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Baseball: Matznick following in father's footsteps

Danny Matznick (left) was a star baseball player for Sterling in the late 1980s before 
being drafted by the White Sox. Now, he's back in the Sauk Valley coaching his son, 
Quinton, and the Rock Falls Junior League All-Stars.
Danny Matznick (left) was a star baseball player for Sterling in the late 1980s before being drafted by the White Sox. Now, he's back in the Sauk Valley coaching his son, Quinton, and the Rock Falls Junior League All-Stars.

Danny Matznick admits that he used to be pretty glad to see Rock Falls baseball teams lose.

He also admits that there was a time when he was fairly adamant that his son, Quinton, would never play for Rock Falls.

Of course, he admitted all this Thursday while wearing a white T-shirt with black sleeves with "Rock Falls" written in green across the front.

Obviously, attitudes change.

"I never thought I'd allow him to play with Rock Falls," Danny said. "But a few years ago, he was playing on a travel team, and he formed really good friendships with three or four kids from Rock Falls.

"They were good kids. So, we gave him the choice. He was living with me in Sterling at that point, and he decided he wanted to go to Rock Falls. So he moved in with his mother."

Quinton made his decision and moved in with his mother, Heather Matznick, before his freshman year in high school. After playing on the varsity team for Rock Falls High School last spring, he is now a key cog on the Rock Falls Junior League All-Star team.

Danny is one of the coaches for the team.

The team will begin play Saturday in the Central Regional against the North Dakota state champions at 3 p.m. in Fort Worth, Ind.

"I don't think I would have had this opportunity to play at Central Regional if I had stayed in Sterling," Quinton said. "Baseball has a lot of tradition here."

The Matznick family tradition in baseball is rich, but it was once painted in blue and gold.

Danny is one of the best baseball players to walk the halls of Sterling High School. After graduating in 1989, he was drafted in the fourth round by the Chicago White Sox.

He spent that summer on a rookie team in the Gulf Coast League. The next season he moved up to Class a in South Bend of the Midwest League.

He went 10-7 and threw 121 2/3 innings with 127 strikeouts and 82 walks.

The performance moved him up to High-A Sarasota in 1991. He threw 157 1/3 innings that year, going 5-12.

He returned to Sarasota in the spring of 1992. That's when the problems started.

He blew out his elbow, which required Tommy John surgery. After returning from that, he tore his labrum. He ended up having three surgeries on his shoulder to correct that problem. Toss in surgeries to both his knees, and Danny's playing days were numbered.

"I think there are people out there that just think I quit," Danny said. "I just couldn't get cut open anymore. There wasn't any coming back after that."

Danny, who works at the Wal-Mart Distribution Center, has turned his attention to his son.

"It is all about him now," Danny said. "I did a lot of good things in baseball, but I never got to win a state championship or go to a tournament like the Central Regional."

Quinton's love for the game has blossomed over the years, and Danny admits seeing some of himself in his son.

"Initially, I didn't see that 'want to' out of him for baseball," Danny said. "Over the last year, that has really changed. You can tell he has that drive."

Quinton knows the steps that he's following.

"He's definitely tough on me," Quinton said. "But I know that he knows what he is talking about. I am happy he's able to coach me, because I think it helps us be closer."

Danny also admits that he's happy that Quinton has grown up in the Rock Falls baseball culture.

"You know, I always did everything that I could to beat Rock Falls," Danny said. "But you get over here and you see the way they do things at the youth level, and you have to respect it.

"They do such a good job of bringing every player in, and not just the naturally good ones, and making them a part of the team. When those players leave, they are better."

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