By Samantha HillNovember 18, 2019
"Horns up," said Mitchell Daly, a Bob Jones High School senior, as he publicly signed his letter of intent Nov. 13 to play collegiate baseball at the University of Texas.
Mitchell joined five other high school baseball players in committing to the sport at the next level. Like the others, his family joined in celebrating his accomplishments. Unlike the others, he is a part of an active duty Army family. His father, Lt. Gen. Ed Daly, is the deputy commander of U.S. Army Materiel Command and Redstone Arsenal's senior commander. His mother, Cathy Daly, is a former service member and Army Civilian, working as a contract specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
As a member of a military family, Mitchell has moved seven times in his 18 years. He said playing baseball helped him throughout his childhood.
"Everywhere you go, in all the different places that you live, everyone seems to have a different perspective on how to hit, how to throw, how to field, and it's just great that I've been able to experience that," Mitchell said. "It's really made me the player I am today, not only with the different players I've played with, but also the coaches."
Mitchell's baseball career began with T-ball when he was three. Since then, he's made a name for himself as a baseball player, playing shortstop for Bob Jones High School. Head Coach Jared Smith said Mitchell started 123 games over the last couple of years and has a .345 batting average. He is a two-time All-State and All-Region baseball player. According to Perfect Game, he is the number one shortstop in Alabama and in the top 200 in the country. His stats include: 116 hits, 32 doubles, five triples, 16 home runs, 89 runs batted in, 110 runs and 34 stolen bases.
Mitchell's name can be seen across the school's record books. He has the second all-time for the single season record in doubles, third in doubles and runs, fourth all-time RBIs, fourth all-time in home runs and fifth all-time in games played.
"He's an absolutely incredible defensive guy," Smith said. "He hits really well, too, but he's one of the best high school defenders I've ever seen."
Mitchell has been approached by almost a dozen major league baseball teams. After his senior year, he will join what Baseball America said is the number one recruiting class in the country. He told the University of Texas Athletics staff he picked the university because of the program's storied history, its 36 College World Series appearances, six national championships, the best facilities and the best coaching staff in the country.
Born in Fort Hood, Texas, Mitchell honed his baseball skills as he moved across the globe to places including Korea and Italy. He said baseball was his outlet for meeting new people.
"When you're new to a community because you're moving a lot and your family is military, you just need to find one thing that's relatable to make friends," he said. "For me, that happened to be baseball. Just getting to know a baseball team first, you find automatic friends and they take you in, and it's really appreciated."
Like other military families, the Daly family has overcome adversity. Having moved 18 times during Ed's Army career, Cathy had to help Mitchell and his siblings, Nicole and Connor, adapt with each move.
"I think for the service members, they don't see it as much, but the spouses have to deal with it," Cathy said. "All of your kids have different personalities. Some love the moves, they look forward to new places, meeting new people. Others don't. Not all children can adapt and it's hard for them, and I feel like the spouse is the one most of that falls on."
Cathy said despite the challenges, the family developed its own battle rhythm for how to adjust during the moves. Ed said his wife is the head of the household taking care of the family during his deployments.
"She's really taken a supporting role that I admire because she didn't have to do that," Ed said. "I think the end state, what has been able to happen because we've attacked it this way, is that we've been able to raise a family the way we wanted to."
They believe what has also helped is how the Army takes care of its people, from providing spouses more employment opportunities to providing programs for the physical and mental wellbeing of Soldiers and families.
"Every place you go, you have a supporting cast," he said. "There's an embracing community that will take you in. There are programs to support families - career counselors, child and youth services for family members, sports programs - a bunch of different programs on every installation. In that respect, I think it makes the transition easier."
For the last five years, the Daly family has lived in the Tennessee Valley. Mitchell has been able to stay at the same high school, a decision the family felt was a top priority. Although each place he's lived has a special place in his heart, Mitchell said this is his home.
"My teammates took me in when I first moved here; it's just been a really good experience," Mitchell said. "I can call a lot of those guys family."
Soon, it will be time for Mitchell to move again - this time, on his own. Although he felt nervous about it initially, he knows he is ready for what's next.
"I haven't moved in five years, but I just know from my experiences in the past that it's going to be positive," Mitchell said. "I'm hopeful for the future and really excited to get to Austin."