Captain Ben Metzner: Hitting it out of the park

Adam Frommer and Gabby Chong

Captain and center fielder of the Varsity Baseball Team, Ben Metzner (12) is in the midst of his fourth and final season as a Lion; his teammates say he will leave a legacy of dedication, leadership, and hard work.

Metzner began to play baseball when he was as young as he can remember, he said. His older brother, Eli ’16 showed interest in the sport, and Ben naturally followed.

“It started with playing in our room with a little wiffle ball bat and a ball, and we used to have super competitive games in our shared room,” Ben said.

He began by participating in the West Side Little League in Manhattan but only truly discovered his passion for baseball once when he entered into high school. Ben made the Varsity Baseball team in his freshman year.

After his first year on the team, Metzner decided that he wanted to compete in college, he said.

“I saw this promotional video that the Texas Christian [University] baseball team made that showed the life of a college baseball player. It was called ‘The Grind’ and it showed the athletes waking up early to lift and run, practicing, and then eventually playing in the College World Series,” Metzner said. After watching the video, he felt inspired to pursue baseball in college.

He has since spent his summers as part of a tournament team with other athletes who seek to get recruited for college. The teams participated in different competitions around the east coast.

As Metzner progressed, he became one of the best players on the school team, his teammates say.

“He’s really fast so he can steal a lot of bases. He can hit for power. He is hitting really well this year so far, and he’s a good fielder too,” teammate Ryan Webb (10) said.

Unexpectedly, Metzner’s accomplishments within the sport have not come without setbacks, Ben’s father, Scott Metzner said. He was unable to play to his full potential during a critical college recruiting period, due to a hamstring injury.

“This difficult experience falls into the category of what Dr. Kelly would call a ‘teachable moment’, or in other words a painful, but valuable, life lesson,” Scott Metzner said.

Despite Ben’s obstacles, he has taken on a mentorship role as an approachable leader, teammate Andrew Rosen (12) said.

His leadership style is such that he influences the team by his example. “He sacrifices himself by making diving catches in order to reach base,” teammate Adrian Arnaboldi (10) said. That is a conscious effort on his own part, Metzner said. He recognizes the role he plays and enjoys it.

Metzner’s presence has motivated fellow teammates to train harder and perform at their best capacity, Rosen said.

“He’s challenging himself more this year than ever in terms of leading by example. He steps up when it counts,” Varsity Baseball Head Coach Matthew Russo said.

Whenever the team makes errors, Metzner invariably reassures them to remain positive and to concentrate on the following play, Webb said.

“The program has seen talented kids play collegiate baseball but there has always been a disconnect between those players and the rest of the team,” Rosen said. Metzner has shifted the team culture to a place where every player at the same time has respect for him, meanwhile knowing he is receptive to others.

By taking his own initiative, Metzner fosters an energized team environment, and players have subsequently followed his lead, Arnaboldi said. Even after a loss against Collegiate and without any direction, Metzner led the team in running laps shortly after the game concluded, to be more adequately prepared for future games.

“I have never seen anybody work harder than Ben,” Rosen said. “He is commonly looked upon by the rest of the team to make the outstanding play in center field or the big home run over the gym. Just by being himself, Ben has been a leader to this team.”

Russo has been Metzner’s biggest motivator and influence, Metzner said. Russo coached him for football and baseball for the past three years and made it his job to prepare him to play in college.

“He’s helped me become a better competitor, player, but most importantly, a leader,” Metzner said.

Playing both football and baseball with Russo has forced Metzner to become tougher and more competitive, he said.

“I encourage him to do things he thought he couldn’t do,” Russo said.

As the team captain, Metzner has led the Lions to their most succesful season in his tenure on the team. They team holds eight victories and nine losses.

“We are in fourth place right now and if we [continue to] win, it would be our best in the four years that I have been on the team,” Metzner said.

“While winning is important, Ben plays because of what the sport means to him, not because of set priorities,” Scott Metzner said.

Meanwhile, as he prepared for the college process, Ben knew that he aspired to play after high school and was recruited to some Division Three schools.

“I seriously considered a bunch of them, but my goal was always to play Division One baseball,” he said.

In one field, he had a significant upper hand over other potential recruits: academics.

“It opens a lot of doors when [colleges] see that you go to Horace Mann,” Metzner said. “They look at you in a way that they wouldn’t if I hadn’t spent so much time on academics.”

Metzner got into Yale University through the normal admissions process and plans to walk on to the team, he said. He has been in contact with the coach and must be physically fit enough come tryouts to make the team, so he will spend the summer training to get fully in shape.

“A dream of mine is to be a general manager of a baseball team, which is something that factored into my recruiting decision,” Metzner said.

As he prepares to play his closing games for the school, Metzner will most of all leave behind his team-first mentality, Webb said. “He’s always been a guy that has cared more about the team and winning more than his personal success, which will help the team for years to come.”