Matzmania has hit the Commack home of Bert Moller, the maternal grandfather of Steven Matz. Not only is he receiving calls about his grandson's sensational pitching and hitting debut Sunday for the Mets, but the 82-year-old retired Grumman employee and Air Force veteran is gaining his own following.
Grandpa Moller might be headed for viral status on YouTube for his over-the-top head-slapping reaction during Steven's at-bats during the game. "That's what they tell me. I haven't seen it yet,'' he said Monday. "They said my reaction to his hitting ability is kind of a big thing on the Internet. I was hitting my head with my hand going, 'Wow, look at that.' And I got calls from people I haven't seen in 10, 15 years.''
Moller still lives in the same home his daughter Lori, the pitcher's mother, grew up in. He bought the home in 1958, the year after his beloved Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles.
"Of course, when they left Brooklyn, there was no way a Dodger person could switch to be a Yankee fan,'' he said. "I watched when they played out in L.A. but didn't have much interest. When the Mets came, hey, now we had a team again. My late wife [Evelyn] and her mom were avid Met fans. They would sit and they would watch every game start to finish.''
Steven is one of 10 grandchildren. "When Steven was playing, my wife was a driving force of us going to every single game,'' he said of the player's early years.
They did not attend many big-league games with the grandkids. "The cost of [major-league] games became a problem,'' he said. "Believe it or not, years ago, you could get a ticket in the bleachers by getting 10 box tops from a milk carton.''
Moller and the rest of the immediate family watched the game in style Sunday from a suite at Citi Field. Moller had an inkling that Matz was close to being called up when the two spoke on Father's Day.
"I said to him, 'Have you heard anything?' '' Moller said. "He said [pitching coach] Frank Viola had said to him there's a lot of rumbling going on. He said that [manager] Wally Backman had called Terry Collins and said, 'Hey, he's ready and he's just wasting his time down here.' So we knew it was coming.
"It's kind of an accumulation of years and years of watching him grow up and playing ball. I have 10 grandkids. Seven of them were boys. I got to see a lot of baseball games with the seven boys. Stevie was the last one of the boys to watch play ball.''
Exciting as it was to watch his grandson in a major-league game, Moller recalled a moment equally thrilling: "Holding him when he was one day old.''