The First Base Candyman: Coach Matt Smith

Baseball is ever-evolving, with tradition meeting innovation in the most unexpected ways. Coaches have started implementing new practices to keep players engaged and keep things fun. Some teams, like the OC Riptide, have introduced a homerun hat to celebrate the home run hitters. Assistant Coach Matt Smith has also started something new for the team as the First Base Coach. 


Coach Matt Smith feeding infielder Owen Fuller a gummy worm after his base hit. (Photo Credit: Alyssa Gervacio)

Drawing inspiration from Oral Roberts’ First base coach during the NCAA Super Regionals, Smith started carrying Trolli gummy worms with him at first. Smith said, “I wanted to do something to spice it up in the first base box because the first base coach is basically a glorified coat rack.” When the Riptide players advance to first, he takes all their elbow and shin guards while they run. Believing in rewarding their efforts and keeping a positive atmosphere, Smith said, “I love it when the guys come visit me over there and I want to give them a little treat.” 



Smith initially used Sour Patch Kids Watermelon gummies but switched to gummy worms because they were easier to feed the players.


First base coach Matt Smith walking back to the dugout with infielder, Nathan Cadena. (Photo Credit: Sarah Cisneros)

The gummies aren’t exclusive to certain hitters, Smith gives them to everyone who makes it on base. Smith said, “I do it anytime they’re down there. Even [when they] reached on an error – boom – reward. Sometimes guys are pissed, like ‘Don’t give me on, I reached on an error,’ and I’m like ‘Dude, relax, zoom out. Play ball and take a gummy worm. Now go steal second.’”


So, now when you are cheering on your favorite Riptide players, pay attention to when they get to first. You might catch Coach Matt Smith feeding them a celebratory gummy worm, proving that baseball isn’t just about stats – it’s about creating memories, fostering camaraderie, and celebrating the little things, one gummy worm at a time. 


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