Matt Duffy Is The Giant In All Of Us


Last week, Tom Duffy–father of San Francisco Giants‘ third baseman Matt–published a beautiful piece on The Player’s Tribune chronicling his son’s journey from little league to the majors.

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The piece featured photos from the Duffy family’s personal collection along with the occasional anecdote to provide a little context to the situation. I highly recommend taking a look at it alongside Duffy’s own submission to the site. The pictures show the 2015 Rookie of the Year candidate growing up.

And it was special.

The piece really resonated with me and I wasn’t sure why at first. After I finished reading the stories and clicking through all the pictures, I went back and did it again. Then it hit me.

Sep 9, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Matt Duffy against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Seeing your favorite athletes outside of the lines, doing “normal” things in a “normal setting” is sometimes strange, but cool, like a novelty of sorts.

Reading and, more importantly, seeing Matt Duffy‘s journey was, in a way, comforting. Matt Duffy, the World Champion, is just a regular guy; someone we can all relate to and that’s what makes him so great.

Scrolling through the wonderfully shot photos, it almost felt like I was looking through my own photo albums. One picture showed Duffy in a post-game huddle with his teammates, stuffing his face with a cupcake without missing a single word his coach was saying. It reminded me of the post game snacks that someone’s mom would bring, win or lose (note: Goldfish and Capri Sun were the best combo).

Over the last five years, the Giants have put together a roster of characters. Often labeled “misfits,” they captured the identity of the city as a collective, but individually there’s something missing. Madison Bumgarner‘s Paul Bunyan-esque heroics, Buster Posey‘s Captain America demeanor, and Hunter Pence‘s….existence are enjoyable, but aren’t relatable. The zoo animals, hairdos, and every other persona came together to build a championship culture.

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For fans, having someone to look to as a familiar figure is just as important as the eccentricity. This is where the beauty of Matt Duffy lies. For all intents and purposes, he could be your neighbor or your friend or someone you know.

Duffy’s story wasn’t anything spectacular, but it was real. The parent that embarrassed you with the camera that was always pointed at you. The oversized glove/hat/uniform. Being overlooked because you didn’t necessarily have “the look.” The time learning the game from our favorite players, the league’s brightest stars. All of it was real.

While the Tim Lincecum‘s and Joe Panik‘s of the world set themselves apart from everyone with their freakish motions and austere attitude respectively, it’s Duffy’s ordinary approach that makes him extraordinary. He’s just a guy with a cat who loves baseball, practiced harder than everyone else, and made it to the top.

In the piece, Tom Duffy wrote that they never spoke of the Major Leagues, but rather they would just talk about getting to the next level. Duffy wasn’t gifted with some larger-than-life attribute and he wasn’t taught unconventional techniques that were equally as confusing as they were effective. Instead, the photos paint a different picture. Just a few years ago, Matt Duffy was an ordinary kid. One that probably liked to play video games just as much as he liked to play baseball.

Over the last several years, we’ve had the chance to watch Matt Duffy grow from an 18th round pick to a top Rookie of the Year candidate. We love Matt Duffy because he can do almost everything on a baseball diamond. Now, I’m not saying that there is nothing relatable about any other player because that’s not the case, but Duffy has that extra something special.

Another homegrown product, that phrase seems to ring a little bit truer after seeing this professional baseball player as a kid hitting off a tee. Duffy — though not a cuddly animal with long locks and a perfect tan — is just as much a part of this team’s identity as any of the other wackier figures who populate San Francisco’s roster.

His dad showed us that Duffy was just a kid who loved baseball.

Duffy admitted that he was overwhelmed by the bright lights of the big leagues and, at a time when Bumgarner and Posey’s unflappable nature is in the forefront, it’s heartwarming to hear a human reaction. We all get wide — eyed in a new place, whether it’s at work or school or some place else — so it’s nice to see that we’re not alone.

He’s genuine and he fits in perfectly amongst all the characters in the Bay Area. Third base at Third and King is in good hands for the foreseeable future. Matt Duffy is a Giant we can all see in ourselves.

Next: Arrieta's SubPar Start Puts Bumgarner's 2014 In Perspective