‘He’s what you want in a player’: What drives BYU’s Mitch McIntyre
McIntyre is No. 1 all-time at BYU in being hit by pitch (33); he’s No. 4 in walks (132); No. 13 in doubles (51); No. 19 in triples (10); No. 7 in games played (211); and No. 10 in at-bats (735)
Senior outfielder Mitch McIntyre has quietly made his mark on the BYU baseball record book.
The Stansbury Park native, who grew up a diehard Utes fan and was originally recruited to be a pitcher, has climbed into the top 20, and top 10, in numerous categories in the Cougars baseball annals — a testament to his consistency, talent and resilience.
McIntyre is No. 1 all-time at BYU in being hit by pitch (33); he’s No. 4 in walks (132); No. 13 in doubles (51); No. 19 in triples (10); No. 7 in games played (211); and No. 10 in at-bats (735).
Until he was informed of his place in BYU history, McIntyre, who will be honored Saturday on Senior Day, had no idea.
What do those numbers say about his legacy?
“It’s super cool to say that, with how many baseball players that are really good that have come through this program and to say that I’m on a list that’s for the best of them, it’s kind of crazy to think,” he said. “I think I was the first one to get a D-I baseball scholarship in Tooele County in a long time. It’s such a big privilege, especially with everybody that I’ve played with. I’m just happy to keep playing baseball.”
In 2022, he’s hitting .278 and leads the team in on-base percentage (.417). Heading into this week’s three-game series with LMU, he led the Cougars in doubles (13), triples (3), walks (33) and stolen bases (9). During his BYU career, he’s pitched as well.
To what does McIntyre attribute his longevity and success?
“I’m definitely not a power hitter or a big dude. But I’d say working on the small things and making them important in my game has been huge. Another thing is just knowing what my skill set is,” said the 6-foot, 185-pounder. “I know sometimes in the past when I’ve struggled, it’s because I wanted to be somebody I guess I wasn’t.
“Once I found who I am through this game, it helped me reach success better. Honestly, for me getting on base whenever I can to help my team is what I want to do. If they hit it in the air in the outfield, then catch every ball I can and try to simplify things.”
In Tuesday’s loss to Utah, McIntyre made not one, but two amazing diving catches in center field, robbing the Utes of hits.
Interim head coach Trent Pratt appreciates what McIntyre brings to the program.
“He does things right. Mitch goes out and plays hard every day. That’s the biggest thing about Mitch — you know what you’re going to get every day. He’s a consistent player,” he said. “He puts together good at-bats, he plays good defense and he’s the same all the time. You don’t see him get too up or too down. That helps lead our team. He leads by example.
“He’s not a guy that says a whole lot but, man, he goes out and plays the right way and sets a tone and sets an example for the rest of our team. He’s just the best teammate and the best kid. He comes out every day. He’s a joy to coach. He listens. He works hard. He’s what you want in a player.”
As McIntyre quietly secures his spot in the record books, he draws upon, and is driven by, the inspiration and strength of his family.
Battles with cancer
During McIntyre’s sophomore year of high school at Stansbury High, his father, Bob, went to a doctor for a checkup and was diagnosed with cancer.
“He had stage 4 leukemia,” McIntyre said. “His blood was 100% cancerous.”
It was stunning, life-changing news for the family.
“He’s the type of guy that even if he’s hurting, he wouldn’t tell you. He just keeps a smile on his face. He is such a fighter,” McIntyre said of his dad. “There were a lot of times where he was in the hospital for weeks or months at a time.”
A general contractor, Bob had to step away from his work during treatments. Mitch and his twin brother, Matt, sometimes would skip school to snowplow a strip mall in Tooele that their dad took care of.
“We tried to run his business when he couldn’t do it,” McIntyre said.
Compounding the situation, McIntyre’s grandfather — his mother’s father — died of cancer about a year before his dad’s diagnosis.
“It was hard not to think, ‘Wow, this is going to happen again. My grandpa passed away and my dad’s going to pass away,’” McIntyre said.
His grandfather, Roy Whitehouse, was a tough, kindhearted man, and Mitch and his brother wanted to be like him.
“We hung out with him every day in the summer,” McIntyre recalled. “He was a cowboy and we wanted to be cowboys, too.”
Whitehouse played football and baseball at Southern Utah and graduated from Utah State before earning a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Utah.
Later, Whitehouse taught and coached various sports at Tooele High. In 1972, he became a probation officer for the Juvenile Court system and then served as the trial court executive for Utah’s 3rd District Juvenile Court.
“My grandpa was such an influence on us playing sports,” McIntyre said. “Every time I scored a touchdown, he would give me a dollar. My twin brother was a lineman. Anytime the team scored, he’d give him a dollar. My brother had more dollars than I did. He was a huge influence on my life.”
During his baseball career, McIntyre has written the initials “R.W.” on his glove in tribute to his grandfather. This season, McIntyre had “R.W.” embroidered on his glove, so that he can honor his grandfather’s memory whenever he takes the field.
Fortunately, Bob is in remission. “He’s actually doing really good,” McIntyre said. “He’s had a journey.”
“I think that was the biggest learning experience that I’ve had. Trying to stay in the moment. It’s impacted me playing baseball.” — Mitch McIntyre
During the time his dad was battling cancer, McIntyre was being recruited by multiple schools, including Pac-12 power Oregon State. He decided he wanted to stay in the state of Utah to be close to his dad and “be there for my family,” he said. “It’s been a huge blessing to be able to support him. It’s crazy how it turned out.”
Certainly, watching his grandfather succumb to cancer, and watching his dad fight the disease, has shaped McIntyre.
“I think that was the biggest learning experience that I’ve had. Trying to stay in the moment,” he said. “It’s impacted me playing baseball. Luckily for me, that was my escape from all of it, playing baseball and trying to forget about everything.”
McIntyre has a fraternal twin brother, Matt, who attends Dixie State College.
Having a twin has also made a profound impact on him. “He has been my best friend my whole life,” he said. “In high school, we were inseparable.”
No wonder people knew Mitch and Matt by the nickname “M&M.”
They had the same friends and they did everything together. When they were in elementary school, Matt excelled in English while Mitch excelled in math.
“We would do each other’s homework. The teacher found out and we got in trouble,” McIntyre said, laughing. “From then on, we wanted to be put in the same class. Our mom wouldn’t let us. It was funny. We always tried to help each other.”
On the Stansbury High baseball team, Mitch was the pitcher and Matt was the catcher. They also played football together.
“Probably the hardest year I ever had was my freshman year (of college) when we had to go apart from each other and figure out our own selves,” McIntyre said. “I’m grateful for that. But our relationship has never fizzled out. We talk all of the time. We’re always there for each other.
“The coolest thing in the world is having a twin. It’s pretty much having a best friend no matter what. It’s been so fun being twins. I don’t understand how you don’t be best friends with your twin. You’re almost the same person.”
The McIntyre twins have talked about going into business together at some point. McIntyre recently graduated from BYU with a degree in construction management.
“We’ve always worked with my dad growing up, building houses. Me, my older brother and my twin brother have talked about taking over his business,” McIntyre said. “I’m hoping to help him because he needs to retire. He’s doing more than he needs to. For right now, I’ll figure it out. That’s kind of our plan — doing something together and working together.”
Bob and Jill McIntyre’s oldest child is named Drew, and he was followed by a daughter, Abby. The McIntyres had another son, Parker, who was born in 1996. Parker died when he was one month old due to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Mitch and Matt were born after Parker.
In part to deal with their grief, the McIntyre family built a baseball park in Parker’s honor, appropriately named Parker’s Park in Tooele. The McIntyres donated the park to the city.
“We all have our handprints on the concrete. We have bricks with our names on them,” McIntyre said. “There’s a picture of my grandpa there — he was a big help in building the park with my dad. It’s cool to have those things to go see and go play in. We always spent a ton of time at that baseball park growing up. It’s one of my coolest memories growing up as a kid, playing on that field.”
Mitch and Matt played city league games at that park named for their older brother, with their dad coaching them.
“They held a regional for the Little League World Series there,” McIntyre said.
The McIntyres have experienced their share of challenges. Mitch said that all families have trials.
“Everybody has their things they’ve gone through. Our family has always done a really good job of keeping the memory and moving forward,” he said. “Our family has had a lot of experiences that made us super close. I’m grateful for how close we are. There’s nothing like family.”
The McIntyres have a tradition to visit Parker’s Park every Memorial Day.
“Our family has a big party up there and we play a slow-pitch game,” he said. “It’s a 200-foot fence. We have to hit it the other way so we don’t hit the houses.”
Pratt was the one that recruited Mitch to BYU. Pratt, who became the interim head coach when Mike Littlewood resigned last month, had a longstanding connection with the McIntyre family.
“Mitch’s older brother Drew and my younger brother were best friends in Tooele. My parents know his mom and dad,” he said. “I’ve grown up around his family and his grandparents. We see them at all the sporting events. We’ve known them for a long time.”
Pratt starred at Tooele High and knew about McIntyre. But then Pratt went off to play in college and in the pros.
“I wasn’t in my hometown while he was growing up. But talking to my parents and my brother, they said what a good player he was,” Pratt said. “I always heard good things about him but I didn’t know him as well as his older brother and his parents.”
Choosing BYU over Utah: ‘I would have been freaking out’
When McIntyre was a youngster, he cheered for the University of Utah. The idea of attending BYU wasn’t even a consideration.
The Cougars offered him a scholarship as a pitcher when he was a sophomore in high school.
“When BYU was talking to me, I was like, ‘I don’t really care about them.’ BYU offered me and then not even a week later, I got a call from Utah while I was in one of my high school classes,” McIntyre remembered. “They said, ‘We’ve never seen you play but we want to offer you.’ I think it was just because BYU offered me, honestly. I went to a bunch of Utah camps and I never went to BYU camps.”
McIntyre decided to go on a recruiting trip to BYU and it made an impression on him.
“It was way different from what I expected. The environment, the facility, and once I got to meet the guys on the team, they cared more for each other and less about themselves,” he said. “They were great guys. Then I got really interested in BYU.”
At one point during the recruiting process, McIntyre was attending a basketball game at Utah. And that’s where he committed to the Cougars.
“I’m not sure what happened. I think something made me mad,” he recalled. “I called Trent up and I said, ‘I want to commit to BYU.’ I felt like, I know I want to go to BYU now. I literally went into the bathroom at a University of Utah basketball game, went into a stall and called Trent. It was spur of the moment.”
McIntyre’s mom, Jill, had played softball at BYU, so she was thrilled.
“She was the one chirping in my ear, ‘Maybe go to BYU. You’ll like it,’” McIntyre said. “She was really happy when I decided to go to BYU.”
By the time he was a senior, McIntyre had become a better hitter than a pitcher.
“I was showing myself more as a hitter and other colleges were interested in my hitting,” he said. “I knew that I was more of a hitter and wanted to do that more. I called Trent and said, ‘Is there an opportunity to play a position?’ He said, ‘We’ll try it out.’ My freshman year, I didn’t pitch at all. I played the outfield and hit. It was funny that it worked out like that.”
During his BYU career, McIntyre has made the switch from the outfield to pitcher in certain situations. He’s pitched 24.2 innings, having given up 16 hits, with 10 walks and 16 strikeouts and he’s recorded an ERA of 1.82.
Perhaps nobody was more surprised about his decision to attend BYU than he was.
“If I would have told myself when I was 10 years old that I would play at BYU,” he said, “I would have been freaking out.”
‘It worked out for the better’
For McIntyre, as his college career is winding down, he isn’t spending too much time thinking about the future.
“I’m fortunate and lucky enough to keep playing baseball with BYU and my teammates,” he said. “Hopefully I can go far and do it as long as I can. It’s hard not to think that this is my last few weeks at BYU. It hasn’t hit me at all yet.
“I’m just enjoying the now and enjoying playing with my team. A lot of those emotions will roll in once the season is over. I’m just trying to stay in the moment and hoping it goes as long as it can.”
There were times during his BYU career that he had hoped he would be drafted, but it didn’t happen.
But he’s come to terms with that.
“It worked out for the better because I feel like there’s nothing like college baseball with your friends. I’m super grateful for that. But if I get an opportunity to play professionally, I would love it,” McIntyre said. “But I’m also ready to try something new, too. I’ve been playing baseball my whole life. Never really got to experience anything else.
“I haven’t taken a vacation without baseball for as long as I can remember. I love the game of baseball and I would love to play as long as I can. But I also want to see what happens next.”
For now, McIntyre is trying to stretch out his BYU baseball career as long as he can. He continues to quietly make his mark on the program, and on the record books — while drawing upon, and being driven by, the inspiration and strength of his family.