By Nate Temple
“I was sitting down at work, looking myself in the computer screen, and asked ‘what am I doing with my life?’” Those were Miners pitcher Mike Syrett’s words when contemplating his future after battling through numerous adversities.
Syrett, 27, started off fighting adversity when he was in high school because he lacked size and was thrown right away into the workforce.
“I never played varsity baseball [in high school],” Syrett said. “I was really small at four-foot-11-inches and 95 pounds. I left high school a little early to go work [at Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort]. I went to Mammoth Mountain with three of my best friends, and I was a lift operator there.”
“I grew six inches in back-to-back summers. Then, I decided to go back and play baseball.”
When his three friends left for Alaska to pursue work opportunities, he stayed to pursue his dream in baseball. He found out that his friends passed away in a car wreck. Syrett saw it as an opportunity to chase his dream with even more motivation.
“I took that as a sign from God that if I want to go down the right path, then I need to play baseball. I pursued it even harder.”
“To say that [the passing] motivated me would be an understatement. Life is short. It motivated me, but it also opened up my eyes to the fact that you have a passion for a reason. There is a burning desire in my body to be a competitor. I need to compete, and whether it’s on the baseball field, in the classroom, or just to simply be a better person, I am competing against myself.”
However, he was forced out of baseball for two years after running into the wrong crowd and getting in trouble with the law.
“Everything that I worked for up to that point was taken from me and I learned from it,” Syrett said.
During his time away from the game, the Huntington Beach, CA, native went back home and worked a variety of jobs while hoping that he would get a chance to play again.
“I went home and worked three jobs,” Syrett said. “I was a collector for a rehab facility as I worked in the lab and directly with clients, I was an Uber driver, and I was a college baseball coach under [former scouting director of the Cleveland Indians and World Series Champion] Doug Baker with ATH (Around the Horn) Baseball Academy. [ATH] is a small organization where we take troubled youth in as well as collegiate student athletes, and we promote them and develop their skills.”
While working with ATH, he finally got the chance he was looking for.
“On Easter Sunday, Doug came up to me and asked me if I wanted to pitch,” Syrett said.” “I haven’t touched a baseball in two years, and he said ‘you really need to come up here and give it a shot. I have a guy coming to watch you and he will give you an honest evaluation.’ I threw about six innings and I did really well. I had about eight strikeouts, and I hit a home run at the plate as well.”
His performance earned himself a scholarship to play for Georgetown College, an NAIA school located in Georgetown, KY. He would become an independent student, and he left his family, friends, dog, and girlfriend behind to pursue a dream.
After posting “good enough” stats with the Tigers in 2016, Syrett was recruited to play for the Miners with the help of one of the team’s former players.
“Former Miner Clayton Prestige contacted me asking what I was doing this summer,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to go back to coaching or playing. He mentioned the Miners, and he talked about how good they were. I was on board, and he said he would make a call to Coach [Tim] Ep[ling]. I guess my stats were good enough for Coach Epling to recruit me on to the Miners.”
Syrett described the atmosphere as pleasant, and he loves being with the guys who root for each other to do well. In addition to a great group of teammates, he’s grateful for being surrounded by a top-notch coaching staff.
“The coaching staff is really well-versed and there is a bucket of knowledge all over this place,” he said. “If you’re willing to learn something new every time that you come to the ball field, then these guys are here for you. They are going to teach you something, and they are open books.”
After the completion of the Miners’ season, the right-hander will be taking his talents to Missouri Baptist University this fall to prolong his baseball journey.
“I don’t want to look back and say ‘I should’ve, would’ve, could’ve,’” Syrett said. “I want to look back and say that I tried my hardest and I did everything in my power to execute my goals, and I’ve started to surround myself with people that will help me pursue those dreams.”