Oct. 8, 2013

 

Meet Virginia Tech's Pat Mason

By Sean Ryan

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder

sean@collegebaseballinsider.com @collbaseball

 

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 always done.

 

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 person.


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 of pitching?

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.