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Family ties for Larks' Lang

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

Finding a host family for Brett Lang wasn't hard at all.

Lang, a catcher-first baseman in his first summer with the Hays Larks, is staying with part of his real family, aunt and uncle Joyce and Andy Mattison.

Staying with family was a big part of why Lang chose to play in Hays.

"I don't see this side of the family very often, and it's good to see my grandma and grandpa," Lang said. "I live with my aunt and uncle, it's good to see them every day."

Lang is the son of Larry Lang, who played baseball at Larks Park for Hays High School, Fort Hays State University and the Larks. Gary Lang, Larry's brother and Brett's uncle, also played for HHS and the Larks, and in college at the University of Kansas.

Brett Lang was a freshman who redshirted this spring for University of North Carolina-Charlotte. His family lives in Charlotte, N.C., where Brett Lang as a high school sophomore was the designated hitter on a state title team in 2009.

Larry Lang and his family make it back to Hays about once a year.

"It's always a pleasure coming back here, had a good time coming to Hays, good to see all the family," Brett Lang said.

This summer, he will see his aunt and uncle a lot, plus his grandparents.

His grandfather, Marvin "Spanky" Lang, played fastpitch softball back in the day.

The Mattisons started being a host family for the Larks in the mid-1990s, but hadn't done it the last few years. They jumped at the chance to host their nephew.

"Now, this has been fun," Joyce Mattison said. "Plus, we've gotten to know Brett again."

Andy Mattison said their three children liked having a Lark around the house when they were growing up.

"They enjoyed it so much," he said. "We always want to give back. We enjoy watching the kids. It's really a good role model for your kids."

One of Brett Lang's college teammates, pitcher Ryan Mas, also is staying with the Mattisons this summer.

"We've always been blessed to have good kids that stayed with us," Andy Mattison said. "We never had a problem."

This is the first game action since his senior year in high school for Brett Lang.

"I was definitely excited, getting ready for my first game," Brett Lang said of his Larks debut. "Kind of a little bit nervous at the same time.

"It was definitely fun, seeing as how I had to sit out the whole spring, just watching everybody play; this is my chance to play," he added. "I got a hit my first at-bat. Once you get that first hit behind you, my nerves went away."

Brett Lang is batting .350 after hitting a single and a double in Friday night's 5-4 win over El Dorado at Larks Park.

If he slumps, his dad is ready to give advice, even though they are hundreds of miles apart.

"I call my dad before and after every game," Brett Lang said.

"He listens on the radio, because most games have the podcast. He always gives me pointers."

Brett Lang said his dad told him he would have a good time playing for the Larks. Having his aunt and uncle and grandparents at home games makes it all the better, as does knowing his dad played so many games at Larks Park.

"I think it makes it special," Brett Lang said. "Second generation is always good.

"I think it's cool to play on the same field my dad did when he was in high school and college," he added. "I think it's pretty cool."