The Wil Myers story (Part One) “The Redneck from Thomasville”
(Photo by Minda Haas) (Photo Collection courtesy of Pam Myers)
This is a 5 part article/interview on Wil Myers featuring interviews with Wil and people in his life
Some people were put on this planet born with a gift. Ted Williams said â€œGood hitters arenâ€™t born theyâ€™re made.â€Â That is great and I do believe it takes work on a craft to excel at it. But, it can also be said that Ted Williams was blessed with beyond perfect eye sight and large hands and maybe he wasnâ€™t born to hit, but man did he have a pretty good head start. William Bradford Myers is no different, when you know his story it is pretty obvious William Bradford Myers was born with a couple of laps lead in the hitting department.
Many people enter this world and their parents recognize their child is unique. While William is a family name Pam Myers knew her son was not a Bill or a William. Her little boy was different and being different means you get one L and not two. So, William Bradford became Wil.
Pam Myers was a very good athlete in high school lettering in volleyball, basketball, and softball. Wilâ€™s father Eric was a solid athlete growing up playing baseball and participating in recreational football while in the Marines. He stayed active in sports while Wil was growing up playing basketball, volleyball, and softball in local leagues. It is easy to see why Wil is as gifted as he is but you still have to want to play sports and at a very early age Pam says Wil took to the game of baseball.
â€œHe started baseball as soon as he could walk, he always had a ball in his hand and he was playing t-ball at five years old. He played in leagues until he was nine.â€
Wil didnâ€™t like to sit still and being inside was boring. â€œI didnâ€™t watch much TV, the neighborhood kids werenâ€™t big athletes so we would play in the woodsâ€¦I donâ€™t remember playing sports with them but I was never inside. I didnâ€™t like to sit, I had too much energy.â€ He didnâ€™t even watch much baseball because he says he was just too hyper to stay inside. If he did catch an inning or so of baseball if it was on TBS watching the Braves and Chipper Jones.
In fact, Wil only went to one pro game in his life before the draft. â€œI remember going to a Braves game and we sat behind the 3B dugout. One of the Braves flipped me a ball and I always recall my only big league game I got a ball.â€
â€œThe neighborhood kids didnâ€™t play sports so his dad was his biggest influence as he always found time to work with Wil on hitting and throwing. â€œ His mom says he was always throwing the ball against the wall or playing catch with his dad. Wil remembers loving the game at an early age. â€œI remember in kid pitch I was the only kid who could throw the ball across the infield. I just felt at that age I was better than these guys. I donâ€™t want to sound arrogant but I just knew I was better.â€
Wil played soccer, a little basketball and YMCA football until middle school. He was small for his age and he admits he did not like getting hit. â€œIn the 8th grade I played QB and I had a good arm. If I started earlier I would have been betterâ€¦but baseball was always my passion.â€
His high school baseball coach Scott Davis believes he would have been a great QB. â€œHis public school was grooming him to be a freshman QB. He had the arm, speed, and eventually size that he would have been a good one, a really good one.â€
Wil began to play with some competitive teams at the age of 9 when he was picked up for a 10-year-old travel team. He was just a pinch runner to start the season and while small for his age he began to show everyone he was capable of hanging with everyone on the field and by the end of the season he was holding his own against kids 2 years older.
In his early years he played baseball with future professional baseball players like Garrison Lassiter (Yankees) and at 11 he played with future North Carolina Star and Twins #1 pick Levi Michael. He and Levi remain very good friends.
As junior high was finishing up and Wil was being groomed to be the next QB and baseball star at High Point Central, the Myers family had a friend who suggested the family should consider sending Wil to private school at Wesleyan Academy. After the 8th grade Wil worked out for the baseball coach Scott Davis and Davis told the family if you get him to me as a freshman I can get him a D-1 scholarship. Pam liked the coach and she knew the small environment would fit her son well.
Coach Davis has built an excellent baseball program in his 11 years. He admits that student-athletes are willing to drive an hour to the school and with no transfer rules he is able to build a solid program. He has sent several players to D-1 programs and the pros.
He remembers getting a call from Pam Myers in the summer of 2005 that Wil had interest in going to school. He told her he could not do anything until the proper paperwork was filled out. Wil came up to work out for his future coachâ€¦.Davis remembers â€œhe wasnâ€™t big, he was small and wiry and I threw him BPâ€¦it was obvious he could hit and had tremendous potential. I knew we were getting a good athlete and I knew he was a QB prospect but we didnâ€™t have football so I wanted to be sure he was willing to give that up.â€
Coach Davis played him in CF as a freshman and after 3-4 games he knew he was not ready defensively. He knew he was going thru a growth spurt and was gangly. His feet were growing and he got bad jumps and tripped over his feet. â€œI moved him to 3B and he was All-State batting over .500 even though he never played 3B before… Wil had very supportive parents and I never had a problem with them, my reputation is that I play the best, regardless of age. I donâ€™t care who your mommy and daddy is. If you win a job it is yours and Wil was that good as a freshmanâ€¦.I knew he was a special player.â€
Wil came back as a sophomore and Coach Davis says he had gotten lazy. He was so good but just going through the motions. â€œHe was still super but I told him if you want to play at the next level, a guy like Ray Tanner (South Carolina Head Coach) wasnâ€™t gonna put up with that. I got on his case and we had a sit down and it all just seemed to work after that.â€
Wil admits he was pretty immature his first two years and regrets it â€œI was a jerk, kind of cocky kidâ€¦it was just a phase I know but I regret itâ€¦.My last two years I was a lot nicer and had a lot of friends. I liked the school so much, I graduated with 80 kids.â€
I brought up this comment to Coach Davis and he jumped quickly saying â€œWil said that? He doesnâ€™t have a mean bone in his body.â€
After his sophomore season Coach Davis knew it was time to groom his young playerâ€¦
â€œI coached him different, I began coaching him not for this level but also preparing him for the next. I told him what to expect, he was just so dang talented. We had some tough times, but I had his best interest and he knew that.â€
His junior year he pitched, batted clean up, and played 1B and C. He had already committed to South Carolina. Coach Davis liked his arm and knew he could pitch and Wil was never going to back down from a challenge. â€œHe threw 88 off the mound and touched 90 and he had a change-up that was just devastating. His hands were so big the ball looked like a ping-pong ball in them.â€
Davis added,â€œhe taught himself to pitchâ€¦at first he would try to blow it by guys so on occasion he would get roughed up. But he learned and went 10-0 that season.â€
Wil was very solid as a junior on the mound, but for the first time in his life he struggled with the bat. â€œI hit .330 with three home runs and that was not very good.â€Â Coach Davis said he began to get himself out.
Wesleyan rolled into the state playoffs and was set to play powerhouse and 3 time state champion Forsythe Country Day. The Forsyth star was Luke Bard, the younger brother of Daniel who had won a pair of titles during his prep career. Wesleyanâ€™s ace pitcher was Michael Dimock (College at Wake ForestÂ 2012 draft pick by the Astros) but before the game Coach Davis told his assistant he was starting Wil. â€œI had a D-1 pitcher in Dimock that is who they expected and I told Wil people thought I was crazy for starting him. Wil asked me who said that and I repeated I believed in himâ€¦he was so focused he never cracked a smile.â€
Wesleyan had a 6-4 lead in the 6th and the 2, 3, 4 hitters were due up. â€œI pulled Wil and put in Dimockâ€¦Wil was mad as fire I took him out but I told him we needed to change looksâ€¦Right away I could tell Dimock didnâ€™t have it. He gave up a 400 plus shot, walked a guy got an out but I knew he didnâ€™t have it. I walked to the mound and Wil was walking in from SS and he walked towards the mound to come back in. I just handed him the ball and the other team thought it was a joke. He threw 2 pitches and got a double play.â€ Wesleyan won their first state championship!
The Myers family knew that Wil was a special player when he signed with South Carolina as a sophomore but they had no idea just how special he was until after his junior season. Pam says South Carolina Coach Ray Tanner told them something his junior year. Pam says Coach Tanner said â€œI appreciate you signing but he wonâ€™t ever step foot on campus. If he takes less than 2 million I will be disappointed.â€
Coach Davis says Myers really developed as a ball player as a senior. He said that Myers got himself out a lot as a junior and he knew that he was too good to make it easier on the pitcher. He just took the attitude that if they walk you, they walk you. â€œI think he struck out maybe 2 times as a senior and it seemed every hit was off the eye.â€
â€œWil left my program and it is hard for me to not compare everyone to Wil. That is not fair but not only was he super talented, his mental approach was so good. He doesnâ€™t take himself seriously. He handled failure better than anyone I have ever seen. His happy go lucky attitude really transcended this team. He is as good of an athlete to ever come out of this area. He is big, fast, a freak. You donâ€™t have that kind of athlete often. I havenâ€™t seen anyone close in 30 years. He is a different bird, nowhere else can run, throw with a rocket arm, hit, and hit for power like him.â€
â€œI donâ€™t let any of my guys do any heckling but other teams sure would and it seemed to only add more fuel to the competitive tank Wil has. He was always under controlâ€¦I remember we were playing Charlotte Christian in 09 and their coach had decided to see how far the super star could hit the ball. He took the second pitch out on a laser. The bigger the moment the bigger he produced. If the chips were down he always came through.â€
After high school it was clear that Wil Myers was going to be a professional baseball player rather than a South Carolina Gamecock. A program that won 2 National Titles in the time Myers would have played. â€œThat team is so good I signed there, Chris Owings and Bryce Harper signed there, and can you imagine that team with us and Jackie Bradley Jr, Christian Walker and the rest of the guys?â€
Coach Davis: â€œHe was such a hard worker and he did whatever you asked of him. He is a quality kid who never drank, smoked; he was just very focused on his goals. I never had any issues with him off the field. He comes back and golfs with me, spends time with the kids still in my program. He loved high school, loves this townâ€¦he is just a sweat pants, t-shirt, hat backwards kind of guy. To me, he will always just be the Redneck from Thomasville.â€
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