The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

May 18, 2013

Ex-Majors make return to Enid for Alumni exhibition

By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Saturday was a time for Matt Peck and his former Enid American Legion teammates to set back the clock.

For Peck, it was 2005 again when he and his Majors teammates shocked the world by being the first Oklahoma team to win the American Legion World Series.

Didn’t matter if he hadn’t pitched since the 2010 season for Oklahoma State. This night he was 18 years old again.

“There’s a lot of special memories,’’ Peck said. “There’s a lot of guys here that I respect ... we all love to play this game. I’m glad we got a good turnout.’’

Peck then fought of the one teammate who wasn’t there — Austin Box, who died two years ago. Box’s No. 7 jersey hanged in the dugout of Peck’s team.

“I wish he was here,’’ Peck said. “I know he would have been out here cracking jokes with the best of them.’’

That kind of camaraderie was what brought him back.

“We were real close,’’ he said. “It was just a good group of guys. What I miss most is being out here with the guys ... showing up on the ballfield and cracking jokes and having fun. We played in front of good crowds. I just loved it.’’

The best crowd was when the Majors came back after winning the national title in Rapid City, S.D. A crowd of more than 2,000 fans greeted the team when it arrived at David Allen Memorial Ballpark.

“That was just wonderful, sitting outside the stadium and everyone telling us how good a job we did,’’ he said. “We saw signs coming into town congratulating us. There were a couple with everyone’s name on it.’’

Peck’s most lasting memory was the Majors being run-ruled in their first game of the regional in Pine Bluff, Ark. They wouldn’t lose again until the first championship game of the series.

“It was a pretty big whooping,’’ Peck said. “I think we showed a lot of heart in coming back. I didn’t think we were going to win it all after that game ... but if you play this game right, it’s going to reward you.’’

Peck was a little emotional about pitching at David Allen for the first time since 2006.

“It means a lot to come back,’’ he said. “Enid has a lot of tradition and this bring back a lot memories of 2005 and the coaches like Bill (Mayberry), Butch (Lingenfelter) and Chris Jensen. They taught me how to be a better man, person and ballplayer.’’

Peck said “it was going to be a lot of fun’’ pitching to long-time summer catcher Schyler Burns. Peck said he hadn’t worked out for the game and hoped to pitch two innings.

“I’m just going to wing it,’’ Peck said.

Peck lives in Edmond where he is a project manager for a demolition company. He frequently comes back here to see friends and games. He helped with the Connie Mack tryouts Sunday.

“It was hard leaving the game,’’ said Peck, who was an assistant Enid JV coach in 2010., “but it was time for a change. I like my job a lot. You have to grow up sometime.’’

Peck went on to pitch for Cowley County and Oklahoma State. He redshirted one year at OSU after having shoulder surgery.

“I don’t have any regrets,’’ he said. “The shoulder surgery set me back, but I came back as good as I could. I thought my career ended well. I got to play for a Division I school. I’m glad I went to Oklahoma State.’’

He has showed some signs of aging. He’s lost his arm, but not his smile or sense of humor.

“The hair just started  thinning out,’’ he said. “My dad is bald and I have his genes. I wish I had my a hair back for sure.’’

But he had his passion for the game Saturday.

“We’re already doing some trash talking,’’ Peck said with a smile.

Jensen still corresponds with Peck and was glad to see him back.

“I think it says a lot for the program when you have this many guys come from out of town,’’ Jensen said. “I always felt if you had Matt Peck on the mound, you had a chance to beat anybody.’’