Without a doubt, Branford’s Mike Olt has had an interesting career so far in baseball. From Little League teams to four outstanding years at Branford High School followed by three seasons at Division I UConn and being drafted as the 49th pick in the Major League Draft in 2010 by the Texas Rangers points to that being very true.
Mike was a four-year letter winner at Branford. He was an All SCC and All State player for three years and led the Hornets to the 2006 Class L State Championship under coach George Dummar. He holds the school’s hit record with 115 and the career batting average of .475., also led his American Legion team to both State and Regional Championships in 2005 and 2007 and was also the tournament’s MVP winner both years. Here Dummar thanks Mike on Senior Day.
This season Olt, now 29, signed with the Red Sox and was assigned to the AA Portland (Maine) Seadogs in the Eastern League. He recently played in a four-game series at the Hartford Yard Goats new park.
Dunkin Donuts Park, the new home of the Hartford Yard Goats, seats over 6,200.
Prior to the start of a game Mike met with his dad George and several friends including Recreation Director Alex Palluzzi and several of his former coaches and teammates at UConn.
He also brought over Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes, a former teammate at UConn, to say hello. Barnes was rehabbing in Portland for a sore arm.
Barnes of the Red Sox (pictured) pitched for one inning.
In the game the Eagle covered, the Yard Goats defeated the Sea Dogs 8-5. Olt was one for three hitting a two-run home run in the sixth inning. He had three RBIs in the game. Here Coach Mickey Jianz congratulates Mike as he heads for home.
To the delight of his hometown friends, Mike unloads his 15th home run of the season.
Here he rounds first on his way around the bases.
Here Mike walks to the dugout with teammate Josh Ockimey who also scored.
The crowd was large.
For the season Olt played 113 games at either first or third for the Seadogs. He had 96 hits, including 16 home runs, and finished with a .245 average. In his seven-year minor league career, he played in 599 games and had 551 hits, including 104 homeruns. His career batting average is .259.
Olt’s team didn’t make the playoffs this year as their season came to a close last week. Their final record was 65-74 and a fourth place finish in the Eastern Division of the Eastern League.
He’s back home in Branford and was a pallbearer at his grandfather Jim Ryan’s funeral this past Friday. Ryan passed away last week unexpectedly. He was elected into the Branford Sports Hall of Fame in 2014. Here he is pictured in 2010 with his grandparents Jim and Rosalie Ryan. Jim, a member of the police commission, died on Aug. 31.
Back at Branford High and UConn
Olt’s success with the Hornets led to a scholarship to UConn where he played for coach Tom Penders from 2008 to 2010. During his three-year tenure, Mike hit for an average of .312, had 198 hits including 44 homeruns and knocked in 177 runs for the Huskies. In his junior year he helped lead UConn to a second place finish in the former Big East Conference and a trip to the NCAA Regionals. Here Mike stands with his parents Bev and George on Senior Day 2007 at Branford High.
His success at UConn resulted in his being drafted 49th in the Major League Draft in 2010 by the Texas Rangers. He played for a number of farm teams in the Texas organization during the following two years until he was called up by the parent club in August 2012. That year he celebrated being drafted by the Rangers at the Owenego are (L-R) Brad, father George, Mike, mother Beverly, Tyler and Chris Olt.
It was a memorable night in Branford as a large crowd of over 300 family and friends gathered at the Owenego to root for their hometown hero playing in his first Major League game on closed-circuit television against the Los Angeles Angels. The crowd erupted when Mike came to bat for the first time in the “big leagues” and ripped a single.
After the 2013 season, the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce Sports Council (GNHCC) held a breakfast at Bill Miller’s Castle on East Main Street to raise money for the “Going to Bat for Coach Dummar Foundation.” Coach Dummar was ill at the time with brain cancer. He passed away in September 2014. Mike is shown here with Victor Amatori (left) of the Rec Department, UConn coach Tom Penders, and emcee George Grande.
The Rangers ended up trading Olt to the Cubs in 2014 where he became their opening day third baseman for two years. Unfortunately he had a number of injuries during his early years. He was hit in the head with a pitch resulting in vision issues, broke his collarbone in a collision, and fractured his wrist, injuries hard to overcome.
In his seven-year career to date Olt has played in 135 Major League games and has spent the majority of his time in the minors at the AA and AAA levels. Shortly after being waived by the Cubs in 2015, he was picked up by the cross town White Sox where he finished the season.