Standing in at a slight 5 foot 9 inches and 180 pounds, Manhattan College baseball’s Mike Vocatura didn’t allow the smallest of odds stop him from reaching his biggest goal of playing D1 college baseball.
In order to do so he needed every bit of his determination and perseverance to make the baseball team.
“He really just was determined to be a player and be a part of the team,” Jim Duffy, MC baseball head coach, said.
Vocatura played baseball his entire life, but upon entering MC he didn’t involve himself with the baseball team in his freshman and sophomore year. When the summer of his junior year came around, he decided that he wanted to do something with baseball, so he tried out for the team.
And two years in a row he failed to make the team.
In the summer of 2013 he completed his undergraduate degree in finance and came back to MC to prepare for graduate school to pursue an MBA in the school of business. This is when he was approached by a few players from the baseball team who convinced him to try out again.
He approached Duffy after each attempt to see if he could be around the team in some way because of how much he loves the game of baseball. He befriended a couple of players on the team and has grown in his experience and maturity.
Vocatura was then offered and accepted the job of team manager.
He tried out for a third time, and the numbers on the roster worked out where he could be a situational relief pitcher to get righties out from the bullpen. He couldn’t be a starting pitcher or pitch through the opposing batting lineup at least once.
“He would work as hard as he could, he would always ask questions. Showed an interest, wanted to improve and he wanted to get better,” Mike Postilio, Oceanside High School head coach who coached Vocatura in elementary school and junior varsity baseball, said. “He had desire, a lot of desire and heart to want to improve his knowledge of the game and anyway he could make his game better whether it’d be pinch-running, defense, anyway he could get onto the field he was always eager to do that”.
He began to work out and spoke with two former teammates Taylor Stewart, former pitcher who graduated in 2012, and Ray Ortega, former catcher who graduated last year. Vocatura learned to throw from a sidearm arm slot, the same angle Stewart threw from.
When Vocatura first tried out for the team it was in the outfield and as a pitcher who threw at the traditional over the shoulder.
Since he has been a player on the team he has taken on two roles. First as a go-to reliever, the second as a must-have conversation.
“He started in the outfield occasionally and might’ve pitched a little bit, at times in the least,” Postilio said, “but he was more of a role-player. And he was a great role-player because he’s a great kid and great teammate.”
Although Vocatura doesn’t play much because of his short-term duties out of the bullpen. He’s seen as a great guy by teammates and is friends with everyone.
On off days for pitchers he tries to keep their minds off, busy and away from thinking about situations they are put into so they are not harping on it and meltdown. He tries to loosen up his teammates when the game gets the best of them.
“He brings some great conversations to the dugout,” Joe McClennan, the junior infielder, said.
Vocatura knew the culture of the team going in. The one thing he would not be aware of is the competition against a live batter would be different and new.
In the end, he’s still a team manager competing out on the pitcher’s mound.
“I have a unique perspective of things, considering I was managing during that championship run two years ago,” Vocatura said. “And now as a player everything is so much different. I’ve been pushing a lot stuff on the freshman to try to help them grow and mature faster since we have a ton of them.”