By Jackson White
-- Ryan Grimmett is the definition of a “Midland man”. Grimmett is one of the special young men to have come through the Midland program and parlayed his success at Midland into success at the collegiate and professional levels. Not only has Grimmett worn the “M” on his hat as a player, but now he’s back doing it again, this time as a coach on Midland Redskins staff for the past two summers. We had the opportunity to sit down and “catch up” with Grimmett to reflect on his journey throughout the Midland program.
Grimmett is an Ohio guy. Born and raised right down the road from Midland, it was always something he was well aware of as a young man. Grimmett was able to discuss the beginning journey of his baseball playing days, specifically the beginning of his time with the Midland program.
“I started playing baseball actually with my dad coaching me along with BC [former Redskin Brian Conley]. I started playing at four, and then at about eight or nine I was on the first AABC team in Cincinnati. We started traveling around the country and playing against some other teams, but I then got to an age where you don’t listen to your father anymore, and got to a point where Midland was around and it made sense for me to go play for someone else. It was great getting to grow up playing for my dad, but once I had the opportunity to go play for Midland at fifteen it was a great experience.”
Grimmett continued, “I started playing for Larry Redwine on the sixteen-year-olds when I was fifteen, and that was my first year with Midland. We went to the Mickey Mantle World Series that year, and it was nice getting to play with a lot of the guys who were older than me. Then as I turned sixteen, I spent another year on the sixteen-year-old team, and that was probably the biggest turning point in my career because that’s where I had one of my most successful years in baseball, and I think it’s really important for kids’ to have a really successful year because baseball is such a confidence game, either beating you up or making you feel pretty good about yourself. As I was seventeen, I played on the ‘Skins, and just growing up in the organization, understanding how much of a family it is from developing players at young age on was really amazing. You’re playing for Coach E [Dave Evans], Pop [Joe Hayden] and some of the other coaches who were there at the time, it was just a really good learning experience for me.”
Grimmett was able to open up about why the Midland experience was so special for him, and how it got him ready for the rest of his baseball career beyond Midland.
“It was a professional environment. They taught me how to be a really good college and professional player, along the lines of maturity and how to handle things differently. Being able to handle pressure, which is one thing I really learned from Midland, which was how we could grow and get better. Pop was always very transparent with us. He was so transparent with us that you never had to guess what he was thinking. If you were doing bad, you wouldn’t have to guess that, but if you were doing really good, you wouldn’t have to guess that either. Playing on two national championship teams, and being able to be around guys who I still talk to today at age forty-seven, you build such strong relationships and being able to really develop, which is something no other organization in the country has,” Grimmett said.
Grimett also had a chance to speak about Joe Hayden, what he meant to him and why he was such an important individual in his baseball upbringing.
“Mr. Hayden was the most hard-nosed loving individual I have ever been around in my life. He would take you in, and if you needed to be pushed hard, he’d push you hard, but if you needed love, he’d always give you that too. To step back and see when kids weren’t as fortunate as I was, and came from out of town and didn’t have the things I had growing up, Mr. Hayden would do things behind the scenes, without anyone knowing, that spoke volumes about him, but more importantly it taught me how to be a good person, and how important that is above and beyond anything else. If there was anything I ever needed, whether it was help with work or whatever, I know I could ask Mr. Hayden, and it wasn’t something where if it wasn’t warranted, he wouldn’t give it to you. That’s what I liked about him, there was never any handouts, but he would help you out in anyway possible that he could,” Grimmet said.
Grimmett had quite a few opportunities coming out of high school with a chance to play at a bevy of schools, he went to Miami (FL), and he talked about why that was the right place for him and how his time there went.
“I grew up as a little kid wanting to play there. I had a lot of opportunities to play at a lot of different schools, and it was a dream come true since I was a little kid watching them in the College World Series. It gave me the opportunity to play in four College World Series, but I think personally as a human being you always think, ‘Am I as good as I think I am? Can I compete at this level?’ And when I stepped on campus, I had to quickly realize whether I could or could not compete at that high level, which I think was really good for me. In the end, they were the same individuals as I was. It just came down to how hard I was willing to work, and I was fortunate enough to start as a freshman there, which gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of my career that I realized I belonged there, and it was a real dream come true to have the opportunity to play there,” Grimmet said.
Grimmett had the opportunity to speak on the important things he learned during his time at Midland, as well as some things he took away from that time that he still uses now in his everyday life.
“Yes, absolutely. The organization as a whole molded me individually and taught me how to be extremely disciplined, taught me about the time management piece, and I think that any athlete that’s successful now, and who’s come through the organization, if you didn’t have those skillsets already, it was taught to you. You know, you don’t have to be the most athletic person, but you always can be outworked. I’m by no means the biggest dude, nor was I the most athletic dude in the world, but to this day, I’ve always done everything with a chip on my shoulder and I always try to make sure that I’m better than you in whatever it is because I’ll out-work you. I learned from the organization that you’re as successful as you allow yourself to be, which I think is pretty important in this world, especially now being able to keep some of those life lessons which go far beyond just baseball,” Grimmett said.
Grimmett is a type 1 diabetic, which has obviously provided some struggles, but he has remarkably been able to have such an impressive baseball and professional career. He talked about how being a diabetic has affected him along his journey of baseball and life, and how he been able to overcome such a large obstacle.
“I have been a type 1 diabetic since I was seven. Honestly, it’s been something I’ve just had to figure out over the years about how exactly to handle blood sugars, and making sure I’m in control of what’s going into my body. Being able to handle the highs and lows of it, specifically as a baseball player because it could really affect me as a baseball player. If my blood sugar was low, I could have a really bad day, and vice versa if it was high. So, constantly having to manage that, as well as the emotions and stress levels that go with the game itself, is something that is extremely difficult. You don’t just go out and tell everyone you’re a diabetic, you could be having a really bad day because your blood sugar is really low and you can’t see straight or you’re really dizzy, it’s not something you want to use as a crutch, but just a reality you have to face. I like that I have the opportunity to connect with kids that are diabetic, and let them know that it’s not something that should inhibit you from playing the game and doing the things you love,” Grimmett said.
Grimmett also spoke on how valuable it was to have his family around the team the last two years he’s coached on the Redskins, and all the memories he and his girls have been able to make from it.
He spoke about the experience saying,” It was the most enjoyable experience for them. Having daughters that you can bring to the yard and to see all the experiences they had, was really special for me. The great thing is, they have no idea the type of talented individuals that were around them. It meant volumes to me because they were just good kids, and for them to be able to see the type of positive impact they could have on young kids. They were making a TikTok during a rain delay, and I looked back on it and realized there was probably over a million dollars’ worth in signing bonus among all the players, who were just looking like a bunch of goofballs.”
Gimmett resides now in Milford, Ohio with his 3 daughters, Haley (20), who’s now a student at Liberty University, Avery (12), and Brinley (9). His parents are Joyce and Russ. Grimmett has been a key contributor to the success of the Midland program, both as a player and a coach. He continues to make the Midland family proud with all of his success and hard-work, and he will always be a proud Redskin.