By Jackson White
Conrad Gregor is one in the long line of former Midland players to take his talent to the next level and play professional baseball. Gregor, however, is also very talented off the field. A former professional baseball player, who now owns his own training facility, and works for Merrill Lynch as a private wealth manager, is someone who the Midland program is proud to say wore the Midland uniform. Gregor was able to sit down and ‘catch up’ with the Midland program about his time at Midland, and where he is in his journey of life.
Most great baseball players know from a young age that they love game, and that it is somewhat of a calling for them; Gregor is no exception to this. Gregor was able to talk about his early days playing the game, and he talked about where it all began for him.
“I started playing baseball typical to how most of us do, just playing locally in our city’s rec league, and didn’t really get too serious about it until about my 4th grade-5th grade years playing for the city’s all-star travel team, the Carmel Pups organization, in my hometown of Carmel, Indiana. I think early on I really just loved playing sports, and really depending on the season, I had a bat, a ball, playing in the backyard, playing pick-up games, and that was really what life was for us. I loved football, loved baseball and basketball, and playing all of them leading up to my high-school days,” Gregor said.
“I then progressed from playing just in my city to traveling a little bit, but obviously baseball was probably my top sport that I was good at, and I thought from an early age that I had a good eye at the plate, good hand-eye coordination, and I had some ability to hit which was where it all kind of started. From there, through middle school I got a little more serious, spending more time on the game through practices and training, and that’s where I was able to take my development to a more elite level. From there, I started playing in some tournaments against teams from other states and different parts of the country, and I started to realize that I had some talent and that it was really something I wanted to continue working at. Going into high school I decided to stop playing basketball, and just play baseball and football, which opened up more free-time for me to train and practice in the winter, and really after that was when I got my first opportunity to play in the Midland organization with the Midland Braves, and got a chance to end up playing with a lot of the guys I played with on the Redskins,” Gregor added.
Gregor being from Carmel, Indiana is not what most would consider to be an “in-town guy” so he talked about how he first knew about Midland, and what his reaction was to play in the Midland organization.
“Getting to kind of know Midland a little more, and what everything entailed started when I was on the Braves, and I realized that it was a lot different, much more focused, regimented, like playing in college or professionally, just the way the entire organization handled its business. Everything from the bus trips, living on your own, no dads that were coaches, the seriousness, the caliber of talent, the whole dynamic of practicing everyday and then playing in games definitely was apparent from day one. Getting the experience of being around the Midland facility, getting to see what the Redskins were about, just hearing from teammates and coaches talking about the Redskins, I could definitely see that [playing on the Redskins] was what I wanted to do, and that it would be great to get an opportunity to play for the Redskins. I became much more grateful to see Papa Joe and what he was all about with the rest of the coaches, and really just the tradition and learning about the last decade before I’d been there, but also the history of all the players who made it to the MLB, played in college, and winning the Connie Mack World Series, it gave me an opportunity to see what Midland baseball means and why you play the game,” Gregor said.
Gregor was also able to discuss the impact “Papa” Joe Hayden on him, and the impact he had not only him, but also countless numbers of young men who had come before him.
“Mr. Hayden had a huge impact on my life. I miss him every day, and I was fortunate enough that long after my time at Midland, I was able to stay in contact with him, and keep up with what was going on with with him in his later years of life. I also had the fortune of talking to the 2021 Midland Redskins, and understanding that they didn’t get the opportunity for Papa Joe to be around. Coach Evans awarded me Papa Joe’s ring that he gives to the team player of the day, and he gave me the chance to speak to the team about what Papa Joe means, and I told them that these opportunities of coming together, having a summer away from your family, and just the brotherhood which is what Midland Baseball and Papa Joe is all about. I told them the opportunity to build something different, and develop a one-of-a-kind love around the game of baseball, doing things right, and building a culture that allowed for great team comradery,” Gregor said.
Gregor continued on Papa Joe saying, “At the end of the day, he loved every one of the players to death, win or lose, he was definitely all about winning, but I could go on and on for all day about what Papa Joe did for me, and how much he helped me and numerous other players get us to where we wanted to be, and the opportunity he provided to us to play this great game of baseball.”
As someone who is now into his professional career and has his hung up his spikes for good, Gregor talked about the lessons and things he learned from Midland that he still carries with him to this day.
“There are definitely a lot of life lessons that I learned during my time in the Midland program that have helped me get to where I am today, and I would say it started growing up as a man, living on my own with Coach Evans, learning how to operate on my own and that’s where it all started at Midland. Learning how to develop routines, have success and see what works for routines and what doesn’t, that all started at Midland. Learning how to cook meals, how to do laundry, how to live on my own away from my parents, that all started at Midland,” Gregor said.
“Just being able to spend time at the field, and really taking control of my own schedule, having a chance to really own my development. I think a lot of that stuff has helped me now trying to give back. Number 1, being a private wealth manager for Merrill and Lynch, being able to give back and help people manage their own finances and wealth, but also number 2, owning a baseball training facility, to help give back to the next age of athletes, by sharing the lessons I learned, numerous of them coming from my time at Midland. I would say really it comes down to maturity, obviously during high school everyone is dealing with a big level of maturity to develop physically and mentally in a somewhat controlled environment. People like Papa Joe, Coach Evans, Coach Hopkins, Coach Danny Hayden, Brian Hiler, Bart, and the rest of the coaches who want to help you succeed and teach you those life lessons,” Gregor said.
Gregor was able to also share some of his favorite memories from his time at Midland, particularly of Coach Evans and some things that he still remembers from playing for Coach E.
“I think one memory that comes to my mind, which goes back to your last question of teaching me to succeed. It was a tournament down in Atlanta, Georgia and we were in a situation where it was late in the game, I believe it was a one run game, and we get to the last inning and we get a few runners on base and typically where I hit in the lineup, I wouldn’t be bunting, but this situation it was a definite bunt. I remember going to the plate and getting the bunt sign, I wasn’t able to get the bunt down, but I remember when I got back to the dugout Coach E was not very happy. I think he was mad because it was a situation where all you have to do is execute and do what you have to do to win the game, but what that drilled inside me was that doing whatever was best for the team, even if bunting wasn’t a part of my game, it was what was needed to be able to win the game. I remember that I didn’t miss a bunt from that point on and it really served me well when playing at Vanderbilt where bunting was a big part of what we were asked to do,” Gregor said.
As previously mentioned, Gregor now works for Merrill Lynch as a private wealth manager, and also owns his own training facility, he was able to talk about both of those things, and what he’s been up to since his playing days have ended.
“I am retired from playing baseball now. I started working for Merrill Lynch last August, and how this came about was I was down in Spring Training practicing for the season prior to COVID-19, but I decided to retire amongst the pandemic with no minor league season. Fortunately for me, during the later parts of my professional career I did some work and had conversations with people in different industries and it gave me a lot of ideas for when the day that I stopped or was forced to stop playing baseball came. I went to Vanderbilt for baseball, but I got my degree in Finance and Entrepreneurship so wealth management was definitely something I was interested in and had a passion for so its been a great transition from my playing days,” Gregor said.
Gregor said of the baseball and sports performance facility he now owns, “It really started out as something to keep me busy in the off-season while I was training at home. Being able to essentially stay off the couch and help give back, but it kind of expanded with my love for teaching and helping give back to the community. It’s something I have a passion for and fully believe in helping the next wave of athletes get better, and just like Papa Joe was able to give back, that definitely impacted me to help want to help the next wave of athletes reach their goals.”
Gregor is a very special and successful young man who continues to make an impact in the game of baseball, even though his playing days are behind him. The midland program is proud to call Conrad a member of the Midland family, and the program can’t wait to see where this next journey takes him in his life, he will forever be a Redskin.