The conversation between father and son came in October.
Mike Martin Jr. had time to evaluate his roster in fall ball. Tyler Martin was a high school senior with baseball aspirations. Martin Jr. was looking to build depth on the infield and his son turned out to be a versatile prospect who met the Seminoles’ needs.
In the next few months, the process moved quickly. Tyler Martin was already in good academic standing but had work to do so that he could enroll at FSU for the spring semester.
And just weeks later, the kid who grew up around the program that was coached by his grandfather and dad would be taking part in practice. Not practice as he prepares for his senior season of high school baseball but instead with the Seminoles and being the leadoff hitter on Opening Day.
“Growing up in the dugout, I know how things work, I know how to act,” Martin said Wednesday in his first interview with the media who cover FSU. “… It’s been fun so far.”
It’s also fun when you are producing at the plate and, through the first 12 games, Martin is leading all regular starters with a .385 batting average and a .545 on-base percentage. His five doubles lead the team and his 14 runs scored are tied with Matheu Nelson and Elijah Cabell for the team lead.
Martin led off FSU’s opener against Niagara, remarking that it felt weird to hear his name called by the public address announcer. But he worked a walk (what else?) in his first college plate appearance and takes pride in working the count, looking at a number of pitches early in the game to give his teammates a sense of what they will be seeing when they go up to the plate.
An infielder who can play second base or third base, Tyler Martin also had one of his biggest moments on Tuesday when he drove in the winning run in the 11th as FSU walked off with a 9-8 victory over Mercer.
“It was special, definitely,” Tyler Martin said, reflecting on teammates running from out of the third-base dugout to celebrate. “Coming back from that deficit in the eighth, it was something to remember.”
Martin Jr. and Tyler Martin knew that there would be comments about him suiting up for the Seminoles in 2020, especially with it being Martin Jr.’s first year as head coach. It was a topic they discussed ahead of time but also one where they felt Tyler was prepared.
“There’s something to be said about growing up in the dugout, you get used to it, the attention, being able to control yourself,” Martin Jr. said. “He beats himself up a little bit too much and we’re working on that, to be able to flush things. I thought he would be a guy that would eventually get to where he could hit at the top, possibly. He’s a good player. I’m glad he’s with us.”
It’s clear there is father-son pride but the two are used to having a player-coach relationship between the white lines.
“He’s been my coach my whole life,” Tyler Martin said. “On the field, he’s the coach, I’m a player. There’s a fine line. We’ve always been good there.”
Tyler Martin may be the new kid on the team but he’s a familiar face. He reflected upon knowing the players well and even meeting Chase Haney when Tyler was just 12. Now Haney is a redshirt senior reliever. Martin recalled observing Haney for “the way he carries himself, the way he acts.”
That example – provided from years of Seminoles who have been through the program as well as what he learned from his dad and grandfather – has helped prepare him for these moments.
“I’m not surprised at all,” Haney said. “He knows more about the game than half the team. He’s learned from two of the best to ever do it. … He’s got a lot of grit to him.”