He is young, humble, and most importantly, good. While the Jewish world was sparked by the Padres 7th pick in the draft Max Fried, it is Max Ungar who might be the most important Jewish pick in the entire draft. Ungar went in the 36th round (not quite the 7th pick) to his hometown Washington Nationals. But this kid is from an all Jewish high school, Charles E. Smith in Rockville Maryland. When asked how he wanted to be promoted, Ungar said to mention his coaches, family, and friends. So he can play ball and is a mensch. Below is the exciting story of Max Ungar, a kid with a bright future and someone The Great Rabbino is rooting for.
1) Tell TGR a little bit about yourself… Where did you grow up, family life, other interests besides baseball?
I grew up in Bethesda, Md with two sisters, one older (a professional ballerina) and one younger (an awesome soccer and guitar player). My family has always been the most important thing in my life and they have always supported me through my academics as well as athletics and I really want to thank them for everything they have done. Some of my other interests besides baseball include; writing a blog about dieting in college, doing "crossfit" style of working out, hiking, and being in nature.
2) When did you start playing baseball?
I've been playing baseball since I can remember so probably around three or four years old. I have a great picture of me in the backyard with a wiffle ball bat and ball on a tee. When I started playing, I was always at an age where I could either be the youngest on the team or I could be the oldest, and that translated over to school as well. I was one of the younger kids in my class and I usually ended up having to play on summer and fall teams where I was either the youngest or the oldest. This put me at somewhat of a disadvantage because when I was the oldest on the team, I wasn't playing the best competition that I could be playing, and I would go to showcases and the kids there would all be bigger and older than I am used to.
3) Congrats on being drafted by the Washington Nationals. When did you realize getting drafted was a possibility? What was that like?
I really never thought that I would get drafted. Being from such a small school that really hasn't produced the greatest athletes in its history, I was not really expecting this to happen. When I first got a call from Bobby Myrick, who scouted me, I felt like it was a possibility but I really did not think it would happen because, again of the small school. Getting that call was probably one of the coolest things that ever happened to me. My dad was actually the only one home and he picked up the phone and talked to him. When my dad told me the news, I was ecstatic. First off, it was really cool that my Dad told me because he has always been the one who goes out and tosses BP for me or throws with me. However, I still did not think it would happen, I knew then that it was a possibility and I kept it in the back of my mind since that happened, until I went to Israel.
4) What was draft day like and how did you find out?
Draft day was crazy. I had everyone in the neighborhood over and family over, all dressed up, and we had a huge feast and huddled around the T.V. waiting for my name to be called and then... No, just kidding not at all like that. I had actually kind of forgot that it was the last day of the draft and if it was going to happen, it would happen that day. I was more focused on my orientation at Denison. So, it was pretty normal, I went to the gym, packed and left for Granville, Oh. My friend Jordan Tuwiner had texted me a few days before saying that if I was going to get drafted that he would tell me first (Jordan runs a baseball recruiting website). So, I started driving to orientation with my mom (about a six hour drive) and my phone started to ring. I noticed that it was a (301) number so I thought I would pick it up (that was when I remembered that it was draft day). I picked it up and heard someone say "Hello this is the Washington Nationals, we just wanted to let you know that we will be drafting you in about 10 minutes so, you should turn on the broadcast on MLB.com and listen in, congratulations." When I heard that, I was at a loss for words, I think all I could come up with was "awesome, awesome, thank you." I started shaking a bit I think, and probably swerved a little bit on the road. I remember people passing me because I was all the way in the left lane and I started to slow down out of pure excitement. So, we frantically started calling everyone trying to tell them to tune in to the broadcast. Then, Jordan called and said they just drafted me. About a minute later we heard it over my mom’s iPhone on the car's stereo system. It was just a crazy moment. We pulled over and my phone, email, and Facebook just started to blow up. Every other second I was getting a phone call, text or Facebook notification. It was really awesome. All of my friends and family were really nice about congratulating and supporting me.
5) Were you excited it was the Nationals, your home team, who drafted you?
It is awesome that the Nationals, my hometown team, drafted me. I have been to a bunch of Nats games and know some people who have worked for the Nationals in the past. I even remember when the Nats came to town and it was a big thing to be a Nationals fan. Now, they are doing so well, that there are a lot of Nats fans out there and people are impressed when they hear the Washington Nationals. However, I am a Red Sox fan, first and foremost. A bunch of my family grew up in Boston and Red Sox nation has been instilled in me from the beginning by my uncle, aunt, cousins, grandmother, and mom.
6) What is next for you? Do you plan on going to the minors or college? If you go to college do you lose your draft status?
I will be attending Denison University in the fall and playing for the Big Red in the spring. While it is really cool to have been drafted, my teachers and counselors as well as Baseball factory (a recruiting organization) have all taught me that my college education is more important for my future. Unless the Nats offer me a lot of money, I do not plan on accepting. After that, I will go to Denison and play baseball for them while Nationals scouts and possibly other scouts follow me. After my junior year of college, I can be drafted again by any team.
7) What are your long term goals?
My long term goals are similar to most peoples’ long term goals. I want to be a family man first and foremost. If, to get there, the paths of life take me through professional baseball, then that would be really cool. If not, then that's okay also. I am interested in a number of things aside from baseball, and when it comes down to it, I have to make the best decisions for my family. One scenario that I especially want to avoid however, is getting drafted, signing, and then getting stuck in the minor leagues for a long time, where I can't really do much with my life except get better at baseball, where I have little money, and am away from home most of the year.
8) Which baseball player do you try to model your game after? Who is your favorite player?
I would say I try and model my game, and work ethic after Jason Varitek. I think Varitek is the epitome of a professional baseball player. He really knows the game, can predict situations, and is prepared for them. He was one of the hardest working guys in the game of baseball, even if he wasn't the most gifted, or talented athlete, he always used his intelligence and work ethic to make him an all-star and long tenured major leaguer.
9) If you had to start a baseball team which Jewish player would you start it with; Ryan Braun, Ian Kinsler, Kevin Youkilis, or Jason Marquis?
Jason Marquis. Pitching is the key to success. But, I think Braun is a really great player and is going to surpass Shawn Green as the modern day Hank Greenberg.
Good luck to Max in school (or scoring that huge lucrative deal). We will be following your story.
And Let Us Say...Amen.
- Jeremy Fine