By JAMES TUBB on November 6, 2021.
The last few days have been a whirlwind for Hatter Mike Frostad.
The 49-year-old is the assistant athletic trainer for the Atlanta Braves, winners of the 2021 World Series on Tuesday night. When interviewed on Thursday, Frostad said he had been enjoying the celebrations.
“We had a pretty good celebration following the win back at the hotel and then jumped on the plane the next day to come back here and had a great reception at the airport from some Delta employees … it’s been non-stop,” Frostad said.
He started his career in 1996 with the Blue Jays organization in St. Catherines, Ont., before joining the Medicine Hat Baby Jays for two seasons. He says his time working in the minor leagues, Medicine Hat included, helped prepare him for what would be thrown his way in the majors.
“I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I met my wife in Medicine Hat and we’re happy, we still live there. Without that stepping stone in Medicine Hat, I think it’s really just a great way to get started and getting my foot in the door there was really beneficial to me.”
Frostad made the jump to the major leagues with the Blue Jays in 2010, when Alex Anthopoulos was the general manager. When Anthopoulos made the move to Atlanta and Frostad was let go by Toronto after 22 years with the team in 2017, Anthopoulos hired him to work on the Braves. Frostad says he reached out to Anthopoulos, who was quarantining when the Braves won the World Series, to say thank you for all of the opportunities he’s provided him.
“He’s been a great influence on me and my career and he’s been the one that’s really given me the opportunities, and I can’t thank him enough for that,” Frostad said.
While in Toronto and Atlanta, Frostad worked under George Poulis, who was the head athletic trainer and someone Frostad says he’s developed a close relationship with.
“Just to be able to learn from George every day and work alongside him, we’ve been working together for so long that we’ve got the non-verbal communication that we don’t even need to say it, we just know what each other is thinking,” Frostad said.
Frostad says his time in Toronto was a positive one and called the 2015 Bautista bat flip one of the biggest moments he could remember. He said being a part of the Jays team that finally made the playoffs wasn’t as great as the win in Atlanta, but there were higher expectations for Canada’s only team.
“Those teams in Toronto, those were unbelievable rosters and I think that we were expected to win those years … this team, this year in Atlanta, it’s the fourth straight year we’ve made the playoffs and fourth straight we’ve won the division. The roster had so much turnover and losing key guys … this team just pulled together and somehow even with only 88 wins in the regular season, we just gelled at the right time and we were underdogs for the entire postseason … I think that helped us out a lot. Just not having to live up to those expectations because we were not supposed to do this.”
His day-to-day job is doing prep work with players during pre-game and helping to get guys through their routines. Once the game starts, he is on alert for injury or to see if anyone has altered their mechanics and is getting hurt. He says he gets to watch the game from the best seat in the house in the dugout.
Frostad says getting to be a part of a championship where he helped guys stay healthy and able to their job is extremely rewarding.
“That’s really one of the reasons as well why we do this,” Frostad said. “We are doing our best to keep these guys on the field every day, doing a lot of maintenance work to keep them going and knowing what they can and can’t play through, and just to know that you’ve made an impact on these guys is so satisfying to know you have been a big part of their success as well.”
He called starting pitcher Charlie Morton’s broken leg in the series the most unfortunate injury he’s seen in his career. He also said it was hard seeing stars like Ronald Acuna Jr. and Calgary product Mike Soroka suffer injuries that kept them off the field, but was happy to see they stayed around the team. Frostad said they rehabbed alongside the team all year and he was proud to say all the Braves trusted him and the rest of the staff to keep them healthy.
“I think they know they can trust us, there’s a lot of experience in this room between myself, George and Jeff Stevenson, our other assistant trainer … there’s a lot of baseball experience in this room and I think the players realize that they are not dealing with someone that’s fresh out of school, and that goes back to the seasoning you get in the minor leagues and going through the grind.”
In his 10th season in the majors, and Frostad says he is enjoying his job and looks to keep working for years to come.
“I wouldn’t trade this for the world. People always say, ‘If you enjoy what you do you never work a day in your life.’ So I can honestly say that this is something I’ve enjoyed doing for 26 years now and I’m looking to keep going from here.”
He doesn’t get a lot of down time, as once free agency starts up Frostad says the medical staff will work to review the records of any joining players while also looking after the Braves current players in their off-season workouts. One thing he and his wife are working on alongside being an MLB athletic trainer is converting Blue Jays fans in the area.
“There’s a lot of Blue Jays fans in Medicine Hat but we’re hoping to turn them into Braves fans.”