Putting together a team is similar to finding the right pieces of a puzzle. They all eventually fit, each one adding to the big picture in a different way. Border pieces compared to ones inside.
Matty Fung and Jonah Wiesner, teammates with Sylvan Lake Gulls of the Western Canadian Baseball League are a perfect example. Both have skills which help complete the final product but are at opposite ends of the intensity spectrum when it comes their approach to the game.
“Between those lines, 90 feet to 90 feet I’m a very passionate individual. I like to go out there to compete to the very fullest extent,” said Wiesner, the Gulls talented shortstop from Lone Butte, British Columbia. “Sometimes emotion gets the better of me. That’s something I’ve had to learn over the years, to mature into a professional individual and keep my emotions in check.”
For Matty Fung, who hails from just north of San Francisco, baseball is viewed with a different lens.
“I’m not a very emotional player, I don’t show excitement,” said Fung, who patrols left field in most games but can handle infielder duties as well. “Deep down I’m excited to be on the field, fired up every time I score a run for my team, but I don’t show many emotions like other players.”
Both Fung and Wiesner have shown Gulls fans they can play the game at a very high level. Each one can make the acrobatic catch and throw, as well as use their legs to get a stolen base when needed.
Weisner says when he’s playing, his focus is laser sharp, and he is all-in for his teammates.
“The guy there on the mound pitching against you or the guy up to bat, trying to put a ball in play, he’s the guy trying to beat you and I don’t want to be beat. I want to win every time.”
There is a flip side to Weisner as well. Once the game is done, youngsters get to come out on the field and run the bases. He works at making sure that intensity is left on the field.
“When the kids start running on to the field, they’re getting themselves involved with the players. That’s an opportunity I see to make something special to happen for those kids,” he explained. “I want to try to have an impact on their lives. You know, I was a kid once and I looked up to guys who played the game. It’s all about giving the kids a good time and representing the Gulls in a good way.”
Fung relishes the chance to interact with the kids following a Gulls game.
“It makes you feel like a big leaguer for sure and whenever kids come up to me and say I’m their favourite player, it makes me really happy,”
Emotional differences aside, both players have a common bond when it comes to the game-family.
Fung grew up watching the San Francisco Giants, getting to be out on the field shagging flies during batting practice. He says his dad, a former high school baseball coach was an influence on him to stick with the sport.
“He got me into this game, and I just want to make him proud. I know he enjoys watching me and as long as I’m playing, he’ll be happy.” But there is more motivation.
“This game is very hard. You can go one for three one night and that’s a pretty good night for baseball so the success on the field makes it super fun to play and meet new guys every time on a new team,” said Fung.
He also credits his experience at those Giants games being able to get up close to those who play baseball for a living.
“Just seeing the pros on the field, that’s something I want to do one day, continue to play baseball as long as I can. Coming here (Sylvan Lake) is maybe a sneak peak of what I could see eventually down the line because our fans here treat us like big leaguers.”
Weisner credits his family as well, adding without them making sacrifices so he could play, he wouldn’t be where he is today.
“My dad especially, you know he introduced me to the sport when I was so young and I kind of just fell in love with it,” Wiesner said of his influencer. “I was always told it’s a sport that could open doors for you as a career or as a means of covering school.”
Baseball has placed Jonah Wiesner on a path but sometimes paths can be re-routed. If that happens, he has a backup plan in place. It has to do with making sure he has a good education to fall back on. That involves studying for his Bachelor of Science degree in psychology at Ottawa University in Kansas.
“Right now, I’m planning to go back there and give my services as a graduate assistant and get my bachelor’s in forensic psychology.”
For Matty Fung, baseball is still on the radar as a player, but should that not work out, another option may keep him in the game he loves. Coaching would be a way to give back and be around it as long as he can.
Two opposite ends of the spectrum emotion-wise but teammates who embrace the game. It’s what completes the puzzle.