Mahtook graduated from St. Thomas More High School in Lafayette, Louisiana in 2008. He was a quarterback on the football team, and an outfielder on the baseball team. As a senior, he hit .450-13-45 and 25 stolen bases.
Mikie was recruited to play both sports by Connecticut, Houston, Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana Tech. But he went with his first love.
“I always wanted to see what it would be like to just play one sport and focus on it and try to get as good as you possibly get at it,” Mahtook said. “A lot of people didn’t realize that in the end I really wanted to play just baseball. As a little kid, I always dreamed about getting the game-winning hit for LSU, not throwing the game-winning touchdown.”
- In 2008, the Marlins drafted Mikie in the 39th round, out of high school. But he did not sign, choosing to attend LSU on a baseball scholarship while majoring in sports administration.
Mikie's dad, Mike Mahtook, and his uncle, Robbie Mahtook, played football as a linebacker and lineman, respectively, at LSU. And another uncle, Ronnie Mahtook, played football at UL-Lafayette.
The elder Mikie Mahtook died suddenly of cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle, while playing tennis at the Oakbourne Country Club in Lafayette in the summer of 1994 at age 32, leaving Mary Ann, 4-year-old Mikie and 2-year-old twin daughters Catherine and Cristina. The uncles have always lived within a mile or so of Mary Ann and the kids and quickly became foster parents.
Mikie remembers lots of aunts, uncles and grandparents from both sides always around, but he also has treasured memories of his father, though he was only four at the time of his death.
“I remember playing with little army men with him before dinner or just playing with him on the couch,” Mahtook said. “I probably remember more than I should.”
There were also go-cart rides and pizza dinners.
“He’s heard so many stories about his dad,” said Mary Ann, who met her husband at LSU. “He doesn’t want those to ever stop. But everything he remembers really happened. It’s amazing. And he loves hearing stories about his daddy.”
His mother always knew her son was going to LSU. To this day, Mahtook writes his number, 54, on his cleats.
“He wanted to play where his dad played,” she said. “It’s all working out for him. A lot of people had said he wouldn’t be able to crack that lineup, but he believed himself. I’m very proud."
Mikie turned from football after breaking his arm his junior year. He never lost the mentality, however.
“I wear my emotions on my sleeves and I like to play the game hard and I get excited and get pumped up and I don’t mind showing it,” Mahtook said. “I feel when I do that after a big moment or after something happens on our team, it’s a big charge for our team and they all feed off of that.”
Mahtook plays 100 miles per hour with his hair on fire, diving for balls, playing with a lot of emotion and playing the game well. (Tammy Nunez-Baseball America-5/30/11)
In 2012, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Mahtook as the 10th-best prospect in the Rays' organization. They had him at #12 in the winter before 2013 spring training. He was down at #25 in the offseason before 2014 spring camps opened.
But he had a fine season in 2014 and was rated 6th-best prospect in the Rays farm system in both the spring of 2015 and again in 2016.
Mahtook has a wonderful family. His mother and sisters are great. The have all made the best of a difficult situation.
Mikie exhibits impressive intangibles and strong drive, which allow him to get the most out of his solid-average tools.
Mikie went up to The Show for the first time on April 10, 2015, when he joined the Rays prior to their game against the Marlins.
"You think about that day," Mahtook, a Louisiana native, said. "You kind of envision that day. It's one of those common daydreams of every baseball player. You think how you're going to react to it. And then when you get the news you don't really know. I hope everybody can experience that moment."
"We're excited for Mikie," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He was in Spring Training 2015, showed a lot of versatility where he can play in the outfield and he's going to help us. Might get a start here or there, but he'll definitely be a factor off the bench for us."
Mahtook was in the lineup for Triple-A Durham on April 9, 2015, and learned about the news after the game. "I played the full game," Mahtook said. "I finished, I got into the locker room, trying to get out of there quick because my family had just flown into town. They pulled me into the office. They said they wanted to talk to me. Told me not to read too much into it.
"They brought me in there and pretty much told me to be ready for tomorrow because you're not going to be here, you're going to be in Miami. It was a pretty fun way to figure it out. I was lucky to have my family."
Mahtook's mother, Mary Ann, and identical twin sisters, Christina and Catherine, were in Durham. "I walked out [of the clubhouse], and they had no idea," Mahtook said. "They're like 'What's wrong?' and I just kind of spilled it. It was a little emotional, but it was awesome."
Mahtook and his family celebrated by going out to dinner at a local restaurant. "Everybody was on their phones, trying to get new flights," Mahtook said. "They actually beat me here. Their flight was at 11:00, mine was 12:30. It all happened pretty quick."
Mahtook smiled about his sisters being in Miami. "They're 23," Mahtook said. "Not too much younger than me. They're pretty happy to be in Miami, I can tell you that much. I'm kind of worried about them taking over Miami." (Chastain - mlb.com - April 10, 2014)
May 8, 2015: Mother's Day is significant to Mahtook given the sacrifices his mom made for him and the guidance she offered. Mikie described Mary Ann as athletic, but she didn't play sports. That didn't stop her from playing catch with her son, or hitting balls to him.
"She would take me out in the front yard," Mikie said. "She taught herself how to hit ground balls and fly balls to me in the front yard. It helped out a lot. It prepared me to go to practices." Mary Ann also knew when to lean on Mikie's many uncles to step in when a man's hand was needed.
"She knew exactly what she was doing," Mikie said. "There was a lot of trial-and-error along the way. She didn't make many mistakes. She had a good feel for when she needed to step in and when she needed somebody else to step in."
Mikie's sporting events evolved into social activities for Mary Ann and the twins. "My sisters and mom grew up in basketball gyms and at baseball fields," Mikie said. "They were stuck in this world from the very beginning and they supported me the entire time."
For all that Mary Ann Mahtook has accomplished in dire circumstances, she comes through as someone full of joy and a mother who cherishes her children. "I don't think I did anything differently than most mommas, just gave my kids a lot of love," Mary Ann said. "I do feel very blessed that my kids turned out the way they did."
Mahtook knows how blessed he has been to have Mary Ann as his mother. "She's one of the toughest critics on me, and one of the toughest people on me, of anyone," Mikie said. "She never let me get complacent or satisfied with where I was at. She knew. She's amazing."
Mahtook has started "The Mikie Mahtook Foundation," which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the education and prevention of heart disease, as well as other charitable causes. (B Chastain - MLB.com - May 8, 2015)
"[Mahtook] provides a lot of energy when he's in the lineup," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He plays really hard, and it shows. When he makes contact, he's busting out of the box, and that's only positive energy that kind of transitions into the dugout, and other guys see that. He's done a really nice job, and I'm looking forward to seeing him get more playing time here."
Mahtook is in his sixth stint with the Rays this season, and he allowed that he finished his season at Triple-A Durham feeling locked in. "I came up feeling good at the end of Durham," said Mahtook, who experienced a five-hit night for the Rays. "Kind of figured out a few things with my swing. I felt comfortable at the plate down there. So I've tried to keep that mindset. Obviously, the more consistent reps you see, the better you're going to feel."
Mahtook is athletic and starting to show all the tools that prompted the Rays to draft him. "Yeah, he's showing that [he's the total package] right now," Cash said. "He can run, he can hit, he's shown some power, he's does a really nice job in the outfield and can throw."
Mahtook's work has put him in the conversation to earn a Major League job in 2016. "It's obviously something you don't want to look too far ahead, you want to focus on the now and what you can do right now to help the team," Mahtook said. "Obviously, playing well is not going to hurt my chances. My goal is to make this team next year out of camp and be here and not ever have to go back to Triple-A. Hopefully my progress and the results I'm putting up right now help with that." (Chastain - mlb.com - 9/18/15)
Nov 24, 2016: Rays outfielder Mikie Mahtook appreciates having a platform to make a difference. That has allowed him to address a cause that is dear to him because of family circumstances. Mahtook's father, Mikie, died of cardiomyopathy at age 32, when Mikie was only 4 years old.
"Unexpectedly. He was healthy," said Mahtook. "He'd been a college football player. He played at LSU. He was in shape. He was actually playing tennis with a bunch of doctors. And he dropped on the court and instantly died. "It was one of those things where he showed no symptoms. Nobody knew he had it. He played sports his whole life. It's kind of one of those freak things that happen, and nobody should ever have to go through."
In January 2015, Mahtook launched the Mikie Mahtook Foundation, a nonprofit organization named after his late father and dedicated to the education and prevention of heart disease.
"The reason I started the foundation was to honor my dad, but also to help prevent and give awareness to heart disease," Mahtook said. "I wanted to help prevent other families going through what my family did.
"Heart disease can affect anybody. It affects athletes, people who aren't active—affects literally everyone. A lot of the diseases you can't cure, but you can prevent from happening, as long as you're aware of the preventative measures to take. You can prevent yourself from being affected by it and obviously, prevent your family from being affected by it." (B Chastain - MLB.com - Nov 24, 2016)
- June 2011: The Rays chose Mikie in the first round of the draft, the 31st pick overall, as compensation for the Yankees signing P Rafael Soriano. He signed with scout Rickey Drexler just before the August 15 deadline for a bonus of $1.15 million.
- Jan 18, 2017: The Rays traded Mahtook to the Tigers for PTBNL.