MLB hopeful Woods adding to family legacy

Posted 6/22/23

"You might be writing about my grandson’s baseball career someday,” the late Don Mezzanotte said to me about 15 years ago - back when I was a Providence Journal sportswriter.

At the …

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MLB hopeful Woods adding to family legacy


"You might be writing about my grandson’s baseball career someday,” the late Don Mezzanotte said to me about 15 years ago - back when I was a Providence Journal sportswriter.

At the time Don Mezzanotte’s grandson, Matt Woods, was playing Little League.

It wasn’t the first time someone had boasted to me about a grandchild’s athletic accomplishments. Usually, I would pass them off as the starry-eyed dreams of a proud grandparent and not give them much thought.

But over the decades I had learned when Don Mezzanotte talked about baseball, it was a good idea to pay attention.

After all, I had watched Don Mezzanotte coach Pilgrim High baseball teams to five state championships from 1970 to 1978. Then I watched him coach the Providence College baseball team to successful seasons for a decade.

Such enough, in both the 2017 and ’18 high school baseball seasons I was writing about Mezzanotte’s grandson while I chronicled Woods’ performance en route to a pair of Providence Journal All-State baseball selections.

The two All-State baseball awards were part of a sensational athletic career[J1] Woods enjoyed during his day at Pilgrim High from 2015-18. In additional to being a baseball star, Woods also was a basketball standout. It was a roundball career that has earned him a permeant spot on the wall of the Pilgrim gym as a 1,000-point career scorer.

There certainly is a genetic athletic pedigree.

His mother, Sue (Mezzanotte) Woods, was an All-State field hockey player at Pilgrim in 1988. His father, Chris Woods, was a high school basketball and baseball star in Connecticut before attending Providence College. His uncle Tom Mezzanotte was a baseball star at both Pilgrim and Providence College and spent time playing professional baseball before attending med-school in preparation for a career as an orthopedic surgeon.

And, of course, there was his grandfather who was a baseball star at Providence College in the 1950s before becoming a legendary coach.

“My grandfather was my first baseball coach; my role model and my best friend – all in one person,” Woods said recently about Don Mezzanotte, who died in 2020.

“He taught me how to be resilient and to always bet on myself,” Woods added.

His performance during high school days earned Woods a baseball scholarship to Bryant University. He highlighted his four-year Bryant career with his selection as the Northeast Conference Player of the Year in his senior season in 2022.

His .384 average last season which included 32 extra hits and 45 RBI and 43 runs scored was one of the best seasonal offensive performances in the history of Bryant baseball history.

Under NCAA rules his 2020 Covid-shortened season gave him another year of collegiate eligibility, even though he had academically graduated from Bryant with his Bachelor’s degree.

He could have returned to Bryant for the current academic year and played baseball while also studying for a master’s degree. But last summer, he accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Maryland to play the 2023 season as a Big Ten Conference baseball player while studying for an MBA.

He earned a starting berth in the Terrapins outfield this spring and was hitting .305 in 23 games before being sidelined a few weeks ago when he crashed into an outfield fence chasing a fly ball.

He was back in the lineup by the end of April, however and played a big role in Maryland’s sweep of a doubleheader against Indiana in the final week-end of April. Going into the first week of May, Maryland was leading the 13-team Big Ten Conference standings with an 11-4 Conference record and a 30-15 overall slate

He has a passion for playing baseball and so he hopes to continue playing beyond his college days.

“My hope is to have an opportunity to play professional baseball. That will happen if it is meant to happen,” said Woods, who is eligible for the Major League Amateur draft in July.

For the time being, however, Woods is focused on trying to help the Terps finish their regular season strong then battle for the Big Ten title in the Conference tournament that begins May 23rd.

“I am fortunate to have many people in my family consistently coming to my games, even if I am far away,” said Woods. “My aunt and Nana, along with my uncle and cousins, few flew down to Florida to see me play. My dad travels most weekends to watch me play. My Mom, brother and sister and my other grandmother are coming this week-end (May 6-7). I am very fortunate to have a support group with that that believes in me, most importantly as a person, regardless of what kind of baseball player I am. “

And while he calls his four years at Bryant “The best time of my life” and that he now has become one of the few Rhode Islanders to enjoy the experience of being a Big Ten Student/Athlete, he will never forget his days at Pilgrim High.

“Playing the different sports at Pilgrim with my friends; getting to play against so many different athletes in the state was so much fun,” said Woods, who also played soccer at Pilgrim, in addition to baseball and basketball.

Woods, MLB, baseball


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