Matt Ramsey knew all along he wanted to be a baseball coach one day.
A year after making his major league debut by closing out an 11-5 win for the Los Angeles Angels against the New York Yankees, the 30-year-old Ramsey is excited to take the reins of the high school baseball program at East Hamilton.
"It was a very special and memorable time being able to pitch in the big leagues," Ramsey said Friday. "I have been fortunate to have had a lot of success in my professional career, and I look forward to bringing everything I have learned to East Hamilton. I knew I wanted to be a coach from the time I started my actual playing career. I want to help these kids get better and really help them grow as not only baseball players but as people, too."
Ramsey was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays as the 600th overall pick in the 2011 Major League Baseball amateur draft after a successful collegiate career with the Tennessee Volunteers. The right-hander also won TSSAA state championships in 2006 and 2008 while playing for Farragut High School.
The Oak Ridge native played in the systems of five MLB teams — the Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers and Houston Astros in addition to the Angels and the Rays. Ramsey excelled in relief in his professional career, posting a 2.68 ERA and recording 49 saves while striking out 339 batters in 285 innings.
In his only MLB appearance, he retired the Yankees 1-2-3 with flyouts by Gleyber Torres and Mike Tauchman and a swinging strikeout of Mike Ford to end the game on April 25, 2019.
In the minors, Ramsey won a Class AA Southern League championship with the Jacksonville Suns in 2014. That season he posted a 1.46 ERA, 14 saves and 80 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings.
"My MLB debut was really special because I worked really hard to get there," Ramsey said. "Beyond that, my favorite moment was winning the Southern League championship. It was the most fun I ever had playing baseball other than in high school. We won as a team and had a team camaraderie that was really special."
Ramsey was preparing to pitch again in 2020, but with the COVID-19 pandemic happening and his wife expecting their second child in September, he decided to start a new chapter.
He will take over for Steve Garland, who won a combined 465 games in 11-year stints at Soddy-Daisy and East Hamilton. Garland resigned in June to become an assistant principal at East Hamilton.
"I know Coach Garland has done an excellent job with the program here," Ramsey said. "I have big shoes to fill, and I am excited to get on the field and work with these guys."
Ramsey met with his players during a Zoom meeting Friday. With a fastball in the low 90s, Ramsey could certainly speed up some bats throwing live BP to his new team.
The Hurricanes, who have one state tournament appearance (2015) since the school opened in 2009, look forward to the future.
"I think the biggest step to winning state championships is competitiveness and aggressiveness on the field," Ramsey said. "That's the way I played. I played with a lot of energy. That's one thing I will look for from the kids. I am a firm believer that helped me and my success."
East Hamilton administrators know they are fortunate to have a coach with Ramsey's playing experience.
"Matt's energy and expertise when it comes to the game of baseball is absolutely outstanding," East Hamilton athletic director Keitha Booker said. "He is going to be able to come in and take this program to the next level. He has a very high level of character and morals, too, and is just the guy we wanted to come in.
"Everyone is super excited."