Way back in December 2011 (after I had been writing this blog for only a handful of months), I reached out to my first minor league player on twitter to ask for an interview. Those who have followed this blog for any length of time will hardly be surprised to know that I picked a lefty pitcher, given my affection for southpaws. Kyle Hallock had just been drafted in the 10th round out of Kent State earlier that year and was an All-Star in the New York-Penn League. Kyle's prompt, generous response to me encouraged me to keep asking for interviews and really opened a door for me. Here is the result of a rookie blogger interviewing a rookie player if you'd like to take a look.
During my recent trip to Tri-City, I spoke with one of the season ticket holders who had made friends with Kyle and his family during his time playing there. Candi told me a little about Kyle's life since he left the Astros fold and I thought he would be a perfect subject for my Astros MiLB Alumni series. Once again, Kyle was very generous with his time in sharing his post-Astros story.
KH: After I was released by Houston in March of 2014, I had a choice to continue playing or start the next part of my career. I received a phone call from Scott Pickler asking if I would be interested in coaching the pitchers of the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox in the Cape Cod Baseball League. I decided to take him up on that opportunity and see if I would enjoy the coaching side of baseball. Following that, I accepted a Graduate Assistant position in August of 2014 at Malone University, a Division II school in Canton, Ohio. Within the past few months I have received an M.B.A. degree from Malone, accepted a full-time position on the coaching staff and married the best woman I have ever met, my wife Morgan.
JH: What one memory (or more) have you taken with you from your time in the organization?
KH: I learned a lot about the game of baseball from the guys I shared a dugout with while in the Astros organization. As I have had some time to reflect on my playing career, the few memories that stick out are starting the New York Penn League All-Star game in Lowell, Massachusetts in 2011. I was fortunate enough to have a hand in throwing a no-hitter on Mother's Day out in Lancaster, California. And finally, I learned the most while at AAA in Oklahoma City from a great group of guys that showed me how to be a professional and get big league caliber hitters out on a consistent basis. Those three stops along the way have allowed me to share some unique experiences with the players I am helping to develop.
JH: What life lessons have you taken with you from your time playing minor league baseball?
KH: One of the life lessons I acquired through minor league baseball was the need to be self-sufficient on and off the field. Everything in the season is on the go (travel, promotions, etc.) and you don't have to get ready for that if you stay ready. As you make it to new places, you have to be capable of fitting in socially, while still maintaining an acceptable level of performance in parts of the country you have never been to. I attempt to bring a consistent mindset to our players here at Malone so they know what they are getting out of me. The more I look back, the more I realize being a reliable player/coach/person becomes a necessity if you desire success. People count on me every day to have it ready and I do my best to do that in whatever situation I find myself in.
JH: What advice would you give to a player whose dream gets cut short?
KH: For those who do not achieve their dreams of making it to "The Show" I would recommend learning as much about the game as possible because the younger generation of baseball players are eager to learn. The other side of the game (coaching) is extremely rewarding when you find guys that want to be great and win championships which we are finding here at Malone.
JH: What would you like to say to the friends and fans you made along the way?
KH: I would just like to thank my family, coaches, friends and fans for their support. When you're in the minor leagues working towards getting to the top of your profession, it can be extremely lonely. At times, you're by yourself or with guys you haven't had time to get to know, all while doing it in a foreign part of the country. Those texts and calls I received along the way while playing kept me and a lot of other guys going.
JH: One final question ... You provided me with one of the most memorable moments since I started writing my blog when you and Luis Cruz combined for a no-hitter on Mother's Day 2013. I interviewed you after the game and you were so calm and cool about it. Were you really that calm about it? I would have been losing my mind!
KH: Whenever I was on the mound, I tried to be a rock. What I mean by that is, I wanted to be solid for my teammates and coaches. I tried not to allow anything to break me. So to answer your question, yes I was really that calm. I expected great things to happen every time a coach gave me the ball. I tried to make history every time I took the mound. Every starting pitcher begins with a perfect game and no hitter, it's the great ones that see how long they ride those scenarios out. That Mother's Day in 2013, it came together for Luis [Cruz] and I. I will never forget that afternoon in Southern California and I can't thank Luis and the defense enough for finishing that job so I could be a part of it.
Kyle Hallock - May 12, 2013 No-hitter
Thank you for your time, Kyle, and thank you for the memories!