The name Chris Mattison may not sound familiar to York County baseball fans.
He's not a product of the White Rose county, but Mattison has seen his share of time on the local baseball sandlots over the years.
The Stoverstown Tigers are hoping their new secret weapon remains around for just as long, if not longer.
A product of Lancaster Catholic High School from across the Susquehanna River, Mattison, 24, quickly found a new home to play ball after being let go by the San Diego Padres organization this past spring. All it took was a couple of connections with a pair of York County players to make it happen.
While the sample size is not large, Mattison's prowess likely won't be a secret much longer. Playing in just his third game for the Tigers, the 6-foot, 4-inch standout mashed two home runs Tuesday night to lead first-place Stoverstown (11-1) to an 8-3 Central League victory over Mount Wolf.
In his small sample size, Mattison has hit .600 (6 for 10) while crushing three homers and driving in six runs.
“I’m having a blast,” he said. “Pro ball isn’t as fun and it certainly wasn’t as fun as when I was in college.”
All over the map: Mattison, who played for York Township in the Susquehanna League six years ago, has been all over the map since his high school days. He played at East Stroudsburg University before transferring to Frederick Community College in Maryland. He eventually settled down at Southeastern University in Florida.
It was after his junior year at Southeastern when Mattison was drafted in the 16th round by the Padres. He played two seasons (2016, 2017) with their low-A affiliate, Tri City, before he was released back in March.
“It was a long run,” he said. “And I still haven’t finished school yet.”
Stoops connection: Mattison shared a plane trip with another Padres organization prospect in former Eastern York and Richmond standout Dylan Stoops, who also pitched for East Prospect in the Susquehanna League. Stoops pitched for high-A Lake Elsinore for a season before he was released in the spring of 2017.
“I actually met Dylan at the airport in Harrisburg while I was going to spring training,” Mattison said. “I saw that he had some Padres stuff with him and I was like, ‘hey, it’s weird seeing someone else around here from the Padres.'”
Now Mattison can share in their similar releases from the San Diego organization almost exactly a year apart.
“Dylan’s a good guy,” he said. “But it’s a revolving door.”
Buchko helps connect him with Stoverstown: The door that closed in San Diego, however, opened up a new one in Stoverstown. And Mattison can thank his old buddy Joel Buchko for making it happen.
Buchko helped recruit Mattison to York Township after he graduated from high school. And when he found out that Mattison was free again, he tried to get him a position with Jacobus, the team that Buchko now plays for.
The Jackals, however, didn’t really have the room on the roster for Mattison, so Buchko got him in touch with one of his former teammates, Daryl Harang, who plays for Stoverstown.
“Joel talked to Daryl and the next thing I know I’m told that I’m playing tonight,” said Mattison of his debut with the Tigers last week against Dover. “So I was just like, ‘all right, cool.'”
Strong arm: While Mattison played first base for the Tigers Tuesday, if he gets picked back up in the pro ranks it will only be as a pitcher. Drafted as a catcher, Mattison suffered two injuries to his meniscus which required surgery.
While that will effectively eliminate him from catching, his arm could still be of use. The right-hander said that he was throwing in the mid to upper 90s earlier this spring at a workout in New York.
“I’ll still pitch,” he said. “I’ll go to some workouts, but I just really want to settle down somewhere. I like living over in Lancaster. I’m working at Old Navy and spending some time coaching my a 14-U team.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.