind and Baseball Soul of the 2012 MLB Fan Cave Finalist
Monday February 27, 2012
Jonathan Hacohen (MLB reports): In life, we experience certain moments- certain events, which stay with us. Which stick it in our minds for many years after they occur. I experienced that this evening, when I finally got to place a call to Eddie Mata. After weeks of e-mails and twitter exchanges, I got to speak to Eddie in real-time. Eddie Mata. On the phone with MLB reports. A night that I will remember for years to come.
I know what your next question may be. Who the heck is Eddie Mata? Well, if you have been living in a cave this winter, let me fill you in on my latest interview. Actor Michael Rapaport knows who he is. So does screenwriter Dana Stevens, actors Jon Lovitz and Peter Dante, Miko Brando and a host of others. All of these famous international stars know the name Eddie Mata. Now it’s time that you get to know Eddie Mata as well. To know Eddie is to love him.
Eddie Mata is a New Yorker that resides in Hollywood, California. An actor and baseball instructor, Eddie is currently one of the finalists for the 2012 MLB Fan Cave. Eddie Mata has become an overnight celebrity, featuring his YouTube interviews and endorsements with leading celebrities from all walks of life. Getting to know Eddie during his MLB Fan Cave campaign, I became quite captivated by the newest baseball powerhouse. What is it about Eddie Mata that fascinates me…I asked myself many nights. Over time, I developed several theories.
Firstly, it starts with the look. Eddie has a striking resemblance to Tony Danza. The perfect hair and teeth combo. Then there is the New Yorkism within him. Eddie eats, breathes and sleeps New York, specifically the Yankees. A baseball fan from New York with the New York accent is as real as it gets. The New York way of saying “fhuggedaboutit”. Priceless. Put it together and add in a dash of charisma and energy, you have a recipe for a winner. When you watch his YouTube videos, you feel the presence that is Eddie Mata. When he interviews a celebrity, you start to question who is the real star on camera. That is how magnetic Eddie’s personality is. One of the many reasons I’m sure why Michael Rapaport supports him. That speaks volumes in my book.
But this was not enough for me. I had to dig deeper. After all, we are MLB reports and cut to the heart…the meat of a story. To learn about Eddie Mata. To get to know the man behind the famous name, I had to speak to him. It was tough, but I was finally able to get him on the telephone today. I expected that I would be able to get maybe 5-10 minutes of his time. We ended up speaking on the phone for almost 2 hours. What I can say after the conversation is that I came away in further awe.
Eddie Mata came from humbling beginnings. Growing up with a brother and raised by his mother in New York, Eddie dreamed from the time he was a little boy that he would be a baseball player. For the record, Eddie did make it fairly far- as he starred with the Palm Beach Atlantic University, playing college baseball. Unfortunately for Eddie, he graduated a couple of years before the program was managed by hall-of-famer and recently passed legend, the “Kid”, Gary Carter. Eddie played left field and first base. As a .400 hitter, I wondered aloud why he never made it to professional baseball. Eddie was realistic and honest with his response. Had he been a right-handed thrower, perhaps he would have had a shot playing professional baseball and working his way up to the big leagues. But as a line drive hitter that batted and caught left, he didn’t have the power to stay at the corner or first. Plus standing 5’10″- he was going to have a tough time making it in a sea of 6’4″+ sluggers. With his first love on hold, Eddie continued with his second passion: acting.
As I mentioned to Eddie (and he readily admitted), the camera loves him. Eddie brought up an interesting nugget that his mother told him at a young age. She always told him to take care of his teeth. “If you have a good smile, you will get paid”, she used to tell him. Well Eddie. Mom was right. About four years, Eddie made the trip from New York to Hollywood to pursue an acting career. I can see the fit within him. Eddie is very at ease before the camera. A natural. As we were discussing the Oscars and the chances of Moneyball during our conversation, that was the only time I sensed any sadness in his voice. Eddie relayed to me that he had tried out for Moneyball and didn’t get the part. I could tell that he really wanted the role. Acting and baseball, combining both of his greatest loves would have been a dream come true. But when one door closes, another one opens. Moneyball may not have been in the cards for Eddie Mata, but the MLB Fan Cave position is very much a possibility. From 22,000 entries, Eddie was a top-50 finalist and is now in the final round of 30. It is there for the taking for Eddie and I think he has what it takes to get back home to New York and be a part of the 2012 MLB Fan Cave.
I asked Eddie why he wanted to be a part of the MLB Fan Cave. With his talents, he could be pursuing television roles, feature films and/or coaching professional baseball. Eddie’s answer was simply “I just love baseball. I love every part of it. For the next year, I am prepared to give it 110% and devote myself to the MLB Fan Cave. I want to be a part of the people and experience. I am ready for the cave.” Talking to him and hearing it from his lips, I believe it. Watching him on YouTube, Eddie sticks out…even in his world of Hollywood celebrities. The man captivates a room with his presence. He has that same effect in conversation, even on the telephone. He loves the Yankees, but is realistic. He knows that they will make the playoffs (fhuggedaboutit), but he doesn’t know how far they will advance. “Can’t win unless A-Rod and Teixeira hit in the postseason…and they just don’t do that”, Eddie said. He believes in a lock-down closer, the “one man who will get the final outs for the 24 other guys on the team”. He loves Mariano and was not confident in Feliz. He wasn’t sure how Papelbon would do in Philadelphia. He loved the Carpenter/Halladay NLDS game 5 from this past postseason. He thinks that I am nuts when I predicted that Mike Napoli would hit 40 home runs this year. Eddie Mata loves baseball. He is a real joe, a true hardcore baseball fan that lives with this game. Exactly what the doctor ordered for the MLB Fan Cave.
What impressed me most about Eddie’s baseball knowledge was his insights into the game. He admitted to me that he manages teams while watching games. He studies everything, from signs in the dugout, to situational statistics and records, to the status of pitchers in the bullpen. For a person that will be watching 15 games per day from April through October, Eddie can a real ally to baseball fans in the MLB Fan Cave. In answering questions, throwing out trivia and obscure baseball facts, Eddie is literally a walking baseball encyclopedia. I meet many new baseball fans every day as part of my role on MLB reports. But fans like Eddie come around once in a lifetime. That is why in the next couple of weeks, I can certainly see him being named to the 2012 MLB Fan Cave roster. It certainly helps that he still keeps active with the game. After graduating with a degree in physical education and teaching for five years, Eddie works mostly with elementary and middle school kids giving batting lessons. He is so popular, that his students called Eddie the “Batting Doctor”.
As our conversation was coming to a close, I had to ask Eddie one more question. If he was named to the MLB Fan Cave, would he change? Would he stay the same down-to-earth and approachable person, or would he develop an attitude? Given all the attention and publicity that he would enjoy during his year in the cave, how he would remain grounded? “Simple”, Eddie answered. “My family won’t let me get an attitude. My family won’t allow it. I won’t allow it. I am not programmed that way. I am one of the people and I will never forget where I came from. I will use my time at the cave to get to know the fans and support Major League Baseball and the Fan Cave in any way that I can.” Hearing those words, I felt it. The feeling that I had from the audition tape right through to all the celebrity YouTube videos, was in fact correct. Eddie is a genuine and sincere fan of the game, a student of the game- who wants to be a part of the game.
It would be very easy to watch Eddie Mata and simply call him a Yankees fan. Or a New Yorker and Hollywood actor. These are labels that may be a part of who he is, but do not identify him as a person. Eddie Mata will speak to Michael Rapaport, as he speaks to me or a waiter he meets at a restaurant. He treats everyone the same. “They all put their pants on the same way and they are the same, as you and I”, he told me. Eddie has pulled out all the stops to be a part of the MLB Fan Cave. He takes the occasional cat nap, but otherwise he is working 24/7. The man has the work ethic, the knowledge and the all-around game to make it on the MLB Fan Cave. He certainly got my vote. Within the next couple of weeks, we will find out if he was able to close out the game. I told Eddie that I believe that he is good for the game. His passion and fire would be admired by the millions of baseball fans worldwide.
Reflecting on the conversation, I walked away with more baseball information and knowledge. Eddie Mata let me inside his mind and shared his baseball soul. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him and look forward to future baseball discussions and debates. If I had to sum up my thoughts on Eddie Mata, I would say that he is as real as they get. The kind of baseball fan that I could sit with at Yankee stadium and talk ball all game long. Eddie, Moneyball may not have happened. But the MLB Fan Cave should. Baseball fans as a whole need you. They will love you. Good luck sir as you head down this Tuesday to Arizona to compete against the other MLB Fan Cave contestants for the next 2 days. Like you said, the Baseball Gods will hopefully be with you. It’s time to play some “Enter Sandman”, run in from the Yankees pen and close out the game. Mariano style!
To support Eddie, you can “like” his Facebook page: Eddie Mata for MLB FanCave 2012. You can also follow Eddie on Twitter (@EddieMata). Eddie would love to hear from you, so feel free to send him your comments and of course, talk baseball!
***A big thank you to Eddie Mata for taking the time out of his hectic schedule and speak to us today. Good luck to Eddie on his quest to join the MLB Fan Cave and we look forward to seeing you in New York this season!***
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Posted on February 27, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged baseball, dana stevens, eddie mata, gary carter, jon lovitz, michael rapaport, mlb, mlb fan cave, new york yankees, peter dante, tony danza. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.