Impact Baseball traveled out to Newton Grove to interview Mr. Mike Joyner, he is one of the most recognizable names in North Carolina High School baseball. Joyner is very excited about taking on his new adventure with the Hobbton Wildcat baseball club. Coach Joyner has been in the coaching profession over sixteen years with a great amount of knowledge for the game.
Name: Mike Joyner
Hobbton High School Head Baseball Coach
Years at Hobbton: 1st year
Location: Newton Grove, NC
You spent sixteen years at Smithfield-Selma High School, what are your expectations here at Hobbton?
SSS is a place I thought I would be my entire career, but I realized last April that I needed a change. Sixteen years in this day and age is a long time to be any one place and I cherish those years at SSS. I am taking over a program here that has a lot of history, but has struggled the past two years. My expectations will remain unchanged. I expect to put the best product on the field possible, compete every game, and help young men move successfully to their next step in life. I believe those are what solid programs do.
While coaching at Smithfield-Selma you posted a 234-135 record and won six conference championships. You had 36 players move on to play college baseball. You were also elected conference coach of the year five times. Your track record speaks for itself; What are you looking to bring to Hobbton baseball?
I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel. We are going to do the same things here we did at SSS because I believe that formula worked. We are going to work hard in the off season and bust our butts in practice to get better every day. I am also going to get these guys playing in the summer, which has not been the case in the past. The big thing I plan to do here is change the baseball culture from something you just do in the spring to something you do all year to get better. Also, I want to bring some excitement about the program to the community to get it behind us. I always preach 3 things: hard work, determination, and sacrifice. Then I try to practice what I preach and get the players to buy into it. So far, I have been very pleased.
What should people expect coming to watch your Hobbton ball club?
A team that plays hard, has fun, and competes every pitch. There were games last year that the kids were in all except one inning. I am trying to instill in them to be in the best physical and mental shape they can be so that doesn’t happen this year. I have always said if you are fundamentally sound and you are hard to score against you can win way more than you lose. I hope people see that in our clubs here at Hobbton.
What are the strengths of your club?
Our defense seems to be solid. We have a few decisions to make at a few spots once we get everybody out there. We have three pitchers who I believe can throw strikes and keep us in the game. We are going to try to develop a few more young kids there to give us some depth for now and the future. We have a ways to go with the bat, but that is usually the case this early in the game.
What is your most memorable game coaching high school baseball?
There have been a lot of memorable games through the years. Walk off homeruns, no hitters, and huge individual performances. I would have to say last year our final home game against East Wake. We had to win that one to guarantee our spot in the playoffs. My pitcher took a perfect game into the top of the 7th in a 0-0 game. He lost it on the first pitch of the 7th. I have always thought if we had the lead he might have finished it. However, we won in the bottom of the 11th 3-2 on a squeeze bunt and a high hopper to the pitcher where we beat out the throw. It was senior night for 11 seniors so they will always remember it also.
Who is the best player you ever coached?
That is a loaded question that there is no right answers for. I would say that Tate Parrish had the best career. He had that rare combination of speed and power that I love. Then he could get on the mound and throw 90+ from the left side. He also had all of those great numbers at the 4A level which makes it more impressive. Guys like him make you a good coach.
When thinking about Smithfield-Selma baseball, five names come to mind. Tell me your thoughts on Jerry Sands, Carlos Hines, Jay Cox, Tate Parrish, and Dylan Brown.)
Jerry is now with the Pittsburgh Pirates with an excellent chance of making the big league club this year. Carlos made it to AAA with the Rays, Giants, and Astros as a pitcher. Jay is a guy that is real special to me because I am still very close to his family; he was a dangerous hitter and an exceptional athlete. I was able to coach him in legion ball and high school, I think we had about 200 games together. He had an exceptional career at Carolina, playing in the College World Series his junior year then moving on and playing with the Rockies. As I said, Tate had a great career at SSS. He could just get in a zone sometimes at the plate to where he just seemed inhuman. He could carry the team through slumps either offensively or shutting teams down on the mound. He has also been to the College World Series with Carolina. Dylan is one of my favorite players and people of all time. There has never been anyone who deserves success more in baseball than he does. No one will ever out work him; He works to get stronger, faster, and better all the time. He has a long future in baseball because of that and I am glad he is an East Carolina Pirate now.
If you could sit down with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
I am going to change that question to living or dead. I lost my father in 1996. He never got to see me coach a high school game and he never met my wife or son. I would like to introduce him to them and see what he thinks about how things have gone with my life. I miss him greatly.
What are your hobbies outside of baseball?
I love to travel with my family. Also, I am an avid deer and duck hunter. I try to play golf as much as possible. Finally, I love going to ECU football games with my son.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I am fortunate that I have been a lot of places. I would have to say the Baseball Hall of Fame with my family. We have talked for years about going but it never seems to work out.
If you could watch any matchup in sports, who would it be?
Game 7- Yankees vs. Braves World Series. My two favorite teams.
Best advice you could give a youngster out there wanting to be a coach?
You do not know everything about the game of baseball. Listen and learn from people who have been around the game. I have been very fortunate to have been around people my whole career like Ronald Vincent, Pat Smith, Milton Senter, Pete Shankle, Charlie Spivey, Dean Dease, Barry and Amby Foote and lots of other veterans. You can learn so much from these people just by talking to them and mainly listening. I try to take a little from each of these coaches and make it work for my team. Also, this is baseball not war. Having the respect and friendship of your fellow coaches is more important than the result of the game. Baseball is one of the few things in life that will give you back what you invest in it.
Impact Baseball would like to thank Coach Joyner for his "In The Dugout" interview. We wish him and the Hobbton High School Wildcats the best of luck this spring..
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