Oct. 8, 2013
Meet Virginia Tech's Pat Mason
By Sean Ryan
Pat Mason played for Pete Hughes when he was a
player and Hughes was an assistant at Northeastern. Mason
coached with Hughes first at Boston College and most recently at
Virginia Tech. When Hughes was announced as Oklahoma’s new head
coach after the 2013 season, it wouldn’t have been a surprise
had Mason again followed one of his mentors.
Instead, after 16 years as an assistant coach,
Mason will lead a program for the first time.
A former catcher, Mason has built a reputation as
a pitching coach. At Virginia Tech, his staffs have lowered
their ERAs in each of his three seasons, and 10 Hokies pitchers
have signed pro contracts.
First Inning – After 16 seasons as an
assistant coach, how does it feel to finally be a head coach?
Feels great! And to be able to do it here at
Virginia Tech is an unbelievable opportunity. As an assistant
you just work as hard as you can, try to make good decisions and
have faith that an opportunity will come to you. That’s what
happened here, so I think in a way it justifies the last 16
years of my life. The trick now is to continue to do what I have
Second Inning – You coached with Pete Hughes
at Boston College and again at Virginia Tech? What did you learn
from the coach you replace?
I learned you can expect to win while doing
things the right way. There is a lot that goes into doing
things the right way, but the main focus is in the classroom, in
the community and socially. Being able to coach next to Coach
Hughes and play for him three years while he assisted at
Northeastern was an incredible experience, he is a special
Third Inning – Was there any thought of
following Hughes to Oklahoma?
Mr. Weaver, our AD, acted very quickly and
confidently when naming me as the next Head Coach here at VT, so
fortunately I didn’t have too much time to think about what my
next move was to be. The opportunity to follow Coach Hughes to
Oklahoma was there for me, but I never had to consider it.
Fourth Inning – Which do you prefer to coach?
Pitchers or catchers? Or do they go hand in hand for you? And
which is tougher?
That’s a good question, you can put hitters in
that mix as well. I just enjoy working with players on the field
regardless of position. I am pretty passionate about all of them
so I guess I don’t have a preference.
Fifth Inning – A former catcher
yourself, how difficult was it to learn and teach the mechanics
Not too difficult, for 23 years of my life, all I
did was watch pitchers throwing me the ball. I feel as though my
eye is trained as good as anyone’s. The catcher in me also
doesn’t allow our pitchers to use mechanics as a crutch, so I
feel a pretty good balance when working with pitchers.
Sixth Inning – How has being a former
catcher helped you develop as a coach?
I believe that position really forces you to
develop leadership skills and communication skills and develop
them at an early age. So it has had a huge impact. The position
also forces you to see what everyone else is doing and learn
why, which really raises your baseball knowledge.
Seventh Inning – You spent four years coaching
with Harwich in the Cape. Describe that experience.
It was fun, really worked with some great people
up there. Being able to watch Coach Englert communicate and work
with his players was great for me and my development. I was also
able to coach alongside my high school coach and current Wheaton
College assistant Peter Pasquarosa, whom I consider one of the
best baseball minds in the game as well as a great friend.
Eighth Inning – What are three things
you look for when recruiting catchers?
Arm strength, arm action and athleticism. Arm
strength is tough to teach, arm action is not typically
something you can change at a high success rate and if you’re
athletic, you can develop the other necessary skills.
Ninth Inning – What are three things you look
for when recruiting pitchers?
Strike throwers, a plus breaking ball and
competitors. A pitcher who has these three qualities can win at
the ANY level.