MONTVILLE, NJ - Tyler Benson, who is a Montville alumnus, former Bloomsburg University Husky, and the San Diego Padres’ newest prodigy, paid a visit to his old stomping grounds, Montville's Muni Baseball Fields on June 17, just days after learning he had been drafted into major league baseball.
Benson had been invited by the Montville Baseball and Softball Association to commence the 11U travel baseball championship game with a first pitch. As a matter of fact, this was not a completely unfamiliar experience for Benson. Ten years ago, Benson occupied a spot on the other side of the same baseline wearing Mustang green and white. He stood alongside his 11U travel baseball teammates as they won the championship game in 2007.
Benson transferred the skills he obtained from the Montville program into the Bloomsburg University baseball program when he entered college. As one of only seven players to make it into the big leagues, Benson is the first Husky to be drafted since 1989.
Benson’s predecessors, a good attitude and dedication all fueled the rise of his career and eventually led him to accomplishing his wildest dream of becoming a professional baseball player; an achievement most young players only dream of.
“It was really cool to have that good of a player come from Montville," Montville 11U travel player Justin Vogt said. "It really inspired us to work our hardest, as anything can happen.”
Teammate Jason Vogt agreed, adding, "Even our opponents for the championship game were excited about having an actual MLB player on our field."
Teammate Michael Fedele said, “We were told that someone special was here to throw the first pitch, and that person arrived. Wow! He is the guy from Montville that got drafted to the Padres. We were all so excited to see him.”
Moments after the first pitch was thrown, TAPinto Montville talked with Benson about his journey.
1. What was the day that you were drafted like, for you and everyone close to you?
The day I got drafted was a really humbling experience. It really showed that all of my work has paid off. I honestly could not believe it at first. I was honored and happy that the Padres took a chance on me.
2. After just recently learning that you have made it into the big leagues, what does being back on the field where it all started mean to you?
Coming back to the Muni Fields after playing here while growing up, and now finally having my dream come true, is honestly a great experience. Ten years ago, I never thought I would be in this spot. It is nice coming back to see all of the support from the community and everybody here. Letting me throw out the first pitch before the game is great. I am honored to be from Montville and I will never forget that.
3. Who or what was it that introduced you to the game of baseball, and who inspires you to be your best?
My dad introduced me to the game. He said that I picked it up by myself, but I know he pushed me. Throughout my entire life he always pushed me, whenever I got lazy, tired, or did not want to play, he would push me, get me off of the couch, and play with me. I would not be in the spot I am in now without him.
4. Upon entering major league baseball, do you think about any player in particular who entered the league in a particular fashion whom you worshipped, that you may use as a model for your own?
When I look at the major leagues, I can’t really think of anybody who relates to me. I took a kind of unconventional way; I went to a small division II school where that last person to be drafted into the MLB was 1989. I really just wanted a chance to play. I didn’t go to the big D1 school. It turns out that when you talk to the right people, and get the right people to see you, you can make it from anywhere.
5. What aspect of the Bloomsburg Huskies Baseball program do you think fostered most of your success on and off the field?
My coach taught me a lot about teamwork; he always emphasized that 28 beats 9, which means everybody on the team beats the nine people playing on the field. He always drilled that into us. He really helped me learn that it is everybody and not just the people playing and that start, but it is everybody that you need to win and have fun.
6. What is one piece of advice you can give for the young players who have a dream that you made a reality for yourself: to become a professional baseball player?
A piece of advice that I would tell all of the kids is just to always chase your dreams and never settle for anything less. If you work hard, I guarantee you will get to where you want to be. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would have gotten drafted, but I worked hard and wished to pursue my dream, and it became a reality now,so I am just ready to enjoy the ride.
Unfortunately, the championship game fell short of a finish that Saturday morning due to extreme rain, but the remaining two outs were completed on the following Tuesday.
As for Montville’s fate, the team faced a deficit of six runs as the game came to a close. After beating Jefferson in the regular season, there were no tricks up their sleeves as they simply connected the bat to the ball.
“We didn't bring our defensive game, and they took full advantage of it,” Jason Vogt admitted.
The Mustangs left their season taking an impressive 16-3 record with them. Justin Vogt displayed admirable sportsmanship saying, “We still had fun even though we lost. It didn't feel as bad to lose because they were a good team and they played really well.”