Matt Boyd’s personality can be felt from miles away, even on a Zoom conference call. His disposition shone through his virtual April 13 meeting with Oregon media members, even while discussing matters of uncertainty.
Reporters chimed in during the press conference to say hello to the former Oregon State pitcher on behalf of old relatives that had got the chance to know Boyd during his run as a Beaver from 2010 to 2013. In between the updates on his personal life and the comments of “Tell him I say hi” from the current MLB pitcher living in Detroit, Michigan, the press conference felt close to a group of old friends playing catch-up for lost time.
But where Boyd’s joy truly came to the forefront is when he got the chance to regale the media with his favorite memories as an Oregon State student-athlete. Now a pitcher for the Detriot Tigers, Boyd still looks back on his college days fondly, reliving those accomplishments and having their significance rush back to him.
“Can’t top the ones that happened our senior year with the Super Regional,” Boyd said. “I just remember the fans being so electric. And our team--we came out and we lost on the first night and we came back on Sunday in Game Two and just punched them right in the face… I’ve got goosebumps thinking about that.”
But whether they be memories from the pros or the college level, reliving the sports days of old will have to be enough for Boyd as far as baseball goes. For the time being, the left-handed pitcher has traded the time he would typically spend training on the mound for time spent inside during quarantine.
Despite being locked inside and respecting the rules of social-distancing, Boyd has been finding ways to keep himself busy. In between his role as the player representative for the Detroit Tigers and his involvement with charity, he has managed to keep himself ready for the potential return of baseball.
Through the work he has put in at his own makeshift weight room located in the unfurnished basement of his Detroit home, Boyd has been keeping as fit as possible while access to team facilities is temporarily off-limits.
“Unfortunately, the stadiums and the spring training complexes are closed so it makes things a little tougher,” Boyd said. “Luckily [I] was able to go down to the stadium and collect a bunch of weight equipment. Strength equipment and whatnot… because paychecks aren’t flowing in, we’re not furnishing our basement in our new house here. So we’re putting that on hold and we turned it into a temporary weight room.”
While Boyd’s training could prove crucial in the eventual return to baseball, neither he nor his teammates are sure whether or not their sport will even begin their season at all. While teams and the league want to get the season going as soon as possible, both sides are making sure not to rush back, leaving the timetable for a potential return to baseball murky.
“We’re in constant communication with the union, and union with the league, and right now the one thing that’s true is both the union and the league want to get games going as soon as possible,” Boyd said. “With that [said], there is no timeframe right now. It’s really the ‘wait and see’ approach.”
For the foreseeable future, Boyd will be working from home. Without the MLB up and running, the Oregon State alumn’s athletics training will be confined to his basement in the hopes of returning to sports. But Boyd’s outreach stretches beyond his play with the Tigers. Since 2018, both he and his wife Ashley have been responsible for operating their own nonprofit charity, Kingdom Home.
Ashley Boyd, a Beaverton native and OSU alumna, met Matt through their days attending Oregon State. Having what Matt describes as “a heart for social justice,” Ashley began working for a nonprofit shortly after college, inspiring the Boyds to begin a charity group of their own with the goal of ending child sex-trafficking through prevention in Uganda.
Kingdom Home attempts to achieve its goal by providing shelter for children at risk of becoming victims, and while the group began only three years ago, the organization has been expanding their reach and providing homes for more and more children.
“We started out with 36 girls in one home [with] a lady named Dorothy, who had a heart for the same mission. Since that time, it’s now grown to 156 children if I’m not mistaken. And over four homes, boys and girls, from ages five to 15” Boyd said. “They have brothers or sisters. And they have three meals a day. And they’re going to school, they’re getting [an] education.”
But much like his days playing baseball, Boyd’s work with Kingdom Home has hit a snag due to the coronavirus pandemic. Cases of the COVID-19 virus have been reported in Kingdom Home’s operating country of Uganda, causing a countrywide shutdown of public areas.
Despite the lockdown, Boyd reported that the charity group was able to acquire the necessary supplies needed to keep their children safe and healthy.
“Thanks to the awesome people, my wife included, but the houseparents on the ground-- they were [kind of] mobilized early as this started to progress and they were able to get the means for what they needed for the coming weeks,” Boyd said. “Luckily all the children are healthy. And they have what they need right now for the next few weeks.”
Through the various roles in Matt Boyd’s life, be it as a player representative, a nonprofit founder or even a husband, the former Oregon State student-athlete has kept busy during the quarantine. But Boyd is still itching to get back to the one role he can not fulfill right now, playing baseball for the Detroit Tigers. He is ready to get back to it, whenever the rest of the world is ready.
“It’s tough. It’s really tough,” Boyd said. “I know I’m speaking for everybody when I say that we’re ready to get back out there. When the time is right.”