March 30, 2016

As told to Melissa Riordan (`18)

Freshman outfielder Matt Vierling hails from St. Louis, Missouri. Vierling was drafted by his home team, the St. Louis Cardinals, in the 30th round (911th pick overall) of the 2015 MLB draft but chose to come to Notre Dame to play baseball for the Irish. He has started in all 22 games and has a .302 batting average to place him fourth on the team. On March 6, he hit a walk-off homer against Niagara to give Notre Dame an extra-inning victory.

How did you get involved in playing baseball?

I started playing when I was probably six or seven with t-ball. My family has always been involved in sports so I have always been involved in sports. I played four sports in high school and all throughout grade school. Baseball is the one I landed on.

Is there a meaning behind your number, 24?

Not really, other than that I wore it my freshman year of high school and I’ve worn it ever since then. It was chosen for me by my coach, so I just stayed with it.

Do you have a pre-game routine or tradition?

I do with my bat. I always pat it down with rosen, which is this stuff that keeps it dry, and then I put pine tar on it every game. I do a new coat every game which is weird, but it works for me.

If you could play any other sport what would it be and why?

I would probably play basketball just because it has been probably, other than baseball, my favorite sport all throughout my whole life. My dad played basketball and he loved it, and my grandpa played basketball in college. It was kind of a big thing in our family, just baseball and basketball. If not for baseball, I would do basketball.

Who is your favorite professional athlete?

I would probably go with Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels), just because he is an outfielder and I’m an outfielder. He is a pretty young guy and he has kind of shown up the game of baseball. He’s been doing really well and he’s really athletic and really good. I like him a lot.

If you could trade places with any of your teammates for a day, who would it be and why?

I would trade places with Dave Hearne (SR RHP David Hearne). I just want to know what Dave does on a regular basis. What he does or where he’s going. We call him “Mr. Everything.” I just want to know what he does. No one knows.

What sold you on Notre Dame?

My first visit was just a regular visit and my second visit I saw Michigan State play here, and it was unbelieveable so I guess it was the football game. We beat Michigan State, and it was Michigan State’s 10-1 season and we were that one.

What is your favorite class that you’ve taken so far?

I am in this “Hacking Life” class right now and it’s pretty cool. It’s about cybercrime. I like it a lot.

What can you not live without?

My family. My brother plays baseball and a couple of other sports back in St. Louis, and my mom and dad are such a great support system. I don’t know what I would do without them.

You’ve been called “The Kid” on social media. Where did that nickname come from?

Russ Dorn posted it on Instagram I want to say the first two or three weeks into the season. I think I was doing pretty well, and so he said “The Kid is leading the ACC in RBIs” with whatever my average was at the time. He just posted my stats and said “The Kid” with it. Russ did a good job with giving me the nickname and it stuck.

**Editor’s Note: Not thought about during the creation of the nickname “The Kid” was the fact that National Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays, nicknamed “The Say Hey Kid”, wore No. 24 during his remarkable Major League Baseball Career, the same number that Vierling now wears.**

What was it like to hear your name called in the MLB Draft by your home team?

It was awesome. I don’t think there is anything better in my life than that. It was the coolest thing. Even though I am happy to be here more than anything, it was probably one of the best moments of my life to hear the Cardinals call my name. I’m from St. Louis so I’ve grown up a Cardinals fan, just going to games as a kid and it was awesome. Everyone freaked out about it so it was just really cool.

For more information on the Notre Dame baseball, follow the Irish on Facebook (/NDBaseball), Twitter (@NDBaseball) and Instagram (notredamebaseball).