The sweetest swing in the West Coast League courtesy of Bells DH Jack Machtolf. (Photo by Jason Grohoske)
Jack Machtolf is an Outfielder/DH/1B for the Bellingham Bells in the West Coast League. The Redshirt Junior to be at Gonzaga University is currently hitting .321 for the Bells with 1 home run and 27 RBIs on the season while scoring 22 runs. Jack has an on-base-percentage of .407 while slugging his way to a .438, astonishing numbers for a player coming into his own. Machtolf even hasn’t committed an error in the field this season, quite an impressive stat alone. The All-Star Game MVP recently sat down with Seattle Sports Union for a tell-it-all interview.
SSU: Welcome Jack Machtolf. Thank you for taking the time to sit down with the Seattle Sports Union. How are you?
JM: I am great. Thank you for having me.
SSU: We did some research on you Jack Machtolf, but we want to hear it from you. Is there really a 9-Mile Falls? Is that where you are from? Where is it?
JM: (Laughs), yes there is a 9-Mile Falls. It is just outside Spokane, Washington. It is just a 2-ominute drive to Spokane from where I grew up.
SSU: So, it really isn’t 9 miles from outside Spokane because the internet says different?
JM: No, (laughs) it really is a quick drive for us to Spokane from where we live.
SSU: When did you start playing baseball?
JM: Ever since I was a little guy, I have played baseball. I would say since I was 3 years old, I started playing. Ever since I could walk, I have always swung a bat. My Dad coached me growing up and I’ve loved every minute of it.
SSU: I see you play a variety of positions from outfield to 1b. Do you have a favorite position you prefer to play?
JM: I love wherever they need me to play. My favorite is first base. I am left-handed and I can’t play any other infield positions plus it’s fun to play first base. Lots of excitement. Realistically though, I know I will be an outfielder for the rest of my career however long that may be. I have the size and the skill to play in the outfield.
SSU:: I noticed you play DH a lot, including tonight. Do you mind playing that position?
JM: I have done it a lot. I don’t mind. It is nice to have breaks where one only must concentrate on their offense. It gives your feet a rest not having to play in the field too. Tonight, was not one of my best performances.
SSU: Hey, at least you made contact when you were at the plate and you did reach base. It was a tough loss. Victoria’s pitcher was unhittable. It is what it is.
SSU: Where did you go to high school Jack?
JM: I went to high school at Gonzaga Prep.
SSU: Did you play only baseball?
JM: I played four years of baseball and four years of football. I was a linebacker in football.
SSU: What sport do you like more?
JM: In high school I loved football more than baseball but then I went off to Gonzaga University to play baseball. By the time high school was over I realized that baseball was more realistic for me due to my size. I was happy with my choice and had no regrets.
SSU: So, you went off to Gonzaga to play baseball for you father Mark Machtolf has been head coach there for several years? Why Gonzaga when I’m sure you had plenty of other choices such as W.S.U and many others?
JM: All my life I wanted to play for Gonzaga and no where else. Playing for my dad didn’t matter to me. He coached me growing up as a kid. He has helped me become who I am today. It was quite an adjustment at first. I redshirted my first season, but the next couple years were an adjustment period for me. I knew I had to prove myself. I had insecurities but I have no regrets. It helped my confidence always having to prove myself and here I am today finally having a successful season. It really has been a blessing for me!
SSU: I must ask if that’s ok, did your Dad ride you hard because you were his son?
JM: No, he is very professional. He separates our relationship on the baseball field and treats me the same as the other guys on the team.
SSU: So, you are saying he makes you run the same sprints as the team on the field but when you get home, you must do extra chores if you make a mistake?
JM: Ha, Ha! No, it’s all good, no extra chores 😊.
SSU: So, you are going to be a redshirt Junior in the fall. What is your major in school and what do you want to do with your degree down the road after you retire from baseball?
JM: I have decided to major in Sports Management after changing my major from PE to Psychology to now Sports Management. This was the right decision and I was blessed that I was able to transfer some PE credits to help me graduate on time. Honestly, I’m not sure what I will do with the degree just yet. I’m enjoying my time right now and taking each day as it comes. When the time is right, I will know what I want to do with my degree.
SSU: How many siblings do you have? Did they play sports?
JM: I have two older brothers. They played college baseball but hung up their cleats after that.
SSU: I hear you have a famous Grandfather who played professional football. Is that true? Sounds like you have a family of football fanatics!
JM: Ha, Ha. Yes, I do. He played I believe one year in the NFL for the Rams. He also attended Loyola Marymount way back in the day when they had a football program. My grandfather was a 208-pound offensive lineman. My entire family loves football. I love football. I have learned to be locked in on Saturdays to watch college football during the season.
SSU: Congratulations on making the West Coast League All-Star game and being named MVP! What was your reaction? How cool was it to attend the game with five other Bell teammates?
JM: Thank you so much! I was so excited when I got the call. I knew the opportunity was finally there for me this season, but I didn’t realize it until they called. Being able to attend with my teammates was surreal. Guthrie Morrison, who plays centerfield for the Bells and plays on Gonzaga with me, also made it. He is my best friend and to be able to play with him was cool.
SSU: What’s it like to play in Bellingham these last two summers?
JM: I love it up here. I have been blessed with a wonderful host family and the setup here is incredible. What a beautiful city and ballpark to play in!
SSU: Stephanie Morrell is an amazing General Manager and person. What is it like playing for her?
JM: She is awesome to play for. She works so hard to keep this team and ballpark going. Stephanie is a first-class human being and I consider myself blessed to be playing for her ballclub.
SSU: What’s the next step Jack to playing in MLB one day? Are there scouts looking at you?
JM: I know for me to continue my success that I must produce next season and prove that this summer was no fluke. Just the thought of being drafted is exciting! I would love to play in the MLB one day.
SSU: Do you have a favorite MLB player that you model your game after perhaps?
JM: Matt Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals is a favorite player of mine who I like to think I model my game after. He has the same story as mine. He plays hard in every game on the field and at the plate. He went to T.C.U. for college and had a tough first few years there where he underperformed. Finally, Matt got better and got drafted and carried that into the MLB where he is a star with the Cardinals today. He and his story really strike a chord with me.
SSU: Besides the Seattle Mariners, who is your favorite MLB team?
JM: Ha, Ha. The St. Louis Cardinals are my other favorite team along with the Mariners.
SSU: What does Jack Machtolf like to do when he’s not playing baseball?
JM: I love to fish, I’m not very good at it but I don’t care. I’m outdoors and just love the fresh air. I also love to hunt with my family.
SSU: What is your favorite sports movie of all-time and why?
JM: The movie Miracle on Ice is probable my favorite. I don’t skate or follow hockey, but that movie really jacks me up!
SSU: If they made a movie about you, who would you say would portray you and why?
JM: What a great question! I would say Chris Pratt because we both have similar characteristics. I really love his work on tv and in film.
SSU: So, would it be the Chris Pratt of “Parks & Recreations” or “Guardians of the Galaxy”?
JM: I would say both (laughs).
SSU: If you weren’t a Bellingham Bell, what kind of a Bell would you be? For example, a cow bell or a church bell, or even a recess bell!
JM: I would be the Liberty Bell with a crack in it. The one in Philadelphia. It gives character and is quite valuable. That’s the bell I would be.
SSU: Two more questions and we will send you on your way. Thank you for your patience and taking the time to talk to us Jack. In my opinion, after watching you all summer, you have all the characteristics to be a 5-tool player. In your opinion what part of your game do you think you need to work on?
JM: Thank you for the nice words. I would say probably my speed. I was good in the past but lately that is something I feel I need to work on. Maybe my power too. There is always room for improvement to work on all aspects of my game.
SSU: Final question for my boss (laughs.) Hiking, sailing, diving, one-on-one or video games?
JM: Hmm, I’d probably say sailing because I have never done it before.
SSU: Thank you Jack. Best of luck to you with the rest of the season and your future professional career. We know you are going to do great.
JM: Thank you guys! This was fun. Take care.