Face Time: Jeff Holm
One of the proudest moments of Jeff Holm’s life came at McLane Baseball Stadium at Old College Field.
Following an MSU baseball team victory over Northwestern, Holm was part of a massive dogpile of his teammates and closest friends, celebrating the first Big Ten championship for the program since 1979.
A successful career capped with a championship, Holm was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 12th round of the 2011 MLB Draft, and now is a member of the Class-A Minor League West Michigan Whitecaps.
The State News caught up with Holm to discuss his time at MSU, the life of a professional baseball player and his recent successes with the Whitecaps.
State News: You’ve been having a pretty phenomenal season with the Whitecaps. Can you talk about how you’ve been able to be so successful so far?
Jeff Holm: “I worked a lot with my hitting coach and manager in spring training. I worked on some stuff and I’ve listened to (the manager) and he’s been right so far. I’ve been able to put together some quality at-bats.”
SN: After being a first baseman in college, you were drafted as an outfielder. How has that transition been, and what’s been the biggest thing you’ve learned in switching positions?
JH: “Well I’ve played left (field), right (field) and first base this year so I’m moving around, which is fun. It’s nice to mix up scenery once in a while. You know, everywhere I’ve been — Michigan State, everywhere in the Tigers’ organization — I’ve had fantastic coaches and they’re patient with me and I like working with them. I take a lot away from them.”
SN: A few guys from the 2011 MSU Big Ten championship team have retired from baseball, namely Brandon Eckerle and Kurt Wunderlich. What’s your relationship with these guys now, and how often are you in contact with one another?
JH: “Brandon’s getting married soon and he’s in law school so he’s got quite a bit on his plate now. It’s good to keep up with him. I haven’t talked to Kurt in a while, but he’s smart and I’m sure he’s doing great things right now. I check in every weekend series for Michigan State and I’ve always really enjoyed checking up on guys I played with and I try to stay in touch with them because baseball makes a family and lifelong friends.”
SN: Although stifled by weather recently, this season’s MSU baseball team has proved competitive in the conference. How often are you able to follow them and know what’s going on?
JH: “Well, I know there’s a lot of young talent and they’re going to be good for years to come, especially with Coach Boss recruiting the guys he does. You know, even a bad season is a good season. It’s Michigan baseball and it’s not gonna be great, but I know they’re out there battling and they’re doing the best they can.”
SN: Where do you see yourself as a ballplayer and as a person in the next five years? What do you hope to accomplish both in baseball and in life?
JH: “Baseball is a business and it is what it is. I’ve always tried to do the best I can do and hopefully I’m around helping out a team.”
SN: Do you see yourself still playing?
JH: “I want to play baseball as long as my body will let me and as long a team will have me.”
SN: Given the strong reputation it has across the spectrum of the game, what has it been like being a part of the Detroit Tigers’ organization?
JH: “Oh, it’s fantastic. They treat you like a professional and from top to bottom, from the coaches to the managers, they give you nothing but respect and it’s really nice to be treated like an adult and have the feeling they trust you.”
SN: How different is that from college?
JH: “For one, the season is a little bit longer. Not that people aren’t working hard but you have to take into consideration trying not to break down over the course of the year so a lot of things are more deliberate and it’s quality, not quantity.”