Mike Montei’s path to the Charleston Baseball Hall of Fame was a bit untraditional.
Montei, a Summerville resident and East Coast Fleet and Business Lending Relationship Manager for Wells Fargo, is one of three new inductees who will be honored by Hall officials prior to the RiverDogs’ Aug. 3 home game. Kiki Cuyler and Coach Tony Cadden are the other two members of the 2019 induction class.
“This was completely unexpected,” Montei said. “I was humbled to just be nominated and can’t believe I was selected over some of this year’s other nominees. I mean Bo Parks for example was pretty lights out when he played for Summerville. Prior inductees include professional athletes and Kiki Cuyler is a guy who played in the World Series and made it into Cooperstown so receiving this honor is very special for me.”
Parks was also one of six finalists considered for induction this summer.
While many who have been inducted into hall were recruited out of high school for their baseball skills that wasn’t the case for Montei. His father was in the military so during his finals years of high school he lived in Korea and his school’s baseball program didn’t draw the interest or resources programs stateside typically did.
“I like to say that I played baseball in high school, but I never played high school baseball,” Montei said. “We didn’t have a traditional team with a fulltime coach and our own facility. We had a soccer field that they turned into a baseball field. About the only time we would get to play was on the weekends.”
When they did play, it was usually against college teams willing to work them into their schedule.
“Some of those teams came in looking like the pros with their Mizuno uniforms and there we were this rag-tag bunch,” Montei said. “There was a Sand Lot feel to it.”
As high school graduation neared, Montei sent film of himself pitching to college teams in the United States but coaches didn’t know much about his background and weren’t willing to take a chance on him. Since none did, he applied to military schools and was accepted at The Citadel.
After he arrived on campus, coach Chalmers Port took a look at some of his film and invited him to join The Citadel Baseball team as a walk-on.
“When I got there I was a little naive about baseball,” he said. “It was just something I did for fun. The coaching I had at The Citadel taught me so much and now I’m so glad I had the opportunity to play college baseball.”
One of his favorite stories to tell is abount an outing he had on the hill as a freshman. The other team managed multiple hits off him so Port decided to pull him, which surprised Montei because in his high school experience the only reason to relieve a pitcher would be if they were fatigued or their arm was sore.
“I said ‘but coach, I’m good; I’m not even tired,’” Montei recalled. “He said, ‘yeah, but our outfielders are tired.’”
Montei learned, developed and went on to play four years for the Bulldogs. By the time his college baseball career was done, he had become one of the most successful pitchers in The Citadel history. Some of his many accomplishments are featured in the biographies for this year’s inductees at the bottom of this article.
After college, Montei put his degree in Business to use, launching a successful career in the banking industry. He has also served as a volunteer coach for several youth sports programs. He has coached for the Parks Field Dixie Youth Baseball and Summerville Shockwave Baseball programs as well as for the South Carolina Hurricanes Softball program and the Upward Bound Basketball program.
Montei has also been active with the Dorchester County Parks and Recreation Commission, Dorchester County Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission and Dorchester Habitat for Humanity. He is the current chairman of the Friends of Dorchester County Parks nonprofit organization.
The Charleston Baseball Hall of Fame is coordinated and operated by the Charleston RiverDogs. All three of the 2019 inductees will have their names inscribed on the Hall of Fame list located on the main concourse of Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park.
Montei will become the second member of his family to receive commemorative recognition at the park. A picture of his daughter, Sarah, was added to the park’s Lowcountry Player of the Year Wall in 2012.
Michael R. “Mike” Montei
— A walk-on at The Citadel who became a two-time member of the All-Southern Conference baseball team and a four-year letterman …when he graduated in 1987 his 30 wins made him the all-time winningest pitcher in the modern era at The Citadel and in military college history… held school records for most innings pitched in a season (99.1 in ‘87), career (315), and most appearances (64) …regarded as a control pitcher, as a starter and reliever he averaged just 1.3 walks per 9 innings and was enshrined in The Citadel Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.
— A member of the Baseball Hall of Fame (1968) who played for the minor league Charleston Pals in 1922; was an outfielder for 18 seasons (1921-38) with the Pirates, Cubs, Reds and Brooklyn Dodgers; in ‘25 led the NL in triples (26), and runs (144), led the Pirates to the World Series; the next year he led the NL in runs (113) and stolen bases (35); after being traded, he continued to be a star for the Cubs over the next 7½ seasons and helped them to the ‘29 and ‘33 World Series; named a starting outfielder on the NL’s All-Star team.
— Played at Country Day High School, where he won three state championships, and North Greenville College. Also coached recreation baseball on James Island, which included coaching a team in the South Carolina Collegiate Summer League. Coached American Legion Post 147 baseball team for 20 years, raising over $100,000 during his tenure to fund the program. He led Post 147 teams to several league titles and helped 100-plus players move on to play collegiately. He was also an associate scout for the Texas Rangers and is currently an associate Scout for the New York Mets.