Relentless competitor Gluck chooses Franklin & Marshall

By Bob Behre | October 12, 2019

Matt Gluck is the type of player teammates love playing with and coaches love coaching. If you are a fan of the game, Gluck is also an awful lot of fun to watch.

“Matt works 100 percent at everything he does,” says his West Morris High School coach Tom Reindel. “He doesn’t know how to halfway something. He has incredible leadership skills and he gets better as the competition gets better. He loves to compete.”

Gluck is a baseball MacGyver of sorts. He has a tool to solve every potential challenge. Need a base runner? Gluck can drop one down, draw a walk or beat out a grounder. Need a runner in scoring position? Gluck can steal a base. Need a runner moved over? Gluck can hit a bouncer to the right side. Need a run? Gluck can shoot a gap.

Matt Gluck diving across home plate is as familiar a scene in Long Valley as the sun rising.

And if you need someone to drive an opponent nuts, the 5-7 Gluck can do that, too, with pleasure.

“I’m not a big kid but I will take advantage of every opportunity,” said Gluck, who committed to Franklin & Marshall on Aug. 3. “I’ll put myself out there for my team to win. I will not take a play off or take anything for granted. You only get an opportunity once. I’ll do anything I can to win a game.”

Gluck has been a Diamond Jack since he was 10 years old and has started for his high school team since his freshman season. It would be difficult to find a bigger baseball junky, a player with more passion for the sport, than Gluck.

“Matt is a terrific player who has put up huge numbers for us through three years,” says Reindel. “But his value to the program cannot be measured in stats. He is one of the hardest working young men I have come across.”

West Morris High School’s Matt Gluck doubles as stud for the Diamond Jacks Super 17 team.

If you haven’t seen Gluck play, imagine the Yankees Brett Gardner as a high school player. He’s a relentlessly aggressive ballplayer willing to play wherever his coach needs him and do whatever is required to win.

“I coached him when he was a 12U player with us,” said Kevin Cust, Diamond Nation’s director of baseball operations. “I remember telling Matt he needed to be that type of player, like Gardner, all the time. It’s been fun watching him take that suggestion and run with it. And it was really cool to see him this summer, as a 17 years old, doing those same things.”

Gluck made the same instant impression at West Morris as he did in the Diamond Jacks program as a neophyte grinder.

 “Matt is a four-year starter at third base and he is one of the best defensive infielders in the state,” said Reindel.

Gluck started the past three seasons at third base for West Morris and will move to shortstop next spring, replacing Aidan Healy, a talented player in his own right now playing at Furman. Gluck also played shortstop during West Morris’ run to the NJSIAA Group 3 championship game last spring when Healy was pitching.

“He was our team MVP as a freshman and, arguably, the most important player for us the past two years,” said Reindel.” Gluck already has 87 career hits and has scored 67 runs the past three seasons. He boasted a .411 on-base percentage in 2019 when he lashed out 26 hits, drew 20 walks and was hit by five pitches. He also drove in 19 runs and stole 12 bases for 26-7 West Morris.

“I play the game because I love it. It’s my passion,” said Gluck. “I like to prove, too, that even at 5-7 you can go after your dream and achieve it. Just because you’re smaller doesn’t mean you can’t make it to where you want to be.”

Matt Gluck will be starting at third base for West Morris for a fourth straight year next spring before heading to Franklin & Marshall to further hone his academic and baseball skills.

Gluck’s height has never been an issue for him at any level of ball, unless you’ve made the mistake of underestimating him because of it. He has competed at a high level for the Diamond Jacks, too, playing for the Super 17 squad this past summer under the direction of coach Cust.

“Matt is just a pleasure to coach,” says Cust. “He’s great to be around, he’s always reliable and the type of kid you want in your program. He does and says all the right things.”

Gluck attracted the attention of a number of colleges this summer and began to focus in on a few that turned his head.

“I was looking at high academic schools with competitive baseball teams,” said Gluck, “like Lafayette, TCNJ, Muhlenberg and some other Centennial Conference school. I wanted to play at a school where their coaches wanted me.” Gluck visited Franklin & Marshall at the end of July and began to seriously weigh his college options.

“Franklin & Marshall seemed like a nice fit,” he said. “The campus was beautiful. The architecture of the buildings is amazing. They are a competitive Division 3 school with a winning record almost every year. I wanted to continue to be in a competitive and winning atmosphere.”

Gluck has experienced a lot of winning at West Morris, particularly in 2019 when the Wolfpack reached both the Morris County Tournament championship game and the state final in Group 3. Despite falling to eventual Non-Public A state champ Delbarton, 2-1, in the MCT final and Wall in the Group 3 final, it was a season the West Morris players will embrace forever.

“It was 100 percent an unforgettable season,” said Gluck. “I’ve made friendships for life in a team atmosphere that was something special. No other West Morris team had a season like that. It was really special for me and my teammates.”

It was West Morris’ first-ever state final berth after the team won its first-ever sectional championship; a tension packed 2-1 victory over Nutley. Next up was an equally pressure-packed 5-4 triumph over conference rival Roxbury in the Group 3 semifinals. 

Gluck, who failed to reach base in just four of West Morris’ 33 games, transitioned into the summer smoothly with the talented Diamond Jacks Super 17 squad.

“We traveled all over this summer,” he said. “It was my last summer with all my Diamond Jack buddies. It was a good atmosphere; a winning culture and we had a great experience in Georgia. Coach Cust is so knowledgeable about the game. He taught us the importance of being lose when competitive. When you play loose everything comes to you. Your natural instincts take over. This summer was everything I could have asked for.”

Gluck is playing for the Diamond Jacks this fall, too, while also playing for the West Morris American Legion team. “Baseball is a sport you can’t take off,” said Gluck. “You need to see live pitching to get better. This is helping me to prepare for college. I expect to start my freshman year. I have an opportunity and I’ll work as hard as I can to reach my goal.”

All of Gluck’s work since that first 10U season with the Diamond Jacks is paying off.

“The Diamond Jacks coaches made me the player I am today,” he said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the skills all those coaches taught me the past eight years. They’ve taught me had to manage adversity and how to be a good player. All the credit goes to them.”

Final Thought: West Morris’ success enabled Gluck and his teammates to run into two of New Jersey’s very best pitchers last spring. Major League draft pick Jack Leiter, a righthander now at Vanderbilt, pitched one-hitter against West Morris in the Morris County Tournament final. Wall’s lefthander Trey Dombroski, who stifled West Morris in the state final, is now pitching for Monmouth University. named Dombroski the State Pitcher of the Year.

“Leiter was throwing 98 that day,” said Gluck. “That’s the adversity the game throws at you and it’s the best part of the game. Facing pitchers like those two guys is something I’ll never forget. They made me stronger as a player. I’ll probably never face a pitcher better than Leiter, so no one else really worries me.”

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