Matthew Beam had no choice but to become a standout baseball player.
After all, his father Charlie was an All-Hudson County selection as an outfielder for Dickinson in the late 1980s.
Charlie Beam was a hard-nosed, hard-working feisty player who ignited most of the Rams’ rallies during his heyday.
“Since I started playing T-ball, Dad has been my inspiration,” said Matthew Beam, now a senior first baseman for Ferris. “He taught me to be humble. A lot of people told me that he was a great player. He would take me to the park to play whenever we had the opportunity. He would throw me the ball, teach me to catch. He took me to the batting cages to teach me how to hit. Most definitely, he helped me become a baseball player.”
Matthew Beam attends County Prep, so he had the choice of what school he wanted to play baseball for.
“I always heard stories about Coach [Mike] Hogan, so I wanted to get the chance to play for him,” Beam said of the legendary Hall of Fame Ferris coach. “It’s always good to meet new people and friends, so I looked forward to getting the chance to bond with them.”
Hogan liked Beam’s attitude right away.
“Matthew has always worked hard,” Hogan said. “Sometimes he tries too hard.”
Beam earned his place onto the Bulldogs’ varsity roster as a sophomore and quickly became a fixture at first base.
“Coming in as a sophomore and playing right away was tough, but I always had two of my teammates [Franklin Hernandez and Miguel Valentin] who were going through it as well,” Beam said. “We all went through it together. But it definitely made me more comfortable, having two teammates who were going through the same thing. We always had each other’s backs. We always picked each other up.”
Beam has been a three-year starter for the Bulldogs at first base. For the first two years, Beam was more of a light hitter and solid fielder.
However, a light, maybe even a Beam, went off as he began his senior campaign.
“He’s always played well, but this year, he’s started to hit,” Hogan said. “He’s a lot more confident. I think he realizes he has to play more of a role this year as a senior. In the past, we had more seniors, but this year, he’s had to step it up and show more leadership. I expect that from a senior.”
Hogan said that Beam is more of a leader off the field as well.
“It’s doing the little things,” Hogan said. “Getting the team together on time, getting them on the bus for games and practices, Matthew and the other seniors make sure they’re all doing the right things. We have four freshmen playing on the team, so they need leadership. If they do the right thing, it’s easier than having the coach say it.”
Beam said that he worked hard coming into the season.
“I said to myself that I had to be the best leader on the team that I could be,” Beam said. “As a senior and a three-year starter, I had to set the example for the rest of the team. Maybe I could give them something to build off of.”
Beam exploded out of the box for the Bulldogs, producing a week that is rarely seen.
Beam went nine-for-13 for the week with 12 RBI and seven runs scored. He had a double, triple and home run and five RBI against reigning Hudson Reporter Most Valuable Player Joshua Casado of Memorial, had three hits and two RBI against state-ranked St. Joseph of Metuchen and had two hits, a double and a triple, and four RBI against McNair Academic.
More importantly, Beam led the Bulldogs (5-2-1) to four straight victories.
For his efforts, Beam has been selected as The Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Week. Beam is the first honoree of the spring scholastic sports season.
“I can’t remember anyone having a week like that,” Hogan said.
And he’s been around high school baseball for the last four decades.
“Each game, it seemed like he got better,” Hogan said. “He had four good games in a row and got big hits every game. First base has been a big plus for us thanks to him. This is great for him. With Matthew, it’s never because of a lack of effort. He always tries hard. He’s now getting results.”
Beam knows that it’s only one week. There’s a lot of the season left to play.
“I want to keep the momentum going,” Beam said. “We’re playing great baseball. Even though I’m swinging the bat well, there’s always room for improvement. I’m definitely seeing the ball better than ever, so that helps. I have a lot of confidence now and that helps. I have to keep battling and keep working.”
The game against Casado and Memorial was huge, because the Bulldogs lost to the Tigers in the Ed “Faa” Ford Memorial Hudson County Tournament championship game last season.
“I went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in that game against him,” Beam said. “So going into the game this time, I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t trying to think too much. I just wanted to see the ball and be able to attack it, which I think I did.”
It’s safe to say that the Bulldogs gained a little revenge in their 9-2 victory over the Tigers.
“It’s all pretty amazing,” Beam said. “It’s a great feeling. It’s my last year and I want to make the most of it.”
Beam said that he hopes to be able to play college baseball somewhere in the fall.
“That would be great if it happens,” Beam said. “I just want to keep the momentum going. It feels great to have that kind of confidence.” – Jim Hague.
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.