BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Most people believed Mikie Mathook's decision to leave for pro baseball would be a slam dunk. But the departing former LSU baseball star says that was not the case.
"That was the perception here and around the country," Mahtook told the media at a farewell news conference Wednesday morning, "But it wasn't an easy decision at all. That's why it went down to the deadline. That's why it went 5 minutes to the deadline."
Despite signing for a hefty bonus of 1.15 million dollars, Mahtook says money wasn't really a factor.
"The money will be there if I'm successful in baseball. Leaving this all behind is hard for me."
Mahtook went on to say he could "write a book" on all the pros and cons that went into this choice. One of the cons was certainly LSU's lack of success on the diamond as of late, getting bounced from the 2010 NCAA Regionals and being left out of the tournament altogether this past season.
"After winning it all my freshman year, the last two years, have been a little weird," Mahtook admitted. "It does leave a sour taste in your mouth. And it does make it harder to leave. Because I know what kind of team we have coming back next year."
When asked about continuing to refer to LSU as "we", Mahtook had a Mahtook-like answer.
"Absolutely. I always, forever will be a Tiger."
As many people know, Mahtook's father Michael passed away at the youthful age of 32 years old due to a heart attack. Mikie was only 4 years old at the time.
"I'm sure he'd like to be here with me, hug me and tell me how proud he is of me," Mahtook says will a smile. "His guidance has always highly influenced me. I know I always have two eyes looking down on me."
Mikie's courageous mother MaryAnn has certainly fought through her share of ordeals also. Not the least of which being a recent cancer survivor.
"She's excited. My family has been through a lot these pat few years. I see how healthy she is, how much she's grown. Knowing that she's alright, that put me at ease. OK, I can go."
Mahtook also shared he's excited to be passing his number down to his best friend, junior outfielder Mason Katz.
"I didn't just want a freshman to get it," laughs Mahtook, "8 means a lot to me. Mason demonstrates many of my characteristics on the field. He plays the game hard, he plays the game fast, a little reckless at times, you're not sure what he's going to do in the outfield. He loves LSU and he loves his team. And that's what LSU baseball is all about. So I asked if he would take it and he said he'd be honored."
And well he should be.
For more on Mikie Mahtook, be sure to watch our sportscasts tonight at 6 & 10 pm.