Geislingers help guide Watkins and each other

By Patrick Johnson

Matt, Nolan and Carson Geislinger never really had a choice. 

They were all going to be Watkins Clippers — like it or not. 

“They were going to be Clippers from the time they were born, yes,” Bruce Geislinger joked. 

Bruce was a key player for a Watkins Clippers team that qualified for the Minnesota Baseball Association state tournament in 12 of 15 years between 1989 and 2003 — winning the Class C state title in 2001. Bruce won four games on the mound in that tournament and was named MVP.

Now all key players in their own right, Matt and Nolan are Bruce’s sons and Carson is his nephew. They all started their tenure with the Clippers as bat boys. However, the trio of Geislingers currently leads the team on the field as the Clippers embark on what they hope to be a long and prosperous playoff run, perhaps culminating in another state championship. 

The Watkins Clippers play in the Central Valley North League under the 14-team Region 11 umbrella. A total of 215 teams and 16 different regions make up Class C.  

Matt, 30, started playing for the Clippers when he was 14 years old. Nolan, 18 and a senior at Eden Valley-Watkins, also began playing for the Clippers when he was 15. Carson, 21, started with the club when he was 16. 

If you look in the outfield during Clippers games you’ll likely see Bruce pacing nervously on the other side of the fence as he watches the next generation of Geislingers take the field.  

“It’s tough,” Bruce said. “Watching is way harder than playing. When you’re out there playing you’re out there competing and not thinking about it as much.  But, I do enjoy the heck out of it. It’s awesome.”

Like his dad, Matt Geislinger knows a little something about state championships. Matt, who now manages Watkins and is the Clippers’ ace, helped lead Eden Valley-Watkins to back-to-back Class A state titles in high school back in 2010 and 2011 — the first state titles for the Eagles in baseball. Matt Geislinger and the Eagles combined for a 50-2 overall record in those two seasons, including a perfect 27-0 record in 2010. Bruce Geislinger also had a shot at a high school state title in 1985, but the Eagles fell 8-1 to Windom in the state championship that year.

In his 16th season with Watkins, Matt is still one of the state’s best pitchers. He won the Mike Davison Award for Most Outstanding Pitcher in the 2020 Class C state amateur baseball tournament as the Clippers allowed only one run over three games, but eventually lost 1-0 in 13 innings to Bird Island to be eliminated. 

After recovering from a shoulder injury that ended his season last year, Matt is currently 8-0 with a microscopic 0.159 ERA in eight starts, with 72 strikeouts and six walks. He’s allowed just one earned run in 56 2/3 innings pitched.

“Matt has spoiled his dad, tremendously,” Bruce Geislinger said. “It’s so fun to watch him. He works that strike zone and just goes after people. He doesn’t back down to anybody. He has all the tangibles as a pitcher and he is so polished.”

Matt’s arsenal includes a fastball, a changeup and a slider. He throws left-handed, 

though he eats and writes with his right hand. 

He says he’s been “taking it easy this year.”

“I feel smarter than I was when I was younger, I’m just not throwing as hard,” he said. “I feel like I’m locating better and throwing off-speed stuff when I need to compared to just trying to throw it by somebody.” 

Matt was the Clippers’ batboy the year Bruce Geislinger and Watkins won the Class C state championship, in 2001. 

“I remember catching my dad when I was just a bat boy, because there was nobody else to catch,” Matt said. “I was so scared in that bullpen. I was so nervous the entire time. It seemed like he didn’t care at all. He just had to get loosened up and ready to go.” 

Like his older brother, Nolan Geislinger has been around the Clippers dugout since he was a toddler. He is currently the Clippers’ starting shortstop and leadoff hitter. He has been doing so since he joined the team as a ninth-grader. On the year, Nolan is batting .262 with 4 RBIs and 10 runs scored. 

“Nolan’s potential is very, very high,” Bruce Geislinger said. “He has tremendous upside. He has such a great arm at short and can really move his feet. At bat, I haven’t seen a kid as fast as him run around the bases before. He’s electric.” 

Matt said he and Nolan have always been close. Nolan was the best man in Matt’s wedding last year.

“He’s looked up to me and I just hoped to do the best for him every single time,” Matt said. 

Nolan took over the starting shortstop job in 2020.

“Nolan played one game and played really good,” Matt said. “I had to make the decision. I tried Nolan in a big region game right out off the bat. That’s where it all started. He basically said it’s my job and I’m going to take care of this.”

Carson Geislinger plays third, outfield and pitches. He’s batting a team-high .436 with 17 hits — including seven extra-base hits — and 16 RBI. On the mound, he’s 3-0 in three starts with a 3.51 ERA, 25 strikeouts and a pair of saves in 25.2 Innings pitched.

“He is a very good ballplayer for us,” Matt Geislinger said. “He’ll do anything to make the team better. He’s been hitting very well this year and his defense has been awesome. He’s pitching well too. He’s a big kid. Probably 6-foot 2-inch. He has a lot of power and definitely uses it.”

Infielder/outfielder Kevin Kramer has a team-high 26 hits in 15 games played for the Clippers, including leading the team with two home runs and a team-high 19 runs, while batting .433.

Third baseman and catcher Brenden Ashton leads the Clippers with 17 RBI on the year, along with 12 runs scored. Outfielder Dan Berg is also batting .404 in 12 games played.

Matt said this year’s team has a close bond. Only one player on the Clippers roster isn’t from Eden Valley-Watkins — Cater Block. 

“He’s actually dating my sister,” Matt said. “He’s probably going to marry her, so he’s pretty much family.”

Matt likes his Watkins’ club’s chances in the postseason.  

“There’s a large number of teams that are very good baseball teams,” he said. “But, I consider us one of them. It’s kind of about who is playing the best at the right time and how far your pitching can get you.”

Bruce Geislinger said he believes this year’s Clippers squad is “as good as any team out there.”

“I’ll take Watkins against anybody with Matt on the mound,” Bruce said. “He’s as good as anybody. No doubt about it, he’s proven it.”

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