The way Malachi Emond dances in the dugout and cheers on his teammates doesn’t really show the sleepless nights and tears that have brought him to where he is today. His job is tough, but that’s how he likes it.
“When the game is on the line, I’m definitely one of the guys who want to have the ball in their hand. That’s just who I’ve been all my life,” the University of New Mexico senior said. “I don’t like leaving it up to other people. That’s why when it’s the ninth inning and we are up, I want the ball no matter what.”
He started playing t-ball around the age of five. His dad, who spent some time in the pros, encouraged him to go into pitching. This was a good way for them to spend more time together.
Emond is a closer, which means he comes late into the game when his team is winning and is tasked to get the final outs. He has been doing this for a while, but he admits it’s not always easy to brush things off.
A harsh reminder of this was during the Lobos’s 2019 season opener, when they had a chance to get a victory against the then-No.8 Oregon State. UNM was leading 5-3 at the top of the ninth but the Beavers managed three runs during the bottom of the inning.
“I’m not going to lie to you, the Oregon State outing definitely kept me up for a few nights just thinking about every little thing I could’ve done differently to help my team win,” Emond said.
Through the years, he has learned that it’s all about having short-term memory so he doesn’t let what happens in one game affect him during the next.
UNM is the third school Emond has attended since he began his college career. While his plan has always been to go pro, the lack of Division I offers when he was finishing high school made him question everything and he was thinking there was no point in continuing playing.
To tell this part of his story, Emond pulled out a baseball card from his wallet. Former professional baseball player Don Gordon was a guest speaker at a Christian summer camp Emond attended toward the end of his high school career. Gordon and Emond had a one-on-one conversation that started around 10pm and didn’t end until 1am.
“We were just talking about life.” Emond said. “I guarantee I would not be here if I hadn’t had that conversation with him. I would’ve probably quit baseball after freshman year in college. I wouldn’t have cared about it and probably be working a 9-to-5 without the ability to have a college degree and the ability to play baseball.”
Emond spent his freshman year at Albertus Magnus College with eight games, seven of those as a starter. The following year he attended Western Oklahoma State College where he made 19 appearances with a 5.88 earned run average in 33.2 innings. He finally made the jump to Divison I when he joined the Lobos for the 2018 season.
The pitcher graduated from UNM this spring with a total of 52 games under his belt, 78.1 innings pitched and a 3.10 ERA.
BALLGAME! Emond gets swing and miss to nail down his 10th save of the season! He is now tied for the second-most saves in a season and moves into 5th all-time at UNM! #GoLobos pic.twitter.com/Z8v5RqZMjk
— UNM Baseball (@UNMLoboBaseball) May 18, 2019
Emond is still pursuing his dream to play professional baseball. While opportunities are limited, he has learned that perseverance is the key to success.
Last year, he entered the MLB Draft but things didn’t work out like he wanted. This was tough, yet his dad helped him see the situation in a different light and turned it into a learning experience. Whenever that next step comes, Emond will be ready.
“After I didn’t get drafted last year, I literally laid in bed for three days and cried,” Emond recounted. “My dad was like, ‘nothing is ever going to be easy for you. God put you in this path because he knows that you can handle it. If you got drafted after your junior year, it would’ve been too easy.'”
Major: Liberal arts with specialization in psychology and communications.
Music: Jon Bellion. Emond will listen to his songs no matter what mood he is in. Each song brings him back to a different memory.
Tattoos: On his right wrist he has written “we all go.” This is in reference to Kanye West’s Saint Pablo lyrics, “next time I’m on stage, we all go.” Emond has this matching tattoo with a couple of friends.
“We took that as no matter what, we are always going to be friends,” he said. “No matter what anybody is going through, we are all going through it. We are always going to be there for each other.”
Another tattoo is his parents’ birthdays on his arm.
Dream job, other than baseball: “Have you ever seen the show River Monsters? That would be one of my dream jobs. Me and my dad go out and just fish all day.”
Movies: Favorite saga is Saw, but he also really likes animated films. He knows every line of Meet the Robinsons and Moana.
Scars: Emond has a scar on his face but said not a lot of people ask him about it because they think it’s impolite. He has had it since he was 11 years old, when he got bitten by a Rottweiler.
He has another scar on the bottom of his foot. Emond got it by putting his foot through glass during summer camp trying to open a window.
“The camp was in the middle of nowhere so it was an hour and a half drive to the nearest hospital. The worst night of my life.”
Special talents: Braid hair, can fit six baseballs in one hand, learned to juggle three balls in about 30 seconds because he was bored.