- In 1997, Matt was rated the second best high school quarterback in the country.
- After his senior football season, Matt was feted at several events in his home state and crossed paths with Troy Aikman, whose high school records he had broken during his career at Stillwater. Aikman was very encouraging about Matt's football prospects. He told reporters that Holliday reminded him of Elway and Marino.
He is the son of former Oklahoma State/University of Texas baseball coach Tom Holliday. In 2006, Tom became associate head coach at North Carolina State. Tom had played in the Pirates' organization.
- Matt hit .473-12-43 with 20 stolen bases his senior year of high school. But he passed up the chance of playing football and baseball for Oklahoma State. Instead he signed July 20, 1998 with the Rockies for a bonus of $844,000.
Matt's father, Tom, played baseball at the University of Miami, about 40 minutes from Dolphins Stadium. Tom Holliday was on Miami's first College World Series team, finishing second in 1974.
His brother, Josh, was a first baseman in the Blue Jays' organization. Now, he is the hitting coach at Georgia Tech. Uncle Dave is a scout for the Rockies.
And, Matt's grandfather once signed with the Yankees. World War II ended Don Holliday's baseball career before it began, though he played in the service, catching for future Hall of Famer Whitey Ford.
- In September 2001, Holliday signed a six-year contract to continue playing baseball only, which was worth a minimum of $700,000. So he again passed up an option to play two years of college football before going into the NFL draft.
Matt provides leadership. And he is a good teammate. He is a better person than he is a ballplayer.
For Holliday, the effects of growing up in Stillwater run deep. From a young age, he was surrounded by big-time athletes. Several times a year, Tom Holliday would have a cookout with the Cowboys' baseball team—guests included Robin Ventura, Jeromy Burnitz, and other future big leaguers. And Matt and his brother learned from those players.
However, not everything Matt learned from the older guys was positive. Tom used the negative experiences to teach his sons that if they screwed up, they'd get in trouble.
"I think it helped shape him," Tom says. "Matt was one of those kids who had his eyes open and his mouth shut. He'd see everything, and he'd say nothing."
- November 2003: Holliday was a surprise last-minute addition to Team USA after tearing up the Arizona Fall League. The team competed in a qualifying tournament in Panama, but lost to Mexico.
In the Arizona Fall League, Matt was a regular in the stadium's gym, then would return to his Mesa-area apartment and continue his muscle-enhancing exercises without weights or machines. His teammates said Holliday would use filled suitcases to do shoulder shrugs and bicep curls.
Then, during January, Matt would work out near his his home in Austin, Texas—often with then-Braves minor leaguers Kelly Johnson and Ryan Langerhans. When they were finished, the Rockies left fielder would opt to continue doing drills with his Dad's players.
"It was January and he was going all out, basically doing full spring training workouts," Johnson said.
The Arizona Fall League announced that it will induct Matt into its Hall of Fame during a ceremony in November. Joining Holliday in the 2014 induction class is Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford.
With the addition of the two All-Star outfielders, the AFL Hall of Fame will grow to include 36 members. It opened in 2001 to recognize former AFL players and managers who have gone on to have standout Major League careers. Roland Hemond, a longtime Major league executive, serves as chairman of the selection committee.
- Holliday was rated the ninth-best prospect in the Rockies' organization by Baseball America during the off-season before 2004 spring training.
- During 2004 spring training, Matt hit .321 with eight RBIs in 23 games and was the last position player sent out to Triple-A. But after he hit .364 with two home runs, five doubles, and four RBIs in his first six Triple-A games with the Colorado Springs SkySox, the Rockies called Holliday up for his Major League debut on April 16.
- In 2005, Holliday checked into spring training with the Rockies about 15 pounds lighter. He said it wasn't by design. "I didn't try to lose weight, but I ate healthy and ran a little more than I had in the past," Matt said.
Matt and his wife, Leslee, have three children—two sons, Jackson, who was born on December 4, 2004 and Ethan.
Matt is a good father. He has great character and is an excellent teammate. He is even-tempered. he prefers to spend time with his wife and family.
- Asked who the most influential person in his life is, Holliday said, "My faith in Jesus is the most influential part of my life. Of people in this world, probably my Mom and Dad. They did a great job of raising my brother and me, and teaching us right and wrong, and allowing me to be a good parent and being able to set a good example."
- His favorite dessert? "Im a big peanut butter fan," Matt said. "The peanut butter pie at Sullivan's Steakhouse is pretty unbelieveable."
Matt does some good impersonations.
And his musical tastes? "I like country music, but I'm not very particular. I usually like whatever's popular. I like Scott Stapp, the guy from Creed, and his solo album, The Great Divide," Matt said. It is Christian music, which he and wife Leslee enjoy.
Matt's teammates call him "Big Daddy." Clint Hurdle gave him the nickname and it stuck.
- Asked what he would be doing if he weren't playing baseball, Matt said, "I'd be coaching—probably baseball. Or, playing football. Whether I would have made it in football, we'll never know."
- Holliday is a good cook. He likes to grill. He does a good job with a steak he marinates in a blue cheese sauce.
For movies, Holliday likes anything Will Ferrel or Vince Vaughn do. He also liked the movie: Old School.
Jason Bateman is his favorite actor.Matt likes steak, country music and drives a G55 Mercedes Benz wagon. His spare time is spent with his family.
Todd Helton told Holliday, "I need to get a hobby. I really don't have one."
During the offseason after the 2007 campaign, Matt refined his diet, eschewing fried foods and sugar-based beverages. His mom was health conscious, so he grew up with an idea of how to eat properly. His wife, Leslee, now makes most of his meals. Good food and regular workouts leave him in remarkable shape.
By 2009, Holliday was a real fitness and nutrition nut—traits passed down from his mother. She worked as a trainer and was the family "food cop," as his Dad, Tom Holliday, puts it.
Holliday spends a lot of time on a stationary bike. With music blasting in his ears, he is lost to the world, pedaling away and logging so many miles that some of his new teammates like to call him Lance Armstrong.
"It's therapeutic for me," Matt says of his riding routine.
Holliday is a fierce competitor and very driven.
"I have a drive to be the best I can possibly be and to be one of the best players, if not the best player, in the league," Matt said. "Whether I get there or not is not necessarily the point. I want to exhaust every opportunity I have to do that. If I get there, great. If not, I can deal with that."
- In October 2012, Holliday had a rough month. While playing in the post-season with the Cardinals, his mother underwent colon cancer surgery. Then his back was so sore that he finally had to ask out of the lineup in Game Six of the NLCS.
- Matt says that his favorite ballpark to hit in is Fenway Park, because of the background. He says he sees the ball well and that it seems like the ball is lighter (they don't seem to rub as much mud on the ball as they do in other parks).
Walk-Up Music: Holliday has the same music Big Show uses as he enters the ring.
He made his Major League debut in 2004, and he has since won four Silver Slugger Awards and been named to six All-Star teams.
Holliday drove in the 1,000th run of his 11-year career earlier this season, and he recently became the 18th active player to tally 400 doubles and 1,000 runs scored. Entering the season, Holliday led all big league left fielders in hits, runs, doubles, and RBIs. He has hit .300 or higher in eight different seasons, and he has at least 25 doubles every year but one. (Langosch - mlb.com - 7/20/14)
Holliday was selected to start in the 2015 All-Star Game.
March 18, 2016: Adam LaRoche's decision to walk away from the final year of his contract after White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams asked him to reduce his son's presence in the clubhouse has caused a stir in the Chicago clubhouse, and it prompted discussion elsewhere about when it is appropriate to mix family and the baseball workplace.
The Cardinals, like most teams, have long welcomed children in their clubhouse, as long as the privilege isn't abused and the time is appropriate. In Spring Training, when the days are more laid back, families linger outside the clubhouse on most afternoons. Children periodically trail their fathers inside the clubhouse doors, though often they don't stay inside for long.
During the regular season, players' kids can be spotted out on the field before and during batting practice, and then sometimes in the clubhouse postgame. For players who spend so many days on the road during the season, having the added family time is appreciated.
"I know that [manager] Mike [Matheny] is very family-friendly, and [general manager John Mozeliak] and [owner] Mr. [Bill] Dewitt [Jr.] have created an environment that is very welcoming to the families and the kids," said Matt Holliday. "As a man with four kids, and two older boys who absolutely love to be around here, and would be here more if they could, I think it's on me to make sure that they are respectful. It's my job to make sure that nobody else has to alter their conversation or change how they behave based on having kids in here. That's how I look at it as far as having kids in here."
Holliday's two oldest sons, 9-year-old Ethan and 12-year-old Jackson, are among the most frequent young visitors in the Cardinals' clubhouse. Their presence has never caused an issue.
"Mike and his staff welcome children and, as a group, we believe this is a healthy approach," Mozeliak said. "Balance is a great word, and we respect how difficult the travel demands are on players and their families. We encourage players to take advantage of this and, for the most part, we have the players monitor this. Our expectation for the clubhouse is awareness, and there are times when we need the clubhouse closed." (J Langosch - MLB.com - March 19, 2016)
When the Rockies selected Matt in the 1998 Draft, he was listed as a third baseman. In fact, Holliday played only at the hot corner over his first three seasons in the Colorado farm system.
It wasn't until 2001 that Holliday shifted to the outfield, but it's fair to say the transition stuck. From his big league debut for the Rockies in '04 through the end of 2015 with the Cardinals, the seven-time All-Star did not spend a single inning at a spot other than left field, a stretch that spanned 1,614 games. However, that changed on April 3, 2016, when Holliday stepped in as St. Louis' Opening Day first baseman against Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano at PNC Park. (Holliday's debut was short-lived, as he moved to left field in the second inning when Tommy Pham had to leave the game with an injury.)
Nonetheless, Holliday lost his status as the active non-catcher with the most career games at one -- and only one -- spot in the field. The all-time leader is Derek Jeter (naturally), who played 2,674 games at shortstop. (Simon - MLB.com - 4/3/16)
Sept 30, 2016: Having informed Matt Holliday earlier this week that the Cardinals' organization is unlikely to exercise his $17 million option for 2017, general manager John Mozeliak announced that the Cardinals would activate Holliday from the disabled list in order to give the veteran outfielder an opportunity to salute the fans with one final appearance.
How they would script a sendoff amid a Wild Card race was unknown, but when manager Mike Matheny found the right moment, Holliday penned a storybook ending. A visibly emotional Holliday stepped to the plate amid a rousing ovation, and on reliever Zach Phillips' third pitch, blasted his 20th homer, an opposite-field shot into the Cardinals' bullpen for the first pinch homer of his career. It supplied another run in an eventual 7-0 win over the Pirates, but it was also a fitting cap to Holliday's Cardinals career if that, indeed, marked the end.
"Still have chills," manager Mike Matheny said afterward. "These guys understand what an important role he plays in this organization and what a great job he's done for each of them individually. That's how it should be. Then the fans took over from there and all the way through. I know it meant a great deal to him and probably more than what words can describe."
After rounding the bases, Holliday was met at the plate by close friend Matt Carpenter, who gave him a hug. Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, who, along with Holliday and Carpenter, make up the team's leadership core, emerged from the dugout to greet Holliday with an emotional embrace.
"Yeah, there's something magical about that," Wainwright said. "You can't make that stuff up. That homer right there, everybody in the dugout was saying, 'Man, it would be so cool if he hits a homer right here.' And he did it on an 0-2 pitch." After running through the team's home run receiving line and getting Carlos Martinez's customary splash of water in his face, Holliday acknowledged the fans once more with a tip of the helmet.• Holliday homers in perhaps last Cardinals at-bat
"It's hard to find the right words, I guess," Brandon Moss said of the moment. "It moves you a little bit because it's almost like he deserved that. You know what I mean? It isn't just, 'I hope he hits a home run here.' He deserves it. I just couldn't be happier for him."
"To see that kind of reception here in this baseball town, to see those numbers posted on the scoreboard -- they're real; he's earned them -- and then to go up there and hit a ball out to right-center field, I've seen him do it before," added Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "It's fantastic. It's another one of those stories you can't make up beforehand." (J Langosch - MLB.com - Oct 1, 2016)
March 11, 2017: On a Yankees roster littered with twenty-somethings, Matt Holliday is the exception to the rule. He's fine with that.
"It's been great. The guys have been great," said Holliday. "Got a chance to get to know some of the guys, go out and play some ball, and the team looks really good."
It's clearly a great first impression for the oldest Yankee on the roster. Holliday turned 37 in January, which puts him seven months ahead of left-hander CC Sabathia for seniority. But to put his age into the proper perspective, Holliday was 12 years old when teammates Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird were born -- back in the early nineties .For Holliday, leading his younger Yankees teammates is a work in progress.
"I think there's plenty of leadership in place. I just try to come in and do my part and get to know the guys," said Holliday. "Leadership is best had when you build relationships with guys. I've really tried to take these first few weeks and get to know some guys and really kind of build relationships. If some sort of leadership is necessary, guys are much more willing to listen and interact when they know you."
Aaron Judge has a locker next to Holliday's, and the 24-year-old outfielder has become a sponge. Holliday pushes Judge during batting practice, where the young Yankee appreciates the veteran's approach.
"It's been great. That's the great thing about Matty, about any great leader, is that they get to know their teammates and who they're with," said Judge. "He's out there challenging us young guys to compete and play harder every day, so it's been great so far." (M Nabors - MLB.com - March 11, 2017)
April 8, 2017: Matt Holliday became the seventh active Major Leaguer with 2,000 hits, reaching the plateau with a first-inning single to right field off the Orioles' Kevin Gausman in the Yankees' 5-4 loss.
"It means that I've been able to play for a long time and get some hits," Holliday said. "It's a pretty good milestone. It'll be something I'll be pretty proud of." (B Hoch - MLB.com - April 8, 2017)