FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM|
Jacob Myking has been a starter for Kalaheo ever since he transferred from Mid-Pacific Institute three years ago.
What a great catch
Jacob Myking has found a home
at catcher for Kalaheo's baseball team
When it comes to baseball, Jacob Myking is plainly a student of the game, but the leadership qualities he brings to his team on game day were already in place when he took up the sport.
"I've always tried to be a leader in everything I do," said Myking, Kalaheo's senior catcher. "I want to be someone people can look up to."
His athletic abilities aside, Myking's strength may be his natural way with people -- an ability to draw others to him -- which makes him ideally suited to play catcher. Except for a few stints as a pitcher in Little League, he has never known another position on the baseball field.
"In a sense, you control the game," he said of playing catcher. "You're in on every play, and I like that."
This spring, Myking's leadership skills have gone a long way in helping him and his teammates as they battle through what has been a season of peaks and valleys. The Mustangs are 3-4 entering today's game at McKinley and are in jeopardy of missing the Oahu Interscholastic Association playoffs altogether. Individually, Myking is batting .350 with a slugging percentage of .550 and has had a solid senior year behind the plate, but the Mustangs still have plenty of unfinished business to resolve.
"Our season hasn't turned out the way we expected it to be," he said. "We're all just trying to contribute right now so we can get back on track. But we're a team that picks each other up.
"Our goal as a team is to make the OIA playoffs and go from there," he added. "Last year, we got in and ended up going to the state tournament. We want to go back there. What's killing us is our errors. We outhit Kalani in a game recently (an 8-0 loss), but we had nine errors. And our team is usually known for defense."
Myking's own commitment to playing solid defense is evident in the individualized Sunday morning workouts he began in Little League and continue today.
"My coaches have always pushed me, and I still work out every Sunday with one of them (Eddie Higa)," he said. "He's the guy who really made me love the game. I've always been lucky in that my coaches have always been there for me."
Myking finds additional support at home.
"They're all for me," he said of his parents, John and Suzanne Myking. "They know how much I love the game. My goal is to eventually play pro ball, and it's something I'm willing to work for."
In Jacob's view, the Mykings are more a fishing family than a baseball family. In fact, he is the first of his family to play baseball. His father, John, is a commercial fisherman, but it is unlikely Jacob will follow that same path.
"I went with him once, and it wasn't for me," he said. "I was seasick for 18 of the 21 days. My (15-year-old) brother Travis really likes it, though. Fishing is something I could fall back on, but it's not something I'd like to do."
Although Myking played football for the Mustangs (he divided his time between linebacker and safety), he has always been more at home on the baseball field. When he played Little League, he used to arrive on foot at Aikahi Park before 8 a.m., regardless of what time his own game was to be played. Baseball became more a lifestyle than a pastime. After classes at Kalaheo, he tries to be first to practice.
one of THE defining moments of his baseball career came during his freshman year, the one season when he was rarely in the lineup. He attended Mid-Pacific Institute that year.
"I really enjoyed it there -- I learned a lot, and it made me realize that I might not always be a starter," he said. "I had no problem sitting on the bench -- I was still learning every day. If I hadn't gone there, I probably wouldn't be the player I am today. I made a lot of friends there, and it was hard to leave, just as it had been hard to leave (the Kailua community) to go there."
At Kalaheo, where he was reunited with his childhood friends, he blossomed into a three-year starter under coach Alex Racoma. He also found another role model in Mustangs' hitting coach Joey Meyer, who played at Punahou and the University of Hawaii, as well as for the Milwaukee Brewers.
"He's been a real inspiration to me," he said. "Getting to know him has made my dream seem more realistic. He worked hard to be where he is."
Like Ryan, working hard at baseball has always been second nature to Myking.
"Even during football, I couldn't wait until baseball season, and I'd stay around and do things after practice to help me with baseball. You have to love it. I suppose a lot of guys do it (play catcher) because they have to, but I've always loved it. I carry the baseball almanac around with me all day at school. I read it at lunch. I never get tired of it."
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM|
More on the Mustang
Full name: Jacob Martin Myking (also goes by Jake)
Favorite food: Sashimi
Favorite baseball player: Ivan Rodriguez
Favorite TV show: SportsCenter
Wheels: 1998 Dodge Ram
Hobbies: "Pretty much just baseball."
Favorite quote: "Winners make it happen. Losers let it happen."