Kinney, Matt (2014)
Somewhere in Mansfield Stadium in Bangor Maine, is a plaque commemorating the 1989 Maine State Little League Champions. As a member of this team, Matt Kinney began a love affair with baseball that took him through youth teams, an exceptional high school career, to 16 years as a professional player. Matt was a slugging first baseman, shortstop, and pitcher at the Little League level.
His parents Jeff and Deborah Kinney supported both their children, Rebecca and Matt, in all their athletic and academic endeavors. They saw Rebecca play Little League baseball and witnessed Matt grow into the most feared and dominant high school pitcher in the State of Maine. Jeff coached his son in Bangor’s Senior League. They won the league title. Matt was valuable and versatile as he played many positions and was a great hitter in both power and average.
Matt went to Bangor High School and excelled in many sports. He played some golf, football, and was a dominant player on the 1995 Eastern Maine class A champion basketball team. He was however a four year varsity player on the baseball team. At Bangor Matt played for the legendary coach Bob Kelly. As a sophomore he went 5-0 and was named to the all conference team. As a junior Matt established himself as one the best players in the State. In a game against Old Town, Matt pitched a no hitter and stuck-out 17 batters. This game got the attention of John Winkin, the Hall of Fame coach at the University of Maine. Soon after, Matt signed a letter of intent to go to UMO after his high school graduation. In 1994 Bangor beat Portland 13 to 5 to win the State Championship. Matt was the winning pitcher and had the save in the same championship game. He had many hits including 2 homers. As a senior Matt was constantly scouted by the professional teams. It was not uncommon for a half a dozen or more to be on hand for each of his games. Matt was unstoppable as a pitcher. His year ended with another State Championship. Matt out-pitched Portland’s Bobby Agger 1-0 in 8 innings. Matt only gave up one hit and was the MVP of the game. Matt finished his high school career with a 24-2 record and became the most sought-after schoolboy player since Dick Joyce.
Matt was playing a legion baseball game in Presque Isle when he heard he was a sixth round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox. He doesn’t remember how he did that day, as his mind was elsewhere. After talking with his parents who said they would support him no matter what his choice would be, he made a tough decision. Many great players such as Billy Swift and Mike Bordick began with their tutelage under John Winkin at the University of Maine but after meeting with scout Buzz Bowers, Matt decided to sign with Boston. As an18 year old, he was promptly sent to Fort Myers Fl. and the City of Palm’s Park. Thus he began a 16 year journey as a professional baseball player.
Matt began his professional career in the Gulf Coast League. He finished the year with an ERA of 2.93. They used him as both a starter and a closer. The next two seasons Matt pitched in short season Lowell MA. and lower A in Michigan. Matt went 8-5 and only gave up 93 hits in 117 innings as a 20 year old. He continued to climb the professional ladder. He spent 1998 in Sarasota and Fort Myers in Hi A ball. Matt went 12-8 and pitched 159 innings and gave up only 140 hits. It was towards the end of July when Matt was traded by the Red Sox to the Minnesota Twins for Greg Swindell and Orlando Merced.
By the time he was 23, Matt had filled out to a six foot five, 230 pound athlete. He started 2000 at AA New Briton. He went 6-1 with 2.71 ERA. He was promoted to AAA at Salt Lake. Matt went 5-2 with 59 strike-outs in 55 innings. With his fastball now touching 99 miles per hour, he was a short step to the major leagues. On August 18th Matt made his major league debut against the Toronto Blue Jays. He pitched 6 and 2/3 innings giving up only two runs. A home run by Carlos Delgado was the only blemish of the day. A tough loss, but satisfaction to know he made it to the major leagues.
Matt went 2-2 his first year in the big leagues. He spent 2001 in the Pacific Coast League with the Edmonton Trappers. In 2002 he was back with Minnesota. He pitched in 14 games, 12 as a starter. He went 2-7 with the Twins. In November, Matt was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. In 2003 as a 26 year old Matt had his best season. He pitched in 33 games 31 as a starter. He was a 10 game winner in the major leagues. In 2004 he went 3-4 most as a relief pitcher. Once again Matt moved to another team and finished the the season with the Kansas City Royals.
In 2005 Matt signed as a free agent with the San Francisco Giants. He went 10-8 in the minor leagues before getting the call to the Giants. He finished the season going 2-0 at the big league level. In 2006 and 2007 Matt pitched for the Fresno Grizzles in the Pacific Coast League. He had a combined record of 20-17, but never got the call to San Francisco.
In 2008 along with his wife Meghan and son Maddox, Matt signed to play in Japan with the Saitama Seibu Lions. He enjoyed his time in Japan. He helped the Lions win the Japanese World Series. With one young child and another on the way, Matt and Meghan decided to come back to play in the United States. Matt again signed with the Giants and was assigned to Fresno. He spent two more years at the AAA level until a back injury told him it was time to retire.
Relocating to Arizona, Matt got into coaching. He worked the Viper Baseball Academy. He primarily worked with 12 to 15 year old boys. With the wealth of knowledge he learned as a pro, this was an easy transition for him. He helped them improve their mechanics and conditioning. After a few years,Matt and Utah native Meghan, decided to move to Maine. He immediately got back into coaching. Matt became the varsity baseball coach at Herman High School. In his first year of coaching at the high school level Matt led the Hermon team to a 12 and 4 record. They were seeded 2nd in Eastern Maine class B. Despite a loss to eventual Eastern Maine champs Caribou, he had turned around the program in less than a year.
With over 100 wins at the professional level, Matt Kinney went where few Mainer’s have been. He showed a tremendous work ethic, and overcame injuries to pitch for 16 years. He played with dignity and courage and we are proud to have him in the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame.
Bangor Daily News
By Joe McLaughlin, BDN Staff • January 16, 2014
Former major league pitcher Matt Kinney has been named the new varsity baseball coach at Hermon High School, according to Hermon athletic director Stephanie Biberstein.
Kinney, a former Bangor High School star who was drafted in the sixth round by the Boston Red Sox in 1995, was approved as the new coach by the Hermon school board, which also named Megan McCrum the school’s new varsity softball coach.
Kinney last pitched in the majors in 2005 with the San Francisco Giants. He has a career record of 19-27 with a 5.29 ERA and 297 strikeouts over five seasons.
Kinney had been living in Arizona, but moved back to Maine last fall because he wants to raise his two boys, ages 5 and 6, in Maine.
“He comes in with extensive baseball knowledge, with a coaching philosophy of hard work and fundamentals,” Biberstein said. “It’s a good match for the high school.”
92.9 The ticket ~ Carl 'Stump' Merrill was part of first MLB draft back in 1965.