NORWALK — As a former catcher with the Brien McMahon baseball team, Steve Buckett has always taken a keen interest in the players who followed at that position, even while he was an assistant coach at Stamford.
So before a game in 2018, he asked John Cross, then McMahon’s head coach, about a freshman the Senators had behind the plate. The player’s name was Pete Meyerson.
“Just the way he was receiving the ball in between innings caught my attention,” Buckett said. “Later in the game, he had a 3-0 count on him and we’re thinking bottom-of-the-order guy, 3-0 count, he’s a freshman… well, John gave him a green light and he hit it over the left-field fence at Stamford High.”
Meyerson went on to hit two home runs that day and left a lasting impression.
Now, three years later, Buckett has a front-row seat for Meyerson’s exploits as the first-year head coach at Brien McMahon.
The 6-foot-2 Meyerson, a senior co-captain who has committed to play at Lafayette College, has been racking up hits for the Senators, posting a .429 batting average and .600 on-base percentage with five home runs and 21 RBIs in 12 games this spring.
Even with the flashy stats, Meyerson isn’t satisfied.
“I feel great (but) I always feel like I could be doing better,” Meyerson said. “There’s still some pitches I feel like I’ve been missing. But I’ll trade those personal numbers for wins. I’m just trying to win and get that for my team — just trying to make contributions that way.”
After having a chance to see Meyerson play and practice on a daily basis, Buckett has said one thing that stands out is the attention to detail.
“He’s very detail-oriented,” Buckett said. “We’re waiting for the bus, everybody’s getting taped up and seeing the trainer, and he’s already been out here for a half-hour hitting off the tee. He’s a dedicated, baseball-is-his-life type of guy, and I think he’s going to do just fine playing at the next level.”
While COVID made the recruiting process difficult in 2020, Meyerson said he was able to bond with the coaches at Lafayette, where former assistant Tim Reilly has taken over as head coach.
“It’s a good feeling knowing someone wants you,” Meyerson said. “I just wanted to have a place to call home. (Baseball) was one of the most important things when I was choosing a college. I just love the game. It teaches a lot of life lessons.”
Meyerson could set a McMahon record for career home runs before he’s finished — an impressive feat considering his junior season was canceled. That would’ve been Buckett’s first campaign with the Senators, but instead of games, it was Zoom meetings and phone calls to keep the team connected.
When they finally got on the field for their first game, the Senators showed a dramatic flair, rallying from a 4-0 deficit with five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to defeat Ridgefield 5-4. Meyerson had a walk during that rally, which was capped by a grand slam from Kevin Pascual.
“Everyone was hungry for the first game, especially with Coach Buckett coaching his first game,” Meyerson said. “It was just passing the stick. A couple of guys got on, I got on, and we just kept passing the baton. Eventually, Kevin came up big. We got to break the rock.”
Breaking the rock is a new tradition for the Senators, borrowed from the University of Virginia football team.
“We paint it the logo of the team we’re playing, and at the end of the game we get to take a sledgehammer and break the rock,” Meyerson said. “I felt like it would be a good idea to bring it to McMahon.”
The Senators are 7-5 with four games remaining in the regular season, including Wednesday’s home contest against city rival Norwalk.
Meyerson said McMahon is looking to make a bid for a few playoff home games, as every team qualifies for the FCIAC tournament this year.
“Every team is a challenge,” Meyerson said. “We’re going into every game with the attitude to play up to every team. We don’t want to play down on anyone. We’re just looking to finish the year strong.”
And as they do, Buckett is still thrilled to watch every Meyerson plate appearance, a point he made while referring to a discussion on the GameTimeCT “High and Tight” podcast.
“They were talking about players in the state who, when you go to a game, you’ve got to take your phone out and get your camera out,” Buckett said. “Pete’s one of those guys, because every time he’s up, whether it’s a home run or not, he has a good at-bat; he’s a tough out.
“He doesn’t get cheated and he always puts a good swing on the ball.”