Behind the Seams: Natalie Szczur

Matt and Natalie Szczur during the Cubs’ World Series Champion parade in 2016.

Natalie Szczur is the wife of Philadelphia Phillies’ outfield Matt Szczur.

Five fun facts about Natalie:

  • I am a beach girl at heart. I grew up in North Wildwood, New Jersey. It’s a small island on the southern tip of NJ, with white beaches and an amusement boardwalk. During the summer, hundreds of thousands of people flock to the island to vacation, but it’s a total ghost town in the winter. Only a couple of restaurants stay open for the locals.
  • I have an MA in journalism from the New York Institute of Technology in NYC. I interned at VH1 while living in the city. I lived there for a little over a year with my two friends from college. Matt also came to stay with me for a month before leaving for Arizona for the fall league. He would take the subway every night from my apartment on the upper east side to my school in midtown and pick me up from class.
  • Although my life revolves around baseball, I actually grew up playing soccer. I was on various travel teams as well as school and rec teams. I played until college. My weekends as a child were spent traveling up and down the east coast going to games and tournaments. Thanks, Mom and Dad! I was pretty good, too. I played center midfield.
  • I’m a total theater nerd. Growing up, my Mommom would take my brothers, cousins and I to New York once a year to see a Broadway show. At five years old, my favorite soundtrack to listen to was Phantom of the Opera. I’ve seen Wicked and Jersey Boys six times each. I love Broadway so much that Matt took me to see Chicago and proposed on stage before the show. We met the cast and toured backstage. It was a dream come true.
  • I love to cook and bake, which is funny, because the only thing I was capable of cooking during college was toast. I love trying new dinner recipes and desserts. It’s very relaxing for me, especially with a glass of red wine in hand.
Matt proposing to Natalie onstage.

How did you and Matt meet?

Matt and I met when we were freshmen in high school. We went to rival high schools, but I went to his school’s homecoming dance with a mutual friend. He introduced me to Matt in the cafeteria on a dance break. We didn’t start dating until college, though. Fun fact: our parents actually grew up together.

How do you balance your life with Matt’s practice/game schedule?

When Matt and I married five years ago, we both decided I would travel full time with him. It was a decision that was hard to make at the time, but we felt it was the best path for us as newlyweds who were starting a life together. The first two years were extremely hard on me, for I was trying to find my footing in the baseball world while not working full time. Now I appreciate the freedom it allows me.

During the season, our lives revolve around Matt’s baseball schedule. He lives at the field from noon until midnight some nights. Days give me a lot of free time to do whatever I want. Over the years, I formed a little routine for myself. Working out, cooking, reading, writing, chatting with family and friends and hanging out with other baseball wives were all parts of how I’d spend my day. It might look a little different this season with a new baby!

During the off-season, it’s all about family. We spend a lot of time together with our families to make up for time lost during baseball season.

Was baseball part of your life before you met Matt?

No, I was not a baseball fan. Never watched it. I did play softball in middle school, but that was about it.

What is your guys’ game day routine/schedule?

On a typical day, Matt leaves for the field around 12-1 PM. He eats lunch, loosens up, does his early work, hits. Then it’s fielding, batting practice, eating something light and warming up before the game.

What is your favorite baseball memory (with or without Matt)?

If I had to choose one defining moment, it would be touring Chicago on top of a double-decker bus during the World Series Parade. Seeing millions of people coming together to line every street of Chicago, cheer and celebrate took my breath away. It was such a surreal moment for both of us.

As far as favorite memories, really just hanging out with all the wives I’ve met along the way, on every team Matt has played for, has been such a blessing. The lifestyle is hard, and it’s nice to find girls who know exactly how you feel. Forming those friendships are my favorite part of baseball because we’ll be friends forever, even though we’re spread out across the entire country.

Matt and Natalie on the Cubs’ World Champion parade route in 2016.

You were at the 2016 World Series, even though Matt didn’t play. What was that experience like?

Truly special. The buzz around Chicago was insane. We lived a couple blocks from Wrigley and walked to the ballpark for every game. Just walking around the city, seeing how much people were excited, was special. There’s nothing like Cub fans. They are so loyal and passionate for their Cubbies. It meant a lot just to be a part of it all. The games in Cleveland were fun and anxious, but there was nothing like a playoff game at Wrigley Field and the energy of that crowd.

Does having a baby at home affect your and Matt’s daily life?

Yes! It definitely affects us in the sleep department. Having a newborn is tough when it comes to that, although he sleeps way better now that he’s almost four months old. Other than that, our daily lives are the same. Except now we have a new little buddy to love on and take on all our crazy adventures. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Natalie and baby Matthew visiting Matt at the field.

What’s been your favorite ballpark to visit?

I don’t know if it counts as a visit, but Wrigley Field will always be my favorite. The history, the ivy, the fans. The way that it has a backyard ballpark feel to it. Can’t beat it.

The Cubs celebrating on the mound after clinching the NL Central.

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I wanted to thank Natalie for doing this interview. It was great to talk with her and learn about life as a baseball wife and mom.

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