Meet the New York Mets! Let’s start with a guy who didn’t even play baseball in high school until his senior season! Growing up in sunny Santa Barbara, Calif., Jeff McNeil excelled in basketball, baseball, and golf growing up, but was forced to choose between baseball and golf as his spring sports once in high school.
His high school’s golf team was much more “stacked” than the baseball team, and for this reason McNeil opted to hit the ties, competing in the same age group as the PGA stars of today Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay and Jordan Speith. . McNeil actually qualified and competed in the prestigious 2009 US Junior Amateur, but failed to qualify for the final day of the tournament.
This exposure led McNeil to believe he would receive golf scholarships, but since it was his first real success in the sport at a high level, he soon discovered that nearly every division one school had already filled their recruiting classes. With nothing left to gain from golf, McNeil eventually joined his high school baseball team in his senior year and thrived on the diamond, hitting an outstanding .446. McNeil would continue to secure his Division One commitment at Long Beach State and play summer ball in the Cape Cod League, where he hit .301.
McNeil’s continued success at the Division One level would eventually see him drafted by the Mets in the 12th round of the 2013 MLB Draft. together he enjoyed a highly successful minor league baseball career, rarely hitting the .300 mark when healthy. McNeil finally made his MLB debut in the summer of 2018 and would finish that season with .329 in 225 at-bats.
Some fun facts about Jeff McNeil. McNeil uses a buttonless bat. From what I understand, McNeil uses this bat because it’s longer, but also allows him to choke comfortably, allowing him to use a bat with at least the feel of having a cannon bigger. The bat was first given to him in the minors by coach Lamar Johnson and McNeil simply says he likes it because “it just feels lighter because it’s so balanced.”
He has been called a “maniac” by commentators and goes by the nickname “the flying squirrel”. He looks just like actor Owen Wilson and recently imitated his wedding crasher dance after a two-circuit performance after being virally heckled by a fan for needing to work on his legs.
And for those who want to fall down a rabbit hole, just search YouTube for “Jeff McNeil fart” and head over to SNY to watch a countdown video he and his wife put together to show how their dog Willow and their cat Mac get along strangely well. .