Love You Matthew!

Sparks Of Insanity By Vinny "Bond" Marini Thursday, April 03, 2014

First, Happy Anniversary yesterday to my Brother Richard and his bride Cindy!

With respect to September 5, 2009, the day I married the wonderful Nancy, today I celebrate the day I became a DAD!

A couple of years ago, on this day, I wrote the following:

Be safe in your life
Be enveloped by your passions
Continue to grow into a sensitive, strong man
Take the opportunity to explore life

I Love You
Seven years ago, when Matt turned 20, I composed the following. I repeat it today for those who might never have read it.

I have added some newer photos at the end. The header is intact from when he was 20.

Today, April 3, 2007 I am no longer the father of a teenager.

Many who have been here awhile have heard scattered tales of Matthew Vincent. Today is different. Some of the details written about today may have been posted before, if so, you will be subjected to them again. It is also a long post, but I AM BRAGGING TODAY, so deal with it!


Actually, as you read this, he is still officially a 19 year old, but 20 years ago today at 11:36 PM he entered the world. That morning around 7:00 AM, I woken to learn that his mom's water had broken an hour before. A call was made to the OB and we were told to just take our time and head to the hospital.

After alerting a client that I would not be available for a press check and getting everything together, we made the 15 minute drive. Labor pains had not begun, so it was not the mad dash as you learn about in pre-natal classes.

We were shown into a room and the wait began. It should have been an insight into things to come, as Matt has always moved to his own schedule.

The pains began and then subsided…began again and then stayed constant. Hour after hour after hour. his mom was given an epidural and we sat watching as the pains slowed down once again.

As it got toward 10:30 that night, THE COUCH began to get antsy. The baby (we had not learned the sex of our child prior to birth), was supposed to be born TODAY. This was not supposed to go into tomorrow.

Then it was 11:00 PM. What was taking so long? Why was the baby not excited about coming into the world?


The baby. Yes, we had names selected. The fun story is about the boy’s name. As I am a junior, we had decided not to name a boy Vincent and saddle him with a Roman numeral. Vincent would be the middle name, if it fit with the name selected. We had thought of Alexander and other names.

Then one day Vince, Sr. whispered in my ear. “You know, if you named the boy Matthew, his initials would be “MM”, just like Mickey Mantle" (our hero growing up – but all y’all already knew that).

I went home that evening and made the suggestion to his mom, without giving her the true reasoning behind the selection. Luckily, she liked the idea, so if it was a boy, it would be Matthew Vincent. After Matt was born, we told her the whole story and she just shook her head.


Back to the story. About 11:15 the doctor came in and said it was time. We moved into the room where the baby would be born and what seemed like two seconds later the doctor was telling us we had a son…ten fingers, ten toes and lungs…yes he had lungs. Joan and Vince were in the waiting room and later on they said as soon as they heard the crying they knew it was their grandchild.

Cool Dude Even Then

We were living in West Orange, NJ and this is where Matt spent his first 5 years. They were not easy years. Matt had ear infection after ear infection. He also suffered some strange illnesses including Coxsackie. It turned out that he suffered from immunodeficiency.

As he was in daycare from about 18 months, we knew there would be times he was sick, but it was difficult to deal with watching your son being uncomfortable all the time. Matt also had difficulties at bedtime. There were nights when it would be 11:30 PM and he was still awake and restless.


There were also speech difficulties. Matt did not pronounce his words as he learned to speak. Then, one day, when he was somewhere around 2 ½, a mystery was solved. He was with his mom and she was speaking to him. At one point she turned her head away as she continued to speak. Matt took his hand and put it on her chin and turned her face toward his. A day or two later, I went into his room at around 11:00 PM to tell him it was time for lights out. He was facing away from the door and did not respond when he was told to put the book down and go to sleep. Again he was told and then, in a loud voice the request was repeated. Matt turned around and looked at me with a question on his face. “Why are you screaming at me dad?” Our heart sank. I realized he was having hearing difficulties.

An appointment was made with a speech therapist and when we got the news, we were pained. He had 95% hearing loss in one ear and almost 100% in the other. The day with his mom? He had learned to read lips and when she turned her head, he could not see her lips. The night with me? He had never heard the first two requests and only heard me when I screamed.

The constant ear infections had caused fluids to build behind his ear drums, so tubes were put in his ears. Almost immediately we had a different kid. One who could hear the little things, who could hear the things we take for granted every day.

Matt received a black leather biker’s jacket from a friend of ours when he was four. He would put it on and strut around… he became “Dude” to me then and it has always been my special nickname for him.


The year Matt turned five and was about to go into kindergarten, I was offered the position in Massachusetts and moved. We now had a son who had some speech difficulties who would have to begin working with a new therapist, moving to a section of the country where their accent was totally different then his.

Rockin' It Out With Dad In Massachusettes

He made a few friends, but as an only child, he tended to be a loner. But he also showed his other side often. One example was on his first day of school his mom walked him to the bus stop and that night told me how Matt walked up to every child and EVERY adult and put his hand out and said, “Hi, I am Matt and we are new here.” Our little politician!

He was also a child who could not sit still and as he went into the second grade, his studies were affected by this. His doctor suggested some testing and he was diagnosed ADHD. Now THE COUCH was not happy with the suggestion made to medicate our son.

It became a conflict between his mom and I. I took a business trip and when I returned I commented that it appeared with some discipline and discussions, he had begun to settle down. Of course, I then learned that he had been medicated for the 10 days I was gone. OK, I learned that it could help.


This entire time, my love of baseball was held back. I was afraid if I pushed too hard it would turn Matt off. He played soccer and little league. One day at little league he asked if he could play catcher. The coach got confirmation from me that he indeed was wearing a protective cup and then Matt put on the gear. Now as is usually the case, the chest protector hung off him, but when he crouched down behind the plate, his coach looked at me and asked how long he had played catcher. My response; “About three minutes.” He looked like a natural.

Maybe he knew that this position would require his complete attention and with ADHD that is what he needed.

He became a catcher almost exclusively that day and soon afterward we went out and got him the gear that fit him.

When baseball started having a fall season, Matt would have a soccer game and a baseball game on the same day. After a few weeks, he came to me and asked if he could give one of them up, that playing both in the same day was too much. We said sure, but you pick. He picked baseball as the sport he wanted to play.

That was when I began to show him my love of the game. Working with him whenever possible. Throwing ball after ball into the dirt in front of him to teach him how to block wild pitches. Throwing batting practice whenever possible. Now, I love the game and can teach it to a point, but I was never a gifted athlete.


As I traveled it was impossible to coach, but I was at every game I could be.

When he was nine I was in Chicago on business. On the phone I had promised to go Trick or Treating with him for Halloween. Of course planes were delayed and I did not walk into the apartment until almost 9:30. And there was Matt waiting in his costume.

We jumped in the car and went to the local development and began knocking on doors. The people who opened the door gave me dirty looks. The look of “How can you have such a young child out this late?” I never explained, it was none of their business. That night Matt learned that a promise is something that must be kept.


The opportunity to move back to the NY area happened when Matt was about 10. It also gave me the opportunity to help coach as I worked 5 miles from home.

It was hard for Matt to make friends. He had one or two close friends but so many of the boys had been friends since kindergarten or before and breaking into a group like that is tough.

He began playing Little League and was an OK player. Noting special... he made second-team All-star teams but was never selected for the first team. There was a young man who was an excellent catcher and Matt could never beat Gordon out for that #1 spot.

When Matt went into Junior high he was excited to try out for the school team. This was 7th grade. Gordon was going to the other junior high, so his biggest competition was gone. The day he came home from try-outs, I had a knot in my stomach. He walked in, sat down and said “Mom, dad, I didn’t make it.” Our hearts were crushed. Then he looked up and said “But you know what? I am going to keep working and next year they are going to be sorry they didn’t pick me this year.”

I was stunned, until the tears came and I had to hide my face. I learned so much that day about the boy I was helping to raise.


That summer he moved onto the big field playing Babe Ruth and unlike so many of the boys who had been great little league players, he did not suffer for it. He had a strong arm being a catcher and could make the throw to second base with only one or two hops.

He also began to hit the ball better.

The next year he made the Jr. High team and split the catching duty with another boy. He played well, but again was not the best on the team, but he was learning and studying the game.

His grades were always decent, middle of the pack and he was making friends and his teachers spoke of his enthusiasm and friendliness.


At home, it was always a little war with Matt not always listening. But we would hear from people in town. “Today I was in the store and I saw Matt at the other end of the aisle and he came all the way to me and put his hand out to say hi.” This from fathers and mothers of the kids Matt went to school with. It made us proud to know that even if it didn’t happen in the home all the time, out in the real world, we had a fine young man.

Entering high school Matt was still one of the smaller kids in his class. Like his dad he was skinny and short. Unlike his dad, he had confidence at that age. He earned the nickname “Guns” because he would roll his sleeves up. Now the nickname was a joke because of his skinny arms, but once again, Matt took the challenge.

He earned a place on the freshman baseball team that year. Again, he split time with another boy. Also around this time he began going to work with a company called the baseball Factory. They held local clinics, but he and I would also drive down to Baltimore to their headquarters for private lessons. His hitting improved. That year was his last for Babe Ruth baseball and he made the all-star team once again. Also on the team was his old nemesis Gordon, with Gordon’s father running the team.

Matt got a great deal of playing time and at the end of the all-star season, after the team was eliminated, the dad came up to me and said the following “You know, Gordon was always so far ahead of Matt as a player, but I want you to know that this year, Matt shot ahead of Gordon and is a much more complete player.” WOW! Then he said something that meant even more “He was also the most respectful player’s I had and was always willing to do anything to help the team.” Double WOW.

Matt began dating and brought home some very lovely young women. They never lasted long and one day I asked him why. “Dad, if I don’t really like them I am not going to date them just because.” That made me happy. I knew some of his friends only dated to "get some." Matt was never like that.


The year he was a sophomore something else happened. Matt had begun lifting weights (we had not let him until he was 14), and began to get muscles. He shot up over 6 inches. I can remember one period where one day I was looking down into his eyes and within a few weeks I was looking eye to eye and then…. BAM I had to look up to see into his eyes.

That year he also caught every inning of baseball for the JV team.

The nickname “Guns” came back from his teammates, but this time it was because of the size of his biceps and forearms.


The summer after his sophomore year the coach for the American Legion team selected him to be on the team. This man was also the Varsity coach at the high school. Matt did not play one inning that summer. He spent the entire time warming up the pitchers before coming into the game. He did not complain once. He would tell me "Dad, I have to earn my place."


When he sat in the dugout he began keeping a book on the opposing hitters. What were their tendencies, what pitches did they swing at, and the like. He also sat with the starting catcher, who was also the starter on the HS team and talked to him constantly.

As a junior, he was on the varsity. Still playing as a sub, he began to get his opportunities. He continued to work with the Baseball Factory and was invited to special tournaments in Florida with that group.


Matt never had any siblings. The way God intended it. With his cousins and any other younger kids, Matt was always gentle and caring. He would take them out to play basketball or baseball or soccer or cars, always making sure they were included if he had other friends his age around.

Matt & His Cousin Billy

His mom suffers from pain much of the time. Matt would always take care of her when I was traveling. He has a kind heart.

During his senior year, Matt was planning on getting a teaching degree and took a course where he worked with elementary school kids teaching gym. One of his classes was with mentally and physically challenged children. One young man refused to participate and Matt took him aside and began talking to him. Slowly they built a bond and this young man began trying to shoot baskets. As his mom arrived that day she witnessed her son make the first basket of his life.


As a senior, Matt was starting catcher and co-captain and caught almost every inning. He hit very well and earned a place on the County All-Star team that competed in the Carpenter Cup against teams from Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.

COUCH NOTE: Proud Papa bragging alert: See news article at bottom for story on Matt’s selection to this event.

If you asked him though, he would probably tell you the best game as a senior was when he had the game winning RBI against the rival high school.

Because I was not working (unemployed for 20 months), I was able to see every single game his senior year. It is a time that I will never forget.

The Big Game Against Rival School
Just Before Matt Had The Game Winning RBI


At the banquet at the end of the season, he was given the Most Improved Player award. His coach, in front of all the parents and players from the freshman, JV and varsity teams explained that the award was not because Matt had not played well the year before. He pointed to Matt and looked at the younger players, “If you want to play varsity baseball follow his example.” He then explained that he was not sure Matt would ever play varsity ball when he began watching him as a 13-year old. But Matt had worked his butt off and watched and waited his turn. It was such a proud moment.

Senior Prom With Danielle

He played baseball his freshman year of college, but had a horrible experience and has not played since. It was hurtful that someone else would ruin his love for the game. As I have said to him, “It is not your life Matt, but it is part of who you are.”


Many heard of the accident Matt had two days before I moved to Memphis. At that time I posted the pictures of the car and wondered how he survived. He was touched by his guardian angel at point of impact, saved to do something incredible with his life. I have no doubt that this will happen and he will impact lives in the future.


Matt is finishing his sophomore year in college and is about to transfer to a 5-year school to gain his Master’s in Psychology. He works for a local company teaching the skills of baseball and is the youngest instructor for the company.

In the last few weeks he has decided to play baseball again and is working on joining an under 30 team as their catcher and will also try to pitch some.


Matthew Vincent now stands 6’2” and is a muscled 185 pounds. When I look at him he is twelve feet tall and a father has never been prouder of a son then I am of him.

I miss seeing him everyday, even knowing that if he had not decided to play baseball at the local JuCo, he would have been gone before I left for Memphis, but the feeling of distance would still be there.

Happy 20th Matt…
Today they say you are a man.
To your parents, you became a man years ago.

Matt With Cousins Joe & Candice
This Past Thanksgiving (2006)



Today, Matt is applying to local law enforcement agencies for a position as he also works the bar at the local Applebees and is in their management training program.

Sometimes I wonder if I had not moved away if things would be different for him.

Never do I worry about my son. He is a caring, sensitive, young man with strong values. What more can a dad ask for?

 Matt on the family cruise
November 2010

Matt & I on the same cruise

The 'ink' Matt surprised us with
on the cruise.  The three words
are those I had said to him since he
was a child.  How could I complain!

Matt last summer (2011), here in MS

The Present - Matt & his cousin Joe

Marini quietly excelling
By: Justin Feil , Assistant Sports Editor

WW-P catcher is self-made all-star

Matt Marini quietly has made himself into one of the top catchers in Mercer County.
The unassuming senior from West Windsor-Plainsboro South was sure that he was quiet enough that no one had noticed what a season it had been for him with the Pirates. But at the end of the season, he discovered that someone had noticed as he made the Mercer County all-star team for the Carpenter Cup for the first time.

"Coach (Don) Hutchinson brought us in a huddle after we lost to Notre Dame," Marini recalled. "He said, 'I want to congratulate (Chris) Ruiz and Matt for making the Carpenter Cup.' I looked around to see if there were any other guys named Matt on the team. I know I had some good competition with guys like (Eric) Woodrow from Hamilton West. I was extremely excited."

Marini and the Mercer all-stars bowed out of the Carpenter Cup in the second round with an 18-11 loss to Lehigh Valley (Pa.) on Tuesday afternoon. The Mercer all-stars had won their opening-round game, 4-3, over Delaware North on Saturday.

Marini appeared in nine innings combined between the two games and Mercer opponents never scored while he was catching.

"I caught a couple good pitchers," he said modestly. "It was fun."

It's the sort of fun that he was surprised to be selected for, but hopes will pay off in the future.
"It was good," he said. "Getting to play against competition like that opens your eyes to what else is out there. I've played in Mercer so long. The Delaware kids were great. It was good to see other competition. And Coach (Jim) Maher helped me on a couple pointers, so I took that away from it."

Marini hopes the experience helps as he prepares to try to make the William Paterson College baseball team in the fall. He is continuing his preparation by playing for the WW-P American Legion baseball team, and Hutchinson, who also manages the Legion team, is happy to see a proven asset behind the plate.

"I've been lucky to have good catchers," Hutchinson said. "With Matt, I really credit his work ethic. He made himself into a good catcher. He was on Legion two years ago and he caught bullpen only and last year he caught some. He's always had a good attitude about it. He made himself into a good catcher."

Marini, who played in nine games last summer, knows his last two summers weren't wasted on the bench. He was preparing for this year, when he had to take over the regular catching duties.
"That bullpen stuff really helps," said Marini, who was 1-for-3 in WW-P's 9-5 win over Bordentown Post 26 on Wednesday.

"Sitting there in the last two Legion seasons, I actually kept my own book. I jotted down things on hitters I'd face. I'm one of the few catchers around here to call my own game. Coach Hutchinson feels safe with me calling it. It helps me get thinking and be more a part of the game."

Marini has long been among the rare breed of high school catchers entrusted to call his own game. As a freshman at WW-P South, he called the pitches and did so again last year when he did play.

"It becomes second nature," he said explaining, "how to work the hitter, how to produce ground balls and get those double plays."

Hutchinson added: "He calls a nice game. He understands the game well. He knows hitters and he remembers things. That's an aspect of catching that goes unnoticed. It's a big part of it."

Marini's job is more important this summer as he works with pitchers who attend WW-P North High. He has to learn to work with them as well as the regulars he caught in the spring with WW-P South.

"Facing them in the regular season helps a little bit," Marini said. "I've caught one or two of them a little, like Jono Chirumbolo and Dan Margiotti. Other guys, I would warm them up in the bullpen and you talk to them between innings and say, 'did you like that or should we change it?' We have good communication lines."

Marini is also doing his best to boost his offensive production this summer. He's batting close to .300 after Wednesday's effort, fifth on the team among regulars.

"I'm not the type to hit home runs," he said. "With guys in scoring position, though, I get the job done, either by moving them over or getting them in. I hit for high .200s this year. I was hitting in the low .400s at one point."

He'd like to move his average back up there, but it's defense and handling of the WW-P pitchers that may be most critical to the Legion team's success.

"He's not going to mash the ball all over the park, but he holds his own at the plate," Hutchinson said. "He's valuable back there. Pitchers have confidence in him. It doesn't matter what you throw. If you throw it with confidence, it's a good pitch. I know the kids from South trust him and I think the kids from North feel the same way."

Trust and confidence are both key as WW-P looks to return to the top of the Mercer County American Legion League. With Wednesday's win, WW-P moved back to .500 at 4-4.

"I think we have a lot to prove to the rest of the league," Marini said. "We lost a lot of guys with Tim Woodhull, J.T. (Hutchinson) and (Rich) Gawlak going. We have some good leadership though. And we've got a pretty good team. What one (WW-P) school had, the other didn't, and what one didn't, the other did. It was good to combine the two teams' talents."

Topping that WW-P talent behind the plate is Matt Marini, who quietly has become a trusted catcher and dependable hitter. And a Mercer County all-star.

©PACKETONLINE News Classifieds Entertainment Business - Princeton and Central New Jersey 2007


1 Responses to Love You Matthew!

  1. I've always loved reading this tribute to your son. It's obvious how devoted to each other you are. I can't believe he's 27 now!


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