By Steve Svetovich
Matt Higgins may not always be the biggest star on a baseball diamond, but he is the most positive.
The former Dunmore Bucks shortstop always looks at the bottle as half full.
And that positive outlook is a strong influence on his Marywood University teammates.
Short and somewhat stocky, he doesn’t look like a middle infielder, but he sure plays like one.
He has natural leadership skills that he fully enjoys bringing to the table.
His constant bantering comes both on and off the field. Even on a plane ride to Port Saint Lucie, Florida, when Higgins kept the positive vibe up with constant jabs, humor and banter towards his teammates. And he doesn’t leave any of them out.
Joking about a teammate who is an only child, he said, “Ok, the big question is are you in the family Christmas photo with your parents or by yourself? Oh, I know it’s just you and the dog.”
And it’s that kind of humor that brings his teammates together and has them cackling in laughter.
And he takes a busting or jab better than anyone.
When third base coach Jo Jo Diskin was hit by a foul line drive in Florida, there was complete silence until Higgins ran out and gave his coach a quick massage. Higgins has a unique way of making everything all good.
Son of Sean and Virginia Higgins, Matt, 21, is a 2014 graduate of Dunmore High School. He played four years of baseball at Dunmore and was the varsity starting shortstop his final two seasons.
He played basketball as a freshman and sophomore and soccer as a senior.
Not one to sit and do nothing, he was a member of almost every club at Dunmore and took a particular interest in the Mock Trial group.
He batted .270 and .250 in his junior and senior high school seasons, but his impact came more as a team leader, positive impact on younger players and overall team player.
Mark Finan was his coach. “He expects you to be a leader on and off the field,” the Marywood middle infielder said. “He taught us to play for each other.”
The junior spark plug said he gets both his positivity and humor from his parents.
“They taught me to drop the negatives and look at all the positives in life. They are positive people.
“It takes a man to put all the negatives aside and overcome adversity.
“You have to face your problems and adversity head on and then move on to the positive. I like to look at the positives in life. Enjoy the game of baseball. Enjoy life.”
And Higgins has no problem taking on the role of a leader. In fact, he revels in it. “I like to play the game. We play for each other. I take a positive approach to the game and life in general. I think you need to stay positive and be a good influence on the younger players on the team. They will follow your lead. I have no problem lighting a fire.”
Higgins did not get much playing time his first two seasons with Marywood, but he kept his positive outlook and cheered his teammates on from the dugout.
His playing time has increased this season and he is making the most of it. He played shortstop and second base in Marywood’s doubleheader sweep over Cairn University, 2-1 and 3-1, Saturday, March 25. He had two hits in the second game win.
“We did not open this season on a positive note, but we are playing as a team now. We backed our pitchers up. We will have a positive outlook from this point on. Our team feels we can get a good streak going.
“Our team in general is hitting better now. We are putting the ball in play. We could win a lot more games.
“The team is building character and we are having a lot more fun. We are more of a team now.”
Higgins talked about what it takes to be a solid middle infielder in college baseball.
“You need to put in a lot of time and hard work. You have to trust your hands. And you need to trust your teammates.”
Higgins, not surprisingly, sees a bright future. “We want to make a strong run at the playoffs and win. We want to be a part if something big here.”
He also looks forward to obtaining his degree in architecture, getting a good job and possibly attending graduate school.
In the meantime, he keeps the positive vibes and humor flowing on the baseball diamond at Marywood.
“You have to have fun playing baseball,” he said. “I love this game.”