Some thoughts on baseball, hard work, and the Upper Valley from Grayson Padgett and Bill Maier
This week, yours truly had the chance to chat with two of the better-performing Nighthawks this season. Grayson Padgett, a first baseman from the University of Houston up for his first season in the NECBL, owns the third highest batting average on the team at .356, and is also tied for the team lead in home runs.
Bill Maier, a right handed starting pitcher for Iona College playing in his second stint in the NECBl, leads the team in innings pitched, has allowed the third fewest walks on the team, and owns a 3.10 ERA.
Carter Farnsworth: Did anything surprise you about the Upper Valley?
Bill Maier: "Nothing really surprised me, you know. I’ve been up here before, because I played with Noah in Laconia last year so I wasn’t too surprised by anything. It is a new area, so I got to, you know, experience that but it wasn’t really new to me."
Grayson Padgett: “Vermont’s a lot different from Texas. I mean, where I live in Texas everything is flat, so driving around, seeing all these mountains, that was really the only thing where I was like, ‘Wow, this is a lot different.’”
CF: What's your favorite thing about the Upper Valley?
BM: “Well there’s lots of things to do outdoors. You know, there are plenty of lakes, and woods and stuff so I like to get out and see that stuff, for sure.”
GP: “My favorite thing is the rivers, and lakes, and different things. There’s a lot of stuff to do outdoors, and in your downtime, like go to the lake and stuff. You can go fishing, swimming… There’s a lot of rope swings around here too. It’s a really good time, hanging in the river, you know, with my teammates on our off days.”
CF: Did you play summer baseball before this year?
BM: “Well like I said, I’ve played in the NECBL before, so that’s what I did last summer. But in high school, I played Legion ball the summer before I went to college and then in the summers before that, I played travel ball, just trying to stay active.”
GP: “In high school, I played travel ball. I traveled to Atlanta a lot to play in the Perfect Game tournaments. I just liked to stay active. I’d play anywhere I could.”
CF: How do you balance school and sports?
BM: “Baseball stuff is usually in the morning, so we have time for assignments and work after classes, usually. I’m always tired but there is definitely time to work on things, so I have to keep up.”
GP: “Well the University of Houston has an Academic Center for Athletes, and every week we have to have a study hall hour. Honestly, it wasn’t that hard to balance academics because as a student-athlete, I had to get a certain amount of schoolwork done in order to play so once I was in there, it was pretty easy just to get stuff done. I always had a place to study, and a place to do homework. The University of Houston does a great job helping their student-athletes.”
CF: What does the practice schedule look like during the offseason?
BM: “There’s nothing going on during the summer, so there aren’t any conflicts with this league and school. During the fall, we practice pretty much everyday, and of course we lift and stuff. And then in the spring, we’re playing, you know, so we stay busy. We have practices on off days.”
GP: “Well a lot of the players at the University of Houston go off to play summer ball. We’ve got guys who go to Oregon, California, Cape Cod, Kentucky, so we’ve got a lot of guys who go out and play in the summer. There are also summer workouts at the school for guys who stay home, and then in the fall we start working out again, so there are always opportunities for guys to put some work in."
CF: What is it like to play on a team with a bunch of guys you've never met before?
BM: “Well I knew Mims, but I didn’t really know anybody else. It’s really just about acclimating quickly.”
GP: “I did not know a single player, so it was a different experience for me because I’ve always known at least a few guys who were playing on my team. But guys on this team really made it easy to get comfortable with. We’re all friends, so we hang out sometimes, but yeah, it’s been pretty easy.”
CF: Bill, as a pitcher, how do you take care of your arm during the summer season coming off of so much work during the regular season?
BM: “I just have to make sure I’m keeping up with everything I do during the season, between starts and everything.”
CF: Grayson, how weird is it to live up here for a few months after living in Texas for so long?
GP: “It was a little weird. The first few weeks it was cold outside. It gets really cool at night, which is different from where I live in Texas. The other night, it was like 10:30 at night and it was probably 60 degrees here, but it was 90 degrees in Texas. So the weather’s been different, but I’ve gotten used to it. I’m really enjoying my time here.”
CF: What are some of your interests outside of baseball?
BM: “I like to golf when I’m at home. I’m not very good, but… It’s still fun. At school there really isn’t time for much else.”
GP: “I’ve got a big family, so when I’m home, I like to go around and see everyone I haven’t seen in a while, uncles, aunts, grandparents. I like to spend time with family a lot. Other than that, I’m big into working out, I like to lift weights, I like to stay active.”
CF: What is the best advice you've ever received, baseball-related or otherwise?
BM: "I’d have to say the best advice I’ve ever gotten was from my dad and he just told me that if you work harder than the next guy, you’re gonna succeed.”
GP: “My dad has been a big source of motivation for me. I probably wouldn’t be here without him; I know a lot of people say that, but he’s been the person who has gotten me to where I am. A quote he told me, which comes from Martin Luther King Jr., says ‘If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl.’ To me, that means that you can always keep moving forward, and I think about that every day."
I hope you all enjoyed that! There will be more conversations coming up, this time with the questions coming from you, the reader! If you have a specific player you'd like to me interviewed as well, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org more Points of View, click here.